Originally from Grand Island, Neb., Aly Hartwig moved to the Centennial State four years ago looking to change her career path — and what she discovered was beer. Now a 23-year-old assistant brewer at Pikes Peak Brewing Company in Monument, Hartwig also cultivates craft-based partnerships among local young professionals. Amid planning for the brewery-sponsored Colorado Springs Craft Week (April 27-May 4), Hartwig talked about breaking into the Springs market as well as the potential she sees in it.
What brought you here?
I was studying architectural engineering at the University of Nebraska and I came out here to switch to environmental engineering. I was really excited about a new program at Colorado State … Fort Collins is when I started getting involved with home brewing and went to my first beer festival. Everyone was so nice and it was just a big community. … So after that, more and more, I submerged myself into the craft beer culture and realized how passionate I was about craft beer and the movement that was going on, because it’s more than making a really high-quality product. It’s locally made and someone put a lot of time into making it, but it’s also about the people who come together for this that are really creating a great community. … The things that I am seeing being accomplished through the craft beer community have really impressed me.
Tell me more about getting involved with the craft brew culture in the Springs.
I sat down in December of 2012 and wrote a list of everything that Colorado Springs was missing as a craft beer town, and part of that was Brewer’s Broads. So I started a women’s brew club at Brewer’s Republic and then the next step was a Craft Beer week … and I really wanted to highlight all of the breweries coming together in Colorado Springs. … In July 2013, I was brought on to Pikes Peak and have been brewing here ever since.
What is the atmosphere like in Colorado Springs for this industry?
It’s growing and I think our quality is getting better — as our competition is growing, it’s raising the bar for what we are making. … I think that we are making a name for Colorado Springs right now.
To what do you attribute that growth?
Young Professionals find themselves in this spot where they are making a little more money, they’re starting their career, and they’re putting a lot of work into something. So I think that makes them appreciate spending a little bit more and getting a really awesome pint of beer. … I think that young professionals appreciate a small business and one that is doing it well. I definitely think that it is creating a more appealing town for people that want to live here. … I’m also seeing the support from young professionals in this community. It doesn’t matter what your background is, what your religion is, what your ethnicity or anything; you can come together and enjoy a beer. … I think that the two big things that bring people together in this town are recreation and beer. Those are the two things that people can agree on, no matter where you go.
Is this a good spot for young professionals?
I think that we have real quality businesses and that they offer great opportunities and are growing so fast. … Right now we are in a strong boom, so for the smaller businesses it’s great!
We are, through this craft culture — not just beer, but coffee, spirits and this global foods movement — creating a more appealing place to live. So by creating a more appealing place to live, I think it attracts a more attractive place to open here and I think it does create more opportunity for everyone. I think that within that community there are also a lot of networking opportunities, because you are finding a lot of friends who will support you.