Meg Gill is not a Bud Light girl.
The Golden Road Brewing co-founder, 27, has had to correct this assumption time and again. The good-old-boy network within the beer industry has nothing on customers at promotional events, convinced that any young woman in attendance must be trading on her femininity to push a product.
Plus she prefers IPAs.
The competitive swimmer and Yale graduate is an inadvertent iconoclast, one who has blazed her own path from New Haven to Colorado to California. Still, when she first started in the business, Gill knew to dance around her age. She'd answer "2003" when asked for the year of her graduation -- never mentioning that was the year she graduated high school.
"It's not lying!" Gill says, laughing. "So I've always had this four-year gap, where I played older than I am. When the first [Golden Road press] release came out, I forwarded it to all the guys who supported me. All of them were just in hysterics. 'You're kidding, you were 23 when I met you?' "
Gill co-founded her rapidly expanding brand with Tony Yanow of Tony's Darts Away and Mohawk Bend in 2011. Together with master brewer Jon Carpenter, they distill the city into 16-ounce cans at warehouses on an industrial strip alongside the Los Angeles River basin, off the 134.
Golden Road limits sales to the counties that surround L.A. Exceptions are made from time to time -- including a cameo at Coachella -- but they are adamant about not shipping out of state. After all, in beer, youth is an asset: The quality can only be maintained if the brew is kept cold and away from sunlight and consumed within two months.
That's why Gill is a self-described "die-hard" supporter of drinking local. Imports from Germany and Belgium are "world-class," she says. However, "they taste better in Belgium. They taste better in Germany. I know this for a fact, because I've had them over there."
Gill lives in Atwater Village, across the street from the Tam O'Shanter, Golden Road's first draft account. She has ridden her skateboard the two miles to work, which comes in handy after long days punctuated by drinking.
"Skitching rides from random strangers is not something I would recommend doing, but it has happened when I haven't had the energy or stamina to make it all the way home," she says ruefully.
As for her personal life, Gill adheres to a few simple rules. She avoids talking about her dating life at work -- and from dating guys who talk about nothing but her work.
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"I stay away from super beer geeks, like the home-brewer guys. They'll want to talk to me for hours," she says. "It's too much. It's like, 'All right, dude, I get it. You brew IPAs at home, and you get to drink what you brew. Cool.' "
But rules are made to be broken. Of her current guy, she says, "I didn't realize that he is a home brewer when we first started hanging out. Then I saw his apartment. I was, like, 'What? Why do you have all these carboys? Why do you have a kegerator? What is going on?' He said, 'Yeah, I brew beer at home.' "
She laughs. "He's a big nerd. It's pretty funny. But yeah, he's awesome. And he works pretty hard, too."