April 26, 2015
By Rebekah Scoville
“We don’t want to be thought of as someone who just drinks blonde beer,” stated Becca Scott, “we want to walk up to the counter and be offered to try the porter, the stout, and the double IPA.” As women we are becoming more active in the beer scene; we are growing our palates and knowledge of barrel-aged beers, sours, and everything craft. And even though we are still overlooked at times within the larger marketing conglomerates, we are starting to leave our imprint in this craft beer craze, both on the consumer and industry side. Jeanna Graham talked about the demographic shift of women, beer, and brew fests, and how just a few years ago, you’d find lines for the mens bathrooms, but not for the women’s. However at the recent Art Of Beer Invitational in January, women dominated the scene, showing up in record numbers, and it is no longer abnormal, but instead a common theme within the craft beer movement. And as women continue forward, breaking stereotypes and shattering preconceived perceptions, I wanted to highlight Sacramento’s brightest and most talented women, in a new multi part series called “The Women Behind The Beer.”
These women all have something in common. We don’t just want our husbands to go to work, we want to go to work with them and work alongside them.
I had the recent pleasure of sitting down with Jeanna Graham and Becca Scott of Track 7 Brewing Company as they were able to carve out some time from their busy schedules to share their story with me. These two women’s lives are jam-packed full as they balance their roles as mom, wife, friend and brewery owner alongside their husbands, Ryan Graham and Geoff Scott. I, too, am a mom, wife, and friend, trying to balance owning a small business, and I know the challenges that come with that all too well. My husband Scott Scoville started Beers In Sac with his business partner Ted Rozalski in January of 2014. As business picked up, I wanted to contribute and they needed my help with the quickly increasing workload. I brought specific skills to the table that helped propel the business forward in a different and unique way. And as we got more involved with different breweries, I started learning that other owners wives or significant others were highly involved in the process as well. I wanted to find out more about these women who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and get to work in a field that has been almost exclusively dominated by men in the recent past. These women all have something in common. We don’t just want our husbands to go to work, we want to go to work with them and work alongside them. We aren’t content sitting on the sidelines; We want to taste the beer, smell the beer, learn to brew the beer, and of course, drink the beer. We want to be involved, working alongside our husbands, knowing the intricacies of our trade and be partners in business and life.
Most people are familiar with the male owners behind their favorite local breweries. Ryan Graham and Geoff Scott are the owners and face of Track 7, but they are the first to say that they would not be where they are today without the hard work and full support of their wives working alongside them. Ryan talked about Becca and Jeanna's value to the success of the brewery, stating that they “are every bit as integral to the successful operation of Track 7 as the brewing work that Geoff and (Ryan) do. They are amazing business owners that only happen to be women.” Ryan was also quick to point out that their wives do not work behind them, but alongside them. The women alongside Track 7 do more than compliment the business, they push the brewery forward, operationally and conceptually.
Jeanna and Becca are fully invested in the intricate details of brewery life and are at the brewery almost daily. They are immersed in all areas of the business from processing payroll, scheduling food trucks, handling donation requests, managing the taproom, updating social media, working with their graphic designer on bottles and merchandise decisions, managing employees and doing all this and more before school pick up time for Jeanna or relieving the nanny for Becca. But don’t think that once they leave the brewery they are done for the day. Both are answering emails and phone calls throughout the week and weekend, and even during 2am feeding times when Becca is up with her twins. In the hours leading up to this interview, I personally was in the trenches of mommy-land, wiping sticky hands and faces, and on my hands and knees cleaning scrambled eggs off the floor before heading off for this interview. It’s stressful at times balancing two drastically different worlds, however I have seen Becca, Jeanna and many other women with one foot firmly planted in the brewery life, and the other in the home and family life. And with these two women in particular, neither place would fully function without them. It’s not easy to balance at times, but we want both and are willing to make sacrifices to make them both thrive.
