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Monday, December 15, 2014

Lindsay Nations: Baroness of Beer

The Louisiana craft beer scene has taken off in the past few years and we definitely haven't seen the last of it. There are already talks of a handful of new breweries planning to open within the next couple of years. One of the newer kids on the block, the Great Raft Brewing Company out of  Shreveport, Louisiana,  has made quite a splash since they came on the scene a little over one year ago.

Lindsay Nations Co-founder and Vice President of Great Raft Brewing Company in Shreveport, Louisiana
Lindsay Nations, Co-founder and Vice President of Great Raft Brewing Company in Shreveport, Louisiana

Lindsay Nations, the Co-founder and Vice President of Great Raft Brewing Co., says her love for craft beer took off once she moved to Washington, D.C.. After growing up in Shreveport, she earned a degree in journalism from Baylor University then moved to the nation's capital where she worked for in enterprise communications. "There are different distribution laws in DC so you have access to craft beers from all over the world. It was a unique opportunity to learn what beer can be. It doesn't always have to be an amber or a lager, it can be a lot of different things. I think being exposed to that variety got me interested," Lindsay explained over a pint of their Commotion Pale Ale. Homebrewing with her husband Andrew Nations (Co-founder and President of Great Raft Brewing Co.) also really sparked the couple's involvement in the D.C. beer culture. "Everything we did outside of work revolved around beer: spending time at breweries, friends were opening breweries, doing beer tastings and education events, just being really involved to the point of having an influence in that community," said Nations, "It just became our lifestyle."

After Nations received her MBA from George Mason University, she and Andrew began talking about owning and operating their own brewery. Once the pair decided their brewery would be back home in Shreveport there was no turning back. Lindsay is in charge of the brewery's taproom operations and marketing in addition to administrative duties, accounting, and legal work. In conjunction with running the brewery with Andrew, Lindsay "has a day job" where she does strategy, planning, and communications work for Cisco. As if her busy schedule didn't present enough of a challenge, Lindsay expressed that it can be hard to be taken seriously as a female in the beer business. "A lot of times, people think that you are, as a woman, just in a supportive roll. 'Andy the owner of Great Raft... and his wife, Lindsay,' it's not necessarily 'Andrew and Lindsay are the co-founders and part owners of Great Raft Brewing,'" said Nations. While it's upsetting that assuming such a thing is just a creature of habit (pardon the pun, Creature of Habit is the name of their new coffee brown ale), it is something that Nations says she thinks may change over time. There are more and more females entering the industry all the time. Not only do their duties go beyond supportive roles, but these women are the ones who are in large part running the show.

"I can't grow a beard and be the typical face of the company in the brewing industry, but there are so many things that would fall apart if I left one day," Lindsay said laughing, "You don't get to be the face of the company when you don't fit the stereotype sometimes." Nations then began talking about Kim Jordan of New Belgium Brewing, stating how much harder she must have to work to get that recognition in the industry. "When I hear New Belgium, I think Kim Jordan. Maybe one day that will be the case with Louisiana breweries."

To that I say cheers to Lindsay Nations and cheers to women kicking ass in beer.

This post is part of a new monthly series spotlighting Louisiana women in the business of booze. Previous features include:
Natalie Parbhoo: Duchess of Distribution