Q&A: Take a sip of The Beer Wench

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Image @TheBeerWench

Berkeley based Ashley V Routson is the super heroine of craft beer. Her writings consists of musings on the hows, whos, and whats of beer. After years of writing about beverages in general, she began to garner an online presence in the craft beer world. Now, she’s at the top, where she gets to write with as much spunk and personality as her hoppy heart desires. She and I got to chat over email yesterday, but hopefully we can grab a pint next time I’m in the Bay Area! Check her out!

1. How did you get into writing about beer?

Long story short: I love to write. I started a super general blog in 2007, but felt like I really needed to focus on one subject. Inspired by a few local food bloggers, I decided that I wanted to write a wine blog. But then I got intimidated by the wine world, fearing criticism and rejection. And so, I decided to write about my second favorite subject at the time–beer.

2. What is it like having so many people that read what you write? 

I actually don’t know how many people read what I write. You can get a good idea from analytics, retweets, facebook likes and comments, but there is no true way of knowing how many people actually read and reflect on your writing. It’s flattering to know that some people view me as a respected resource on the subject of beer, but I definitely keep my ego in check.

3. What’s your favorite beer? 

Ah yes, the hardest question in the world to answer. Often times, I just tell people it’s the one in my glass. But, if I had to narrow it down to just one beer, I’d probably say Orval. We are both one-of-a-kind and we are both ever-evolving. There is also a very romantic and mystical story surrounding the origins of Orval that makes the drinking experience even more extraordinary.

4. I like that your goal is to “revolutionize the beer industry through education, innovation & advocacy.” I’m wondering how you go about doing that?

I seek to be the change I wish to see in the world. My leadership style has always been to lead through doing. Becoming a leader, however, doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, hard work, lots of education and a tremendous amount of passion. I lead through my actions. I educate people as often and as much as I can about craft beer. I find new and innovative ways to share my passion for craft beer with others. And most importantly, I’m always advocating for craft beer. I’m kind of like a craft beer cheerleader, when all is said an done.

5. How did you go from being Ashley Routson to the Beer Wench?

When I started Drink With The Wench, I was very happily employed by a small, privately-owned creative marketing & advertising agency. My boss was absolutely brilliant and taught me the importance of self-branding. He is also the man that inspired me to start blogging. I was also inspired by Michael Jackson, quite possibly the most prolific beer writer in the history of beer writing, who had branded himself as The Beer Hunter. When I sat down to create my blog, the first thing I focused on was creating a brand. I was a spirited 24 year-old back then, so the thought of being a “beer wench” excited me. Ultimately, I became the Beer Wench. And now, Ashley Routson and the Beer Wench are one and the same.

6. What’s your favorite piece you’ve ever written as the Beer Wench? 

This is like asking a parent to choose a favorite child! There are a lot of pieces that I have written that have stirred the pot and have gotten me a lot of exposure. My two most popular articles on my personal website have been Beer Wars: The Female Edition and Craft Beer & The Restaurant Hypocrasy: An Airing of Grievances. Outside of my blog, I’m very proud of the work I’ve done for CraftBeer.com. I really really loved writing Beer-Wine Hybrids: Two Worlds Collide. It was a super fun article that combined both my passion for beer and my love of wine.

7. How did you begin to garner an online presence for yourself?

I attribute the success of my online presence to four things: 1. early adoption 2. hard work 3. insurmountable passion and 4. extraordinary mentors. As a tech-savvy Millennial, I pride myself in being an early adopter of all-things social media. I was on Facebook before it went public (college FTW!) and I started Twitter before most breweries even knew it existed. Being first definitely has its advantages, but you still have to work hard to stay at the top. I logged in the man hours and, through lots of trial and error, failures and successes, I was able to forge a path that has led me to where I am today. But, it is important to note that I could not have done it alone. Throughout my journey, I have sought out and aligned myself with some of the most influential, intelligent and talented people in the beer industry–all of which who have given me the knowledge, tools and support to be the person that I am today.

8. What advice do you have for an aspiring writer and beer enthusiast like myself?

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” – Albert Einstein. That quote is pretty much my mantra. The greatest advice I can give aspiring beer writers and enthusiasts is to educate yourself as much as physically possible, stay positive (be a cheerleader for craft beer, not a troll), and have fun doing it (fun spreads like wildfire). And when it comes to being good at social media, remember one thing: be social!

About Ella Gummer

Ella Gummer is a fourth year Journalism and Spanish student at the University of Oregon. Her professional interests include gender studies, travel writing, media literacy education, and multimedia production. Hailing from Northern California where her large, hilarious family still lives, Ella now works, studies, explores, and gardens in Eugene with good friends and her fat cat. You can listen to her campus radio show, where she is known as DJ Boots, every Monday at 11am on KWVA 88.1 Eugene. Follow her on Twitter @ellaGummz.
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