Brandeis Spoon with the inside scoop. Bet you didn’t know one of our own, Julie Verratti ’04, has been makin’ brews for a living at Denizens Brewing Co, a brewing company in Silver Spring, MD. Well, she has been. And she’s epic.
1. Why did you make the switch from law to brewing?
I don’t really see it as a full switch. I still use my legal skills throughout the business in various ways. I will say that my happiness at work has shot up since I can wear jeans and hoodies to work everyday now instead of a suit.
2. Why beer?
Why not beer? Beer is delicious and it brings people together. Denizens Brewing Co. serves as a third space for the surrounding neighborhood. We are a proud member of Silver Spring and are able to positively impact the community in various ways.
3. Did your time at Brandeis have any influence on your career path?
The things I loved about my experience at Brandeis was the diversity and focus on learning. Silver Spring is a very diverse community and all walks of life come together here. Brandeis emphasizes making a positive impact on those around you and I love that Denizens is able to do that. We host many events and classes that showcase local businesses and non-profits who are doing wonderful work to uplift those around them. Prior to opening the brewery my work at the US Small Business Administration was focused on helping would-be entrepreneurs get started, and that experience is something I will always be grateful for.
4. What’s it like being a woman in the brewing industry?
I imagine it’s about the same as being in any industry that is male-dominated. I haven’t had any specific negative interactions because of my gender, but I can tell you that in most situations I am either the only woman in the room or one of very few.
5. If you had to pick one of Denizens beers to recommend to Brandeis students, what would it be and why?
This is a hard question for me to answer because we make such a wide range of beer styles, and everyone has a different palate. My business partner Jeff Ramirez has been brewing professionally for about 9 years now and he makes everything from Ales to Lagers to Belgians to Sours to Barrel-Aged beers. If you like hoppy beers I would recommend our Southside Rye IPA and Born Bohemian Czech-style Pilsner. If you like lighter beers or are more of a wine drinker I would recommend our Third Party Belgian-style Tripel. For those of you who are into adventurous styles I would recommend our Sour Saison called Backyard Boogie or our bourbon barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout called the Shirtless Horseman. I personally choose the Southside Rye IPA most days.
6. Favorite/least favorite part about your job?
My favorite part is being able to work with people all day, and I basically drink for a living. My least favorite part is all the paperwork involved in this type of industry. When you make and sell alcohol for a living you are highly regulated by all levels of government (understandably so), but that tends towards an insane amount of forms you have to fill out on a monthly (and sometimes weekly) basis.
7. What beer did you drink in college?
Interestingly enough I didn’t drink any booze in college.
8. Anything else we should know?
When we were first opening our doors in 2014 we worked to get a couple laws changed to allow for our business model, which is a full-scale production brewery with a tap room. The law changes that we lobbied and drafted the legislative language for have knocked down barriers to entry in Montgomery County and three more breweries have opened as a direct result. I’m pretty proud of that.