Marquette, MI – 10/20/2019 – I had a great conversation with Kylie Bunting this week about the start up and operation of the organization known as Barley’s Angels UP. Barley’s Angels is an organization aimed at providing a welcoming environment for women to bond over craft beer. Barley’s Angels is an international organization that has found a new chapter right here in the Upper Peninsula. Kylie Bunting is a Marquette native, who hoped Barley’s Angels would thrive in the UP culture. And she was right. Check out our conversation below and learn about how you can get involved in this new and exciting organization!
What exactly is Barley’s Angels?
Barley’s Angels is actually an international organization. It was started by a woman in Portland, Oregon. There are chapters all across the world. We are the only chapter in Michigan. It’s an organization the brings together women who either really like craft beer, or want to learn more about craft beer, in a non-intimidating environment. It brings people together to support local businesses, and drink a beer.
How did you hear about Barley’s Angels and how did you get involved?
I’m originally from Marquette and graduated from NMU in 2011. I moved to Chicago to pursue a career in Communications. I did public relations through the food and beverage industry and through that I was working with craft beer bars, breweries, and things like that. One of the women I was working with was running the Chicago chapter of Barley’s Angels. My sister-in-law and I started going to these Barley’s Angels events just as guests. The woman didn’t have time to do it anymore so she asked my sister-in-law and I if we wanted to take it over. So we became the co-organizers of Barley’s Angels Chicago, which we ran monthly events for a little over four years. So then when I moved back home, one of the first things I did was email the woman in Portland and say I wanted to start a UP Chapter of Barley’s Angels and she was like go for it! We had our first event in March (2019). We’ve had two events so far and another one next week.
What is your specific role in the group?
I’m the founder, and I organize all the events. I reach out to local businesses and breweries. It’s not just specific to breweries either, we highlight them, but I just had a meeting last week with Cafe Bodega and we’re going to do an event there. It’s an open thing, we don’t have to go to breweries every time. I send out press releases and do the press leading up to the event. I do have a Co-Pilot named Emily Hines. She is a craft beer and travel writer, as well as a social media strategist. She is my partner in crime too, and she helps me out with execution of the events as well.
How often do you meet?
We meet about everything three months. Since we’ve only met twice we don’t have a set schedule yet. We had one in March, in June, and we’ll have one here in October, and our next one will be in January.
Is there a schedule online that we could find?
Facebook is what I’m doing primarily right now, I hope to start a website. I do have a newsletter that goes out so that’s where I send information on events first, then it’ll go live on Facebook after that.
Why is it important that there’s a group like this specifically for women?
It’s just a nice opportunity, and it’s non-intimidating. I feel like in an environment where you’re able to ask questions and feel like everybody is on the same page as you. It was a bigger problem before than it is now. Women are in the craft beer industry now. It’s not as uncommon to see that. I always use this example of when I was living in Chicago I would sit down at a bar and the bartender would automatically assume that I wanted the fruitiest, girliest beer on the list. Which I like those, but I also like the porters, the IPAs, the other things too. I think that common misconception is what lead to the group to begin with. Now I just think it’s a great opportunity for women to get out and to learn about it. It can be for anybody. It can be for someone who is a brewer for a living and wants to just hang out with other women who like beer, or it can be somebody who only drinks Bud Light and wants to explore craft beer. So that’s the thing about each one of these events is some sort of educational component. We’ll do something whether it’s a brewery tour, where we learn about the brewing process but also about what makes that brewery unique. At Cafe Bodega were actually going to do a pairing event. So the chef is going to talk about how she pairs flavors with the beers. Everything has an educational component to it, but it’s in a really chill way. We usually do them on week nights, and the events usually last about 2 hours.
How do you become a member?
To be a member you don’t actually have to pay anything. So the moment you come to one Barley’s Angels event you’re already a member, there’s not a specific membership process.
What is the goal of the group?
I think my goal is to just to continue to have these events be a success. We had over 25 people at the last event, we have 50 people signed up to come to our event at Upper Peninsula Brewing Company next week. Which is very cool. So for me it’s just about having these events consistently, and having people enjoy them and continue to come to them. I just want it to be something fun and something known in the community that women can do, explore, and have fun with!
You said you have 50 women signed up for the next gathering, is that how many women you have signed up currently?
I would say probably about that many. It’s hard to say so far. We usually get between 20-30 people at events. This one is a little bit higher because it’s at Upper Peninsula Brewing Company which hasn’t opened yet so it’s going to be a preview. It’s going to be a Halloween candy and beer pairing event, so I think people are very excited about that. Probably about 50 people have interacted with our group so far for the past 6 months we’ve been a chapter.
Has there been a memorable experience that has stood out to you so far at a Barley’s Angels gathering you had?
For me, I was a little afraid at first. I knew the organization was successful in Chicago because there’s a big pool of people, craft beer is a big thing, and there’s a lot of places to go. I was nervous to bring it up here. So really the most memorable thing for me was just walking into that first event at The Ore Dock in March and having over 20 people come which I think is great for something that just started, having all three TV Crews there and interested in it, made it the most exciting for me. Thinking back to my time in Chicago, and the people that I met through Barley’s Angels have become life long friends. Some of them were invited to my wedding! It’s just become an outlet to meet people and bond with them in a different sort of way.
Anything else you would like to add about Barley’s Angels UP?
I try to keep all of the events at a fairly low and affordable cost. I don’t make any money off the events. All of the ticket sales go back into the breweries or local businesses. So that’s important to know too that it’s money going back into your community, and money going back into small businesses. That’s our goal to support small businesses, explore craft beer, learn new things, and meet new people.
I hope this interview makes you as excited as I am about this great new organization in the UP! Kylie’s enthusiasm for this group and their mission to bring people together to bond and learn over craft beer is prevalent throughout this interview and our time together. Please check out Barley’s Angels UP on Facebook, and get involved if you’re interested.
Sign up for the newsletter by sending Barley’s Angels an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also sign up by attending any of the bar events. Check out my other interviews here!