Kentucky Brewer Named Winner of Brewing The American Dream
When Kate Russell of Hopkinsville Brewing Co. got the call she was named the winner of Samuel Adams Brewing The American Dream Brewer Experienceship program, she thought she was being pranked. It was no prank, and Ashton Kutcher was not hiding behind Hopkinsville’s brewing tanks ready to tell Russell she was on an episode of “Punk’d”. Russell was, in fact, the winner of Samuel Adams’ 8th Brewer Experienceship program.
It was during a really bad brew day last month that Russell received the call from Jennifer Glanville, brewer and director of partnerships at Boston Beer.
“So the phone rings, I answer it, and Jennifer started talking to me,” Russell said. “She’s like, ‘Hi, I’m Jennifer Glanville with Samuel Adams and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.’ And that was the part I kind of stopped listening because as soon as I heard Sam Adams, I’m like someone is playing a really sad prank. Like, that’s not even funny. And then the longer she went on, I realized that like I hadn’t told anyone.”
After the embarrassment of forgetting she applied wore off, the excitement grew. She ran into the other room to tell co-owner and co-brewer, Joey Medeiros, that not only did she apply for the program, but she had won.
“She came into the brewhouse and is like, you’re never gonna believe this,” Medeiros said. “You need to sit down. No, you really need to. She almost forced me to sit down, damn near on the floor. And then she told me that she was selected for the Sam Adams brew the American dream.”
(She then went on to complain that he didn’t even get excited, to which Medeiros responded that he never gets excited about anything.)
Sam Adams started Brewing the American Dream in 2008 as a philanthropic program that provides mentorship and capital to food and beverage entrepreneurs. In the 13 years of the program, Sam Adams has loaned over $15 million, coached and mentored 12,000 food and beverage entrepreneurs around the country and created and retained 9,000 jobs in 39 states.
When selecting this year’s winner, Russell’s story of resilience is what Sam Adams loved the most.
Russell, a single mom of two kids ages 12 and 15, opened Hopkinsville Brewing Company in 2016. After years of growth in a city of only 31,000 people, Hopkinsville opened its expanded taproom and brewery just weeks before the COVID-19 shutdown. During this time, Russell juggled both being a mom who had to become a teacher and a business owner who had to figure out how to keep her brewery afloat.
“What really got us is that she opened up her expansion three weeks before COVID hit last year, and like so many small businesses, whether or not you had an expansion or not, the opportunity to be creative was there,” Glanville said. “There were so many challenges that really were against all these small businesses and Kate really persevered. That was something that really stood out for us was that resilience and that true entrepreneurial spirit that really kept her going. It’s not easy being a mom, during the pandemic in general, and hearing that story really inspired us to pick her as our eighth winner.”
Russell’s story was so incredibly impactful to the people at Sam Adams, that it prompted them to launch the Moms Brewing the American Dream program to highlight the working moms who worked tirelessly during the pandemic.
“We want to recognize moms that are pursuing their passions and their entrepreneurial dreams,” Glanville said. “And we also felt like, there’s a lot of moms out there who are getting creative, and maybe there is a passion that they wanted to follow a small business idea or to be an entrepreneur on their own business. So let’s encourage them to do that.”
“And we really want to do to bring light to the moms who have struggled so much like many during the pandemic, but giving them a little bit of support with a fun prize package that has amazing prizes in it, and also the networking piece to meet other moms,” Glanville continued.
Fifty moms will be selected for this program and each winner will receive mentorship and training sessions, a $500 check to contribute to childcare or groceries, a voucher to mDesign, a 3-month subscription to City Girl Coffee, a Kami Mini camera and a gift card to Bathorium.
The Moms Brewing the American Dream program was an important way for Sam Adams to highlight and bring to light the difficulty of being a mother in the brewing industry. During the past year, moms were homeschooling kids and running a business. In Russell’s case, she was working as a mother, a business owner and a head brewer. Sam Adams wants to make sure these voices and stories are heard. Glanville, who has worked in the industry for 20 years, has a real appreciation for these women and the lengths they went through this past year, and especially Russell.
“It’s not easy and brewing, I can speak personally, it’s not like a quick thing you can just go do in the kitchen and leave right?” Glanville said. “So she has to be at the brewery but I know she’s extremely committed to being a mom. We were bonding over going to kids’ games and making sure you can fit them into your schedule. So my hat’s off to her because I do think she’s a great example of somehow fitting it all in. I don’t even know how she does it. She’s a great example of somehow fitting it all in. And she does it with such grace and such a positive attitude.”
When Sam Adams told Russell about their new program, she nearly cried. No matter what, being a mom comes first to Russell. Mom, first; Hopkinsville Brewing owner and head brewer, second. It’s the only way she sees it. The only way she will ever see it.
“I don’t often think about that part of it [being a mom],” Russell said. “So it was just really neat to me that that was their biggest takeaway from our story was just how I am a working mom.”
Russell wants to look back on her kids’ younger years and never have the regret of missing her son’s baseball game or her daughter’s band concert. Russell will go as far as closing her taproom down for the night if it means not missing her kid’s activities. In 10 years, Russell isn’t going to remember a random Tuesday night shift in the taproom, she’s going to remember watching her son make the winning hit or her daughter’s clarinet solo. The only way for Russell to be a mom first is through her biggest supporter, her partner Medeiros.
“And the only reason I’m able to do it is that I have an incredibly understanding and hardworking partner, he’s willing to pick up my slack when you know, kids come first, my kids will always come first,” Russell said.
“I’m so incredibly lucky to have a partner that understands that he came into it knowing that this is, this is just how my life goes,” Russell continued. “It comes down to priorities and, and Joey is awesome, and that he’s willing to pick up that slack when I’m not there. Or when I say hey, I’m out because I’ve got to go pick up a kid for something. I don’t think he’s ever complained.”
Medeiros grew up with a single mom and saw the sacrifices his mom had to make working full-time and taking care of him and his younger brother. Both Russell and Medeiros see the importance that this program can have on working moms, and especially, single working moms.
“Last year was really interesting,” Russell said. “So I’m excited to be partnered with a company that recognizes that and has the ability and the means to take it so much bigger than many other people could.”
Moms who are interested in applying for the Moms Brewing the American Dream can via the Brewing the American Dream Facebook and Instagram page, or through the submission form on Sam Adams’ website by May 23, 2021.
Feature Image Courtesy of Hopkinsville Brewing Company