Woman’s suds rise to top of male-dominated beer industry

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Adamstown, Pennsylvania, is known as the Antiques Capital of America. Its roads are lined with shops and boutiques are filled with relics.

Sitting among those stores is a Lancaster County gem that has stood the test of time.

“The restaurant my husband started in 1962. Can you imagine that? He was 21 years old,” said Carol Stoudt.

Stoudt and her husband Ed own Stoudts Black Angus Restaurant and Pub. It is a restaurant, brewery, market, and wedding venue, with a German touch.

“We did a lot of German Oktoberfest and a lot of wedding and events. The one thing that was missing was beer,” said Stoudt.

So, in the late 1980s, Carol decided to change that.

“Now remember, in 1987, microbreweries, craft, was not a word, so I was kind of paving new waters if you will,” said Stoudt.

That year Carol opened Stoudts Brewery, becoming the first female brewer in America since prohibition.

“At least I had the guts to start it and persevere. How about that?” said Stoudt.

Carol paved a way for female brewers across the nation, but her journey was not easy. She was balancing the brewery and motherhood.

“I remember when she did come home and it was frustrating, like she had just had a really hard day out on the road,” said Elizabeth Stoudt, one of Ed and Carol’s five children.

Elizabeth is part of the family business, running the restaurant and market.

“I would say that it’s what motivates me to wake up every day, to just support what they’ve spent their lifetime building,” Elizabeth Stoudt said. “I’ve met so many women in the brewing industry that honor her and were inspired by her. For me, when I watch that or hear their stories, I’m pretty proud of her.”

Stoudts Brewery is well-known in the beer industry. Carol’s beer has won dozens of awards, and she speaks at conferences all across the country.

“She got into it and even today, she’s quite the lady when it comes to beer,” said Ed Stoudt. “It means a lot, the first one. There was no other. It was very much a male thing, and she made it. She did it.”

However, Carol hit bumps along the way as she tried to sell her beer in a male-dominated industry. In the early 1990s, she struggled to get in the door at a local bar.

“He said ‘Carol you have to stay in the room next door’. I said ‘Why?’. ‘Well, females are not allowed at the bar’. And I said, ‘I’m not here to drink beer, I’m here to sell beer’,” said Stoudt. “No woman was allowed in that bar. If they wanted a beverage, they had to be served in the next room. How appalling.”

More than 30 years later, Carol has sold her beer across the nation and changed the fabric of the country’s beer industry. Now, she’s scaling back, selling her beer exclusively in Pennsylvania.

“The brewery has brought attention to the Stoudts Black Angus Restaurant and a lot of people are coming from all over, I think for the food but also for the beer. I started out very small and have grown in a nice way,” said Stoudt.

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