Frances Michelle Lopez tends to gets obsessed with things. In high school, the 30-year-old Silver Lake native (who goes by “Franny”) was all about community service. Accepted on open enrollment to Beverly Hills High School, she served as a regional president for Kiwanis Club and became, in her words, “one of those demonic Key Club people.”
Then she moved to Phoenix to attend journalism school and discovered the underground music scene, which prompted her to start her own vinyl-only label, run her own booking and promotions company and single-handedly organize a quarterly music festival that became a launching pad for successful local bands like Andrew Jackson Jihad.
Then she found craft beer.
“Craft beer came along and just annihilated me,” Lopez says. “Instead of seeking out Japanese import versions of records, I was looking at batch numbers on bottles of sour beers.”
“I couldn’t pick one brewery to put my energy behind.” —Frances Michelle Lopez
Last summer, when Lopez left her job as the social media editor for Golden Road Brewing, she quickly drew up a lofty two-year plan for the L.A. Brewers Guild, a 3-year-old organization that supports and advocates for the nearly 50 craft breweries in L.A. County. She believed her plan would kick-start the then–self-run organization into a legitimate, full-time guild. The guild hired her — as its first executive director — to see her plan through.
“When I was thinking about how to be more involved, I couldn’t pick one brewery to put my energy behind,” she says. “If [the guild] hadn’t hired me, I’d probably be doing this stuff anyway. If they had asked me for a 10-year plan, I’d probably have one of those too.”
Late last year, Lopez launched paid “enthusiast” memberships for the guild, part of her plan to increase the guild’s visibility and community engagement. When the 30 cases of glassware and boxes of swag for the several hundred new members were ready, she had to rent a U-Haul to get it all to her sardine tin–size Hollywood apartment, where she filled, labeled and mailed each box. The experience reminded her of her record-label days, doing things yourself with the resources you have.
“Half my skill set at the guild was earned helping struggling artists,” she says. “Brewers are struggling artists, too.”
Though Lopez continues to pursue her other interests — she recently launched an art and poetry zine called Fine Print and still dreams of being a food writer — she says craft beer will rule her heart for a long time.
“No matter what, I crave camaraderie and community,” she says. “I love that beer is common ground for people that didn’t know they had common ground.”