Courtney Plowman Slays Beer

July 9, 2024, by Will Ziebell

Courtney Plowman Slays Beer

There’s plenty that unites the making of beer and wine.

Both are about fermenting something to create an alcoholic end product. Ideally, both taste delicious. And both can be turned into a perfect pairing for food.

There are differences too. And one point that struck Shapeshifter Brewing’s Courtney Plowman about the two was something close to craft beer's heart.

“I think the jumping off point was definitely the sense of community between small breweries,” she tells The Crafty Pint. “Especially in South Australia; everyone really helps each other out and gets around each other. I don’t think you get that as much in winemaking so it’s really nice to have that.”

Before switching grape-stomping for mash-cooking, Courtney studied viticulture, having developed a love for wine at home.

“My dad and family were super into wine and I slowly started drinking more of their booze rather than my own,” she says.

“I’ve done quite a few vintages and have been around the booze industry for a while and really started enjoying craft beer. So it felt right to check out the production side because I always enjoyed those winemaking vintages.”

 

Courtney with fellow Shapeshifter brewer Carla Naismith.

 

The place where her enjoyment of craft beer blossomed was Sweet Amber, the Sephamore bar where she even met her future colleague, Carla Naismith.

“I was always hanging around, even when the doors would close, and was just talking shop with everyone there,” Courtney says.

Following her time in the wine industry, Courtney started working at Adelaide’s beloved Wheatsheaf Hotel – better known as The Wheaty – before detouring for a period to work in an auction house.

“That sounds a little weird, I fell into that job,” is how she puts it.

Eager to return to production, she took a job with Shapeshifter late in 2023 and has spent the period since either working behind the bar or helping create the brewery’s much-loved hazies, modern lagers and other delightful drinks. 

“I made it pretty clear that I wanted to end up in the brewery," she says, "but I was happy to work front of house and then make my way in.”

To find out more about her passion for beer, here's Courtney. She Slays Beer. 


 Courtney Plowman

 

What’s your role in beer?

I’m a trainee brewer and cellar worker.


What first got you into craft beer?

I have a little bit of background in wine, but it was actually a local bar at the end of my street.

The place was solely dedicated to indie beers and ciders. However, it was the people that sucked me into the scene. I found myself often hanging around after closing time, joining in for knock-offs and talking about all things beer, booze and anything else really.


What do you most enjoy about the beer world?

Besides from a frothy boy, it would have to be the craft beer community, not just locally but nationally. Being able to collaborate and work with friends and be surrounded by like-minded people.


Much has been said about craft beer’s core audience getting older – are your mates drinking craft beer? If not, what are they drinking?

I have some friends who are really into craft beer but, for most, it isn’t really in their wheelhouse.

I generally see cans of Coopers in their hands, sometimes a Pirate Life South Coast will sneak in, and others go straight to the seltzers.

 


What do they think of your career in beer?

Most people think it's pretty cool, especially being a female in the industry and training to become a brewer.  


What’s your favourite way to engage with breweries and discover what’s happening in beer?

Social media like Instagram is definitely the most accessible but my favourite has to be beer industry events and just being able to chat with everyone over a couple of cold ones.


What about local breweries you love?

The Wheaty Brewing Corps is always right up there; I love what they’re doing with their foeder and larger format barrel stuff.

I love Loophole too, they’re doing great stuff with grape skins and working with thiols because they’re attached to a winery. They have great barrel-aged sours as well that are very, very cool – I love the crossing over of those two worlds.


What do you think the craft beer industry could do better or differently?

Big beer events and festivals with bands or artists are definitely a way to get younger people into the craft beer scene.

There's also that interest from young people towards non-beer products like seltzers or low-alcohol and low-calorie beverages.


You can read other entries in the Slays Beer series here.

Know a Gen Z-er in the beer industry you'd like to nominate for the series? Drop us a line!

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