Emily Comeau, a second year student in the Brewing and Brewery Operations program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, has been awarded the first annual Nancy More Award.
“It’s really exciting and an honour to receive this award in Nancy More’s name; she’s a trailblazer, a brewing icon, and an amazing person,” said Comeau. “I was drawn to this program because it combines science and creativity. As a plus, the program is a lot of fun. When I started, I didn’t know anything about brewing or how I’d be accepted by the guys in the program or if I’d be treated fairly as a woman. But everyone is welcome here and there’s a lot of support for each other as brewers, no matter what your gender is.”
“I’m excited to go forward in the industry,” added Comeau. “I’m currently working at Mariner Brewing. They have been welcoming with open arms and I’ve learned so much from them. I’m excited to see more representation in the industry in general, and I look forward to being an ambassador and encouraging more women to get into brewing.”
Nancy More is considered a legend in the brewing industry. She became the first female head brewmaster in North America in 1985, and in 2019 she was presented with an Industry Legend Award at the 2019 BC Beer Awards (BCBA), recognizing her role as a trailblazer. Now, she also has an award named after her to help female or underrepresented students in brewing at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
“When people ask me what my biggest career achievement has been, I expect they’re usually waiting for an answer like building this brewery or leading that project or creating this technology or that, but really what I’m most proud of is the young people whose lives I’ve been privileged to impact and help them take their next steps in their brewing career,” said More.
“The brewing industry still isn’t the welcoming place to everyone as we’d like it to be,” continued More, “I still hear young people talk about the same things that I experienced as a young woman right out of university going to work in this industry and different breweries. So, scholarships like these are going to help us change that world.”
More added that Comeau has demonstrated a passion for beer and that’s what they want to see in the industry.
“We really appreciate the tremendous support from the industry, especially during this time. This award is significant because it really champions and promotes gender equity and underrepresented members of the brewing community,” said Dr. Elizabeth Worobec, dean, Faculty of Science and Horticulture at KPU. “We’re also honoured to have Nancy as part of our brewing team and however we can honour her we will, and to be able to pass this on to our students through a scholarship makes it even more meaningful.”
The Nancy More Award is presented by the BC Hospitality Foundation and the BC Craft Brewers Guild. According to Dana Harris, executive director of the BC Hospitality Foundation (BCHF), the charity has given out more than $1.25 million to over 425 hospitality workers in a financial crisis due to a medical condition to themselves or a family member, along with scholarship recipients. The BCHF is the only charity of its kind in Canada and this is their first brewery scholarship award.
Ken Beattie, executive director of the BC Craft Brewers Guild and part of the advisory panel of the BC Hospitality Foundation, has the pleasure of co-teaching a class with Nancy More at KPU each autumn. He said the idea to name it after her came to him when he learned that More was being recognized with the BCBA Legend Award: “It aligns with Nancy’s principles and it’s our honour to launch it this year with our first recipient.”