Brazo Fuerte Artisanal Ale has been having its beer brewed by another brewery since they began distributing last year.
Owner Bev Armstrong of Watertown said she hopes to open a brewery in taproom, preferably in Watertown. On Saturday, Samuel Adams selected Armstrong and Brazo Fuerte as the winner of the “2017 Brewing and Business Experienceship.”
“I one hundred percent want to open up my own brewery and taproom as soon as I can,” said Armstrong. “The help I’ll get from this program will help me lay out the groundwork and help me get there sooner.”
The “experienceship” is an offshoot of the “Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream” program which helps secure food and beverage business microbusiness loans, as well as provide coaching and mentoring to business owners.
The “experienceship” is a more intense version of the program. Armstrong, the first Massachusetts winner in six years of the program, will be brought in for an intensive week to meet with different people throughout the Samuel Adams company, learning different aspects of running a business. She will also work with the Samuel Adams brewers to create a collaboration beer that will be distributed at a later time.
“They teach you what small brewers need to do to move to the next level,” said Armstrong. “It’s a very critical program. There’s on-site training and mentoring throughout the year.”
Armstrong, who is a former lawyer and spent 15 years as an executive in the biotech industry, began homebrewing a decade ago. A rugby player, Armstrong said she wanted a light refreshing beer to enjoy with her teammates after games.
That led to her brewing all low-alcohol beers that she and her teammates could drink without worrying about getting drunk. Today, all of Brazo Fuerte’s (Spanish for arm strong) beers are 4.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) or lower.
“My focus has always been about sessionable beers, even before I knew what session beers were,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong’s beers include the Pony Rye’d, a 4.3 percent rye beer, K-Wags Chocolate Coconut Brown, a 4.3 percent porter brewed with chocolate malt and organic coconut and the Green Tea Pale ale, a pale ale brewed with organic green tea.
Currently, Armstrong’s beers are brewed at the Great North Aleworks in Manchester, New Hampshire, but she is working to have the beer brewed at another facility in Massachusetts.
Armstrong is one of the few female brewers in the state, and also one of the few African-American brewers. She said, through her research, she believes she is the first black female brewer in all of New England, and possibly only the second in the United States.
“My goal is to cater to a broader cross section of people – frankly people who haven’t been part of the craft beer revolution,” said Armstrong. “I’m trying to attract them and to excite them and bring them into the fold. My focus is on making great beer, but the reality is, I’ve been to events where people were literally thanking me for paying attention to the non-traditional beer market. They say craft breweries don’t think they like craft beer, and that’s not the case.”