From IT to IPA: Irish craft brew couple in Halifax for BeerFest

August 6, 2015 BY ZANE WOODFORD

Gráinne Walsh and Tim Barber knew they needed a change; they just didn’t know brewing was the answer.

But after the Irish husband-wife craft beer team tried their hand at brewing up a batch of home brew, they realized it was time to get out of the IT industry, and into craft beer.

“There’s great overlap between the tech industry and craft beer,” Walsh said Thursday.

“It’s people who are geeky about tech, or geeky about graphics or geeky about gaming, and we’re geeky about beer.”
Well, that geekiness paid off.

In 2010 the couple developed a business plan, in 2011 they launched the brewery and by 2012 they were both into Metalman Brewing Co,. full-time.

Now, they have seven people working for them, a full brewery and their own canning line pushing out 15 different beers.

A few of those will be available at this weekend’s ninth annual Halifax Seaport BeerFest, where Walsh and Barber are special guests.

On Saturday afternoon, Walsh will lead an “all-star panel” of women in the craft beer industry for VIP ticket holders.

Much like the tech world she was a part of before, Walsh sees brewing as a traditionally male-dominated industry.

“In Ireland, beer has a bit of an image problem that it is very much seen as a man’s drink, and it’s refreshing to come here and see that there are way more women here drinking beer than in Ireland,” she said.

She said there’s also an image that beer isn’t “sophisticated.”

“I think a lot of that has to do with really targeted marketing and advertising in the 80s and 90s that beer is for boys who are trying to get away from their nagging women-folk.”

These, she said, are hard stereotypes to shake, though she concedes, women in the tech industry have it worse than women in the beer industry.

Halifax Seaport BeerFest 2015:

* 300 beers and ciders
* 50 per cent Atlantic Canadian products
* 31 gluten-free options

Times: Friday 7-9:30 p.m.; Saturday 2-4:30 p.m. and 7-9:30 p.m.

Tickets: $45 + tax advance; $50 + tax at the door