Generally, like everything else in the culinary industry--or pretty much any career field outside teaching or nursing--craft beer tends to be a man's game. Obviously, given the industry's massive growth, they are obviously doing a good job, but it's rather refreshing to see some estrogen on the scene. Cue: Lauren Bowen.
The spunky, blonde, 22-year-old is the Creative Director and Craft Beer Director of one of Fort Lauderdale's busiest bars, Tap 42. Starting with the place within a month of opening--at the end of 2011--Bowen has played an integral role in creating one of the most intensive craft beer programs in Broward County. As the mastermind behind the bar's frequent tap-takeovers and other craft beer events, Bowen has taken craft beer from a something enjoyed by just a small segment of beer geeks and culinary aficionados to a new pastime for a large portion of the general Fort Lauderdale population.
The most influential person in my career has been...
The most influential person in my career has been my mentor, boss, and my "beer nerd in training", Andy Yeager, the Managing Partner of Tap42. He has been the one person who has always believed in all my crazy and outrageous ideas, and who always encourages me to make them happen. He never has given up on me. I've never met someone who is so dedicated and passionate about their craft. That dedication has inspired me to ALWAYS be at my best in everything I do.
When I'm alone and in need of comfort (and no one is there to watch or judge), the one food or drink I turn to is...
Penn Berry Weiss, an entire large pizza with balsamic vinaigrette, and soft baked chocolate chip cookies. Note: Not Chips Ahoy Chewy cookies, very different!
What does the Broward/Palm Beach food scene need more of?
I'd love to see our local craft beer following grow in Broward. South Florida is quickly becoming a major player in the beer world and it would be great to have more local people who are passionate and eager to learn about and appreciate American craft beer: learning about different beer styles, cellaring, and brewing. I'd love to see people understand how craft can benefit out local economy, and how it can bring people together.
You get to vote one food or beverage trend off the island forever -- what is it?
The easiest question I have ever answered: the trend I'd vote off the island forever would be macro buying micro. I'd like to protect the craft industry from the vultures of big business conglomerates buying out the smaller microbreweries who are just taking flight. Inevitably when the big guys buy out the small craft breweries those breweries end up losing their identity, their "cool" factor, and most importantly, their quality usually always deteriorates.
You have unlimited funds to open a restaurant or bar -- what's the name, and what do you serve?
If I had unlimited funds I wouldn't necessarily open a restaurant or a bar. Instead I would open up a "non-profit" bar-esque environment for all of my beer friends and me to host bottle shares, sample and discuss some rare brews and to simply be a haven for all things beer. Basically a beer nerd clubhouse.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years I hope see myself:
1. Playing a key role in the planning and opening of the few Tap 42 locations and maintaining the craft beer lineup
2. Visiting more of my favorite breweries across the United States
3. Annually attending the Great American Beer Festival in Colorado
4. Meeting some of my favorite brewers
5. Brewing a batch of beer with Harpoon Brewery in Boston
Dream dinner party for six: Who (living or dead) are you inviting?
1. Tyler King, senior director of brewing operations at the Bruery in California. King concocts insanely innovative brewing recipes that completely blow my mind. To be in the same room with him and to be able to understand his creative process would be a tremendous honor. And the fact that he has been awarded as "The Craft Beer Industry's Most Eligible Bachelor in 2012" doesn't hurt either.
2. Fritz Maytag, Anchor Brewing. Anchor is one of the oldest craft breweries in the U.S. In 1965 Maytag leaned that his favorite brewery, Anchor Brewing, was shutting their doors forever due to bankruptcy. He rescued Anchor by purchasing 51 percent of the brewery, just because he didn't want to stop drinking Anchor Steam. From then on, Maytag helped other young entrepreneurs who loved craft beer start and build many of your favorite California breweries.
3. Henry David Thoreau, one of my all-time favorite authors.
4. Larry Bell, founder of Bell's Brewing. One of the leaders in the craft beer industry. Bell's Brewing is one of the only breweries who aren't just known for "one" beer. Their entire lineup is award worthy. Regardless of what beer style they are brewing, it is bound to be great.
5. Wayne Wambles, head brewer of Cigar City. The brewer of my favorite beer of all time Cigar City Café Con Leche, and the mastermind of all the treatment drafts that come out a Cigar City. A genius!
6. The Terrapin Turtle dressed as a cow from the Terrapin Moohoo Chocolate Milk Stout label, one of my favorite beer labels. Just for some comic relief.
New Times' Best Of Broward-Palm Beach 2013 issue arrives June 13. To celebrate, Clean Plate Charlie is serving up 30 of our favorite tastemakers -- restaurateurs, chefs, bartenders, and other foodies who make the South Florida food scene what it is. We'll start with number 30 and lead up to South Florida's number one. All previous 2013 Tastemakers are listed below.
Follow @ CleanPlateBPB