Growing up in a restaurant family in which a trained palate is key, Ting Su never thought much about beer. That is until she tried craft beer for the first time as an undergrad in Atlanta. In 2009, she started Eagle Rock Brewery, which she co-owns with her husband, Jeremy Raub, and father-in-law, Steve Raub, and together they've helped to grow and shape the Los Angeles craft beer scene. She's also formed the Women's Beer Forum, a monthly meeting to educate women about craft beer.
What do you think about the issue of women and beer? Historically, women used to do the brewing, before it became a male-dominated industry. That said, there are a lot of women involved in the brewing industry here in L.A., which is awesome.
There are still kind of a lot of preconceived notions, such as "chick beers" and what women like to drink. I saw it consistently when I was out at events. Sales reps would be like, "Oh, you should try this," and it would be a fruit or wheat beer. And that's not my favorite style of beer to drink.
Your favorite style? I prefer hoppy beers, not over-the-top hoppy. The assumption is that women in general don't like hoppy beer. I know probably more men who are really into wheat beers than women. I know just as many women who are just crazy about hops.
Tell us about the Women's Beer Forum. The whole premise was based on my noticing these trends, particularly in the taproom. I wanted to create something where it would give people the opportunity to get that education and feel comfortable enough to go out to try some beers. It's beer, for crying out loud. It's supposed to be fun.
How has L.A.'s craft beer movement evolved, and where do you see it going? The craft beer industry is the fastest-growing sector nationwide. We only started in late 2009. And now within L.A. County proper, I think there are 27 or so breweries. I see the explosion in breweries like a rising tide — all the boats rise together. There's a lot of camaraderie in the industry; it's a super-tight-knit crew.
It's grown so positively. The ingenuity that people have, the different styles that they're making, it's really exciting. At the same time, you get people who come into the industry who see it as a moneymaker. People who don't really love the craft. The thing we fear the most is an entrepreneur who opens up a brewery and they're pumping out a bunch of anything. They're not worried because they have a bunch of money to throw at it. As a brewery who's not being conscious about that, you can do so much harm to the industry.
Advice for a craft beer novice? Participate in some of the beer events that are around town. Visit a brewery. You might find that it's really fun. We do a tour at the taproom at the brewery every weekend, so people can learn about the brewing process. Also, the tasting rooms that are attached to the breweries give you an opportunity to try the beers. It's noncommittal. It's a great introduction. There's a world of flavors out there.
Eagle Rock Brewery, 3056 Roswell St., Los Angeles, (323) 257-7866, eaglerockbrewery.com