The lives of these Track 7 couples are drastically different than they were a few short years ago when Track 7 Brewing Company was just a pipe dream, conceived by two home brewing friends as they shared with their wives their vision of opening a taproom. Ryan and Geoff met in college at UC Davis. Ryan was studying Political Science and Geoff was studying Managerial Economics. They both shared a great friendship and an immeasurable passion for home brewing. Becca thinks back to 2009 when the guys first mentioned wanting to open a brewery and laughed as she remembers being a fan of the idea because it would mean they would store their ever-growing amount of brewing equipment and kegs of beer at this imaginary brewery instead of in multiple rooms throughout their house. Jeanna liked the idea too, but pictured “a sleepy little taproom,” happening 5 or 10 years down the road when her kids were a bit older. Ryan and Geoff started moving forward quickly after they got the go-ahead from Jeanna and Becca and soon they were buying out retirement plans to scrape together the money to buy the necessary equipment and building space for their taproom. And Track 7 Brewing Company was born!
When Track 7 opened the doors to their taproom in 2011 they were the first of their kind in the Sacramento area, an industrial warehouse inspired brewery, suburban centered, with a new outlook on the brewery scene. The ladies remember Ryan thinking big and hoping that they would get 100 people to come to their Grand Opening. About 1,000 people showed up to enjoy their beer and experience their taproom. Geoff, Becca, Ryan and Jeanna and some of their family members were behind the bar all night pouring beer. By the end of the night every person in the taproom was drinking Soulman Stout because they had run out of every other kind of beer. They were shocked at the success of that first night and have been running with the warm and enthusiastic reception that Sacramento continues to give them and their great brews. All of 2012 the four of them ran the taproom, without any other paid employees, handling everything from beginning to end.
Ryan and Becca were the first ones to quit their day jobs and work at the brewery full-time. Jeanna and Ryan were actually living in southern California early on, and Ryan would fly up every other weekend to work towards opening up the brewery, with Becca and Geoff working on the opposite weekends. Jeanna had to hold down the home front with their two kids through that period. When they moved up to Sacramento in 2010 Jeanna was able to get more involved and started working more hours in the office answering emails, handling donations, and as they were able to start hiring more employees, Human Resource Manager was added to her growing list of titles.
Becca was full-time before Jeanna, and has never been afraid to get into the mix of things and get her hands dirty. Becca’s roles have evolved just like Jeanna’s and now she is involved more with graphic design of their merchandise, as well as handling all the food truck scheduling, and the brewery’s social media. They also both share the responsibility of overseeing the taprooms. But these women have learned that as owners, you can’t just fulfill your job descriptions and call it a day, but instead be willing to do whatever needs to be done to make your brewery a success, and this more often than not requires them to step outside their comfort zones.
As I was sitting listening to them talk about their different roles, I could tell that all four have roles or jobs that they enjoy and are naturally good at, and most importantly, they encourage each other in those roles. They are all hard workers, intently focused on their trade but they all know that each one of the four are immeasurably important to the thriving machine of this ever expanding brewery. After getting a small inside look at how things get done in this brewery, I saw that these power house couples are so immersed in the seemingly never-ending work of the brewery, they rarely have time to put their head above the Sacramento brewery scene and get a bird’s eye view of what Track 7 looks like to others in the area. To themselves they are still the little brewery that started back in 2011.
This is why moments like winning Best of Show for their Panic IPA at the California State Fair in 2014 was such a big moment for them. Jeanna said that she almost cried when she heard the news. Both women admitted that since business has been growing since that 2011 Grand Opening, they feel like they are “in the trenches” trying to manage the never-ending workload. But Jeanna noted that feeling overwhelmed at the ever-increasing speed of their business is a positive, because it means they are moving forward and going places.
And I agree. Track 7 you are going places, helping make Sacramento a great craft beer city. And Jeanna and Becca, I know you don’t see yourselves as trend setters, but you are paving the way and helping to bring more women into this great craft beer industry. Cheers to you!