Fostering a community of women in beer
Saturday 01 July 2023
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In the rural Curacaví Valley of Chile, nestled amid serene landscapes dotted with horses and cows, Hathor has carved a niche for itself as a small but innovative craft brewery. Led by founder and owner Marcela Jiménez, Hathor is making waves in the craft beer scene, exemplifying the creativity and perseverance that have historically shaped the art of brewing. During our conversation, Marcela shares her remarkable journey and the philosophy that drives the brewery forward.
Marcela, a chemist by profession, found herself unemployed over a decade ago, which became the catalyst for her brewing venture. As beer lovers in a country where craft beer was not yet very popular, Marcela and her friend Ana began experimenting with micro-batches at home and selling to friends and family. Through this, they recognised the untapped potential of artisanal beer in Chile, seizing the opportunity to turn their passion into a thriving business.
With dedication and meticulous attention to detail, they gradually scaled up their production, captivating beer enthusiasts with their exceptional brews. Through word-of-mouth recommendations and a string of awards, Hathor Brewery soon gained national recognition and a loyal following. Their success is, however, not solely measured by their achievements; it is also defined by their unwavering commitment to fostering a community of women in the brewing industry.
From the very beginning, Marcela and her team at Hathor aimed to create a space where women could work with women, share their knowledge, learn from each other, and celebrate their collective achievements. Over time, the team expanded, with Paola who oversees finances, sales and administration, while Ana and Laura contribute their expertise to the production process. In an industry predominantly dominated by men, Hathor has emerged as a trailblazer, inspiring women across Chile to pursue their passion for brewing. Inspired by ancient Egyptian mythology, Hathor draws its name from the goddess associated with joy, dance, and the art of brewing.
With a range of five core styles—stout, Scottish ale, Belgian pale ale, weizen, and an American IPA—they offer a beer for every palate. “When people try our beers, they recognize them as ours because they really feel as though they are drinking an artisanal beer. There's an intensity, and from us, an intention that you feel that distinctness,' Marcela says proudly. Each beer it produces carries a marked intensity. From the refreshing Weizen with its hints of cloves, bananas, and spices, to the rich and smooth Foreign Extra Stout with its coffee and chocolate undertones, Hathor beers leave a lasting impression on those fortunate enough to savour them.
The rise of artisanal beer consumption in Chile over the past decade has paved the way for breweries like Hathor to flourish. While wine remains the beverage of choice for many Chileans, Hathor has played a significant role in reshaping the beer landscape and shifting cultural preferences. Marcela understands that consuming craft beer is not merely about the taste, but about experiencing something truly unique and memorable. She adds: "When someone drinks an artisanal beer, they are looking for a new sensory experience".
Bars and restaurants, once resistant to the idea of craft beer, now actively seek out Hathor's brews. The brewery also takes part in local festivities, music festivals, and outdoor concerts, creating direct connections with consumers and spreading their love for craft beer.
Community support is a core value for Hathor. The brewery has actively participated in fundraising events to assist other breweries and vineyards in its region during times of natural disasters. Solidarity and collaboration are deeply ingrained in the brewing community here, exemplifying the spirit of camaraderie that exists among Chilean brewers and proving that unity and mutual support are essential for the growth and sustainability of the industry.
While Marcella and her team look ahead, they remain conscious of their environmental impact and understand the importance of responsible resource management. Rather than pursuing endless growth, they prioritise sustainability, recognising that a larger-scale operation would increase its carbon footprint, strain local resources and disrupt the ecological balance of the region. For this brewery, growth goes hand-in-hand with respecting the land that nurtures it and ensuring the well-being of the community that surrounds it.
Marcela envisions an exciting future for Hathor. As it approaches its 10th anniversary, plans are underway to introduce a sixth beer variety – a light, fruity, and aromatic brew with a low alcohol content, that caters to the evolving preferences of the Chilean market. Additionally, it plans to transition from glass bottles to cans, embracing a packaging trend that aligns with consumer demand and facilitates broader distribution across the country.
As Hathor continues to make its mark on the beer industry, it stands as a testament to the endless possibilities that arise when passion and purpose are poured into each batch of beer. Through its intense and impactful craft beers, Hathor’s influence reverberates far beyond their idyllic valley, leaving an indelible mark on the craft beer landscape of Chile and beyond.
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