Yasmin Karimian of @SuspendedBrewing on Perseverance, Pigtown
Steve Fogleman, Baltimore Beer Baron
As she poured beer samples in her shiny new brewery during a tour last weekend, Suspended Brewing’s President, Yasmin Karimian, was excited, like a little kid who finally got to unwrap the toy that had been sitting under the Christmas tree for a month. I asked her what it was like to be a woman in an industry mostly known for bearded guys with trucker hats. Then she got serious.
“It’s been interesting. I will not lie to you,” she said. “We have had some, situations, that have been pretty rough. Some of the comments have been less than tasteful.” I asked her what she meant. “We did a D.C. home-brew demonstration at Brew at the Zoo. I was wearing a dress with boots, which you usually brew in. I got a lot of strange comments. There are still some old school people in the world, and it was quite a day because I didn’t know how to respond.”
I have generally found the craft beer community to be an inclusive crowd, more interested in the ingredients of the beer than the gender of a brewer. It was clear from her experiences that many of us still have a long way to go to making sure everyone feels welcome in the craft scene.
I asked if she’d heard of the craft group Baltimore Beer Babes, and she said she was looking forward to getting to know them.
“The women in this industry are awesome and super-supportive,” she said. “We’re working on getting a Pink Boots Society of Baltimore up and running. It’s a society of women who work in the industry. It’s a great network,” she told me. “Overall, I think having women in the industry and having counterparts who you can talk with and work through issues, we’re all very supportive of each other.”
As for her time in Baltimore, she’s gotten no creepy vibes. The embrace from the denizens of Pigtown reassured her that she was in the right place to start a business, even with all the blinding red tape and building delays.
“We couldn’t have picked a better neighborhood,” Karimian said of Pigtown. “I have to be honest. Our neighbors–I can’t tell you the number of times I wanted to quit, there were so many times I didn’t think I had the motivation to keep going, and our neighbors have literally lifted us up,” she said. She singled out a few in particular, like Beth Hawks, Rodney Carroll, and Doug Koschalk from Elemental Metalworks. “One night I told Doug, ‘I don’t think I can keep doing this,’ and he turned to me and told me, “We have all been there.” [Edit: Karimian called to say that she couldn’t believe she forgot to mention Gary Lam of Pigtown woodworking shop Coastal Longleaf. Lam designed the exterior of the building and did extensive craft woodwork on the interior. Co-founder Josey Schwartz mentioned Lam and his contributions to the space to me during the brewery tour.]
We’re a little late to the game, but welcome to Charm City. We’re glad you’re here, Yasmin.