Roc Girls to Know: Meet Carolyn Stiles of Rochester Beer Gals

Tell us your name, age and what you do.
Carolyn Stiles, 26, creator and organizer of the women’s beer-loving community, Rochester Beer Gals.

Give us a little of your history.
Rochester is where I grew up and I love this city, but I had to leave first to realize it. For college, I went to St. Lawrence University and it was there I started to build a solid appreciation for craft beer. I’m sure this surprises no one since there’s obviously a lot of drinking in college, but amongst all the Coors Light, I was drinking Dog Fish Head and Victory IPAs. I was spending the little money I had on the good stuff.  

Post college, I found myself in Denver, bartending and brewing. This is where I really honed my understanding for beer, the brewing process, and myriad styles out there. It’s also where I started to notice that fewer women customers had the confidence and understanding to order beer they would enjoy. I really loved finding the right beer for people, specifically women who thought they didn’t like it. A short stint at Roc Brewing Co. in 2014 further solidified my observation that guys seemed to outnumber the ladies coming into the brewery. While even in the last three years there’s been a big shift, I started Rochester Beer Gals to bridge that gap.

I’m just excited to be some small part of making this city a more interesting, fun place to be.
— Carolyn Stiles

Tell us more about what you do.
Rochester Beer Gals is a community of women who love craft beer or are interested in learning more about it. We’ve worked to build this community through local events, social media and our blog. The group is part educational, part social, and part experiential. We want local ladies to take what they’ve experienced at our events or seen on our social channels and then Tap into their own Adventure. We want them to get excited about bringing craft beer into their own lives in any way that makes sense for them. Maybe its knowing how to order from a menu or confidently choosing beers to pair with a meal at home. I think it’s also about knowing that there’s totally a time and place for that Blue Light, PBR, Miller Coors and just owning it. It’s all good. There’s no judgement in beer (or there shouldn’t be). Ultimately, we want our community to get excited about exploring our growing craft beer scene.

To support this goal of helping our following tap into their adventure, we partnered with Linh Phillips of Sir Rocha Says to create a brewery guide to the Rochester craft beer scene. Through a series of written reviews and video interviews, we’ve covered 11 craft breweries. Our guide encourages the local community (men and women) to get out there and experience each brewery’s offerings. This has been such a fun collaboration and we’re really excited about its completion, especially since we thought it would take about three months and it took more like 12. Is that not how all projects go? While it doesn’t cover all breweries, I think it’s a really awesome start. Check it out HERE.

What are your favorite things about Rochester?
You can start something and grow it and people will support it. People are seeing this and taking advantage of it. They know that this city is small enough that their initiative won’t get buried, it will get recognized. That’s so cool! Each new project helps to evolve our culture. The word evolve is key because Rochester has really solid bones that don’t need to be cast aside. There’s a lot of history in this city, but I think we’re taking the opportunity to tweak what’s here (the buildings, the rules, the expectations) just enough to breathe new life into it. There’s this momentum and energy and it’s palpable, contagious even. For me, I’m just excited to be some small part of making this city a more interesting, fun place to be.