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Happy Trails Queen of Craft

Happy Trails Queen of Craft

Carol Stoudt, Winner of the 2005 Brewers Association Recognition Award celebrating with the late Greg Noonan.

Call her the Queen of Craft Beer, the First Lady of Lager, Maiden of Maibock, the Damsel of Dunkel, Seductress of Stout, Princess of Pilsner, Heroine of Hefe-Weizen, Empress of IPA, the Belle of the Bock, the Starlet of Scarlet. Yes, we’re talking about the one and only Carol Stoudt – Goddess of Gueuze, Medusa of Marzen, Helena of Helles, Cleopatra of Cream Ale, Ninkasi of NEIPA!

Whaaat? Carol Stoudt is retiring. Say it ain’t so!! Yes, it is, and of course she can. She’s done enough for craft beer, she deserves to hang up the boots.

It is sad though that the brewery is ceasing and equipment being put up for sale – a sign of the times. Some first tier craft breweries are having a hard time competing with wave after wave of local Nanos. Times change.

Carol was a shining light in the early days of craft. We at Ale Street News kind of grew up with the Stoudt family. The first beer festival we attended after we launched in 1992, full of the flush of a new business enterprise, was the Stoudts Microfest, and we were there at every one of those legendary fests – 3 times a year – for many, many years. The fest was always a great deal – $20 got you unlimited beer and the Best of the Wursts buffet. During the break, Carol’s apron-clad husband, Ed Stoudt would carve up prime rib for the brewers (and for the Ale Street News crew). The 1990s – those were the halcyon days of craft beer, the brewers’ camaradie, the infamous hotel after-parties.

For those unfamiliar with the Stoudts origins, Carol was thrust into the brewing spotlight by Pennsylvania law which did not allow a restaurant owner – Ed Stoudt with his already-famous Black Angus steakhouse in Adamstown, PA – to also own a brewery. So, when Stoudt’s Brewery opened in 1987, it was in Carol’s name.

And she took to it like the proverbial swan to water, rolling up her sleeves, and mashing in. The equipment was good, and true, they hired many a capable brewer; and they turned out award-winning German-style beers. The Pilsner was beyond peer, and man, I miss that Honey Double Maibock.

Carol was a great representative of the new world of craft brewing – she had been a negotiator for her teachers union in PA, in fact she met Ed when she and her team were tipping a few at the Black Angus after a negotiating session. She did great work as a board member of the Institute of Brewing Studies which morphed into the current Brewers Association. A force to be reckoned with, she was perhaps the most fun after hours, more than holding her own – and that laugh, enough to rival the Bryson bellows. She was the special guest at Ale Street News’ 10 Year Anniversary Beer Dinner held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan.

Coincidentally, the Stoudts news comes at a time when Ale Street News is also in transition, as the power of print is fading – another sign of the times. We wish Carol and Ed the best for lengthy sunset years and we hope to still share a few pints.

At least they’re giving everyone a chance to say goodbye with one last Microfest on April 11.