When Shaina Gold first took chemistry in college, she hated it. She didn’t mesh with her professor, and nothing about the subject made sense.
Now, she’s pursuing a hobby that’s all chemistry — and loves it.
Gold has been bartending at Gibb’s Hundred Brewing in downtown Greensboro on Saturdays since last August and recently took a stab at the brewing helm.
“Other [bartenders] have [brewed] here, and I wanted to do something more funky,” she said.
Gibb’s is known for its darker and hoppier beers, like the popular ESB and IPAs. But Gold wrote a recipe for a hefeweizen with banana and strawberry flavors.
“I have a huge sweet tooth,” Gold said. “Hefe is a dessert beer, and I like that appeal.”
She showed it to the assistant brewer, William Brown, who suggested a different yeast strain to give it more banana flavor. Other than that, he said, he just “showed up to help and make sure she didn’t scald herself.”
Gold offers a different story. “This was really the brains of William,” she said. “I was the Pinky to his Brain.”
There are two logistical reasons to get bartenders involved in the brewing process, Brown explained: So they give better tours, and so some of the burden is eased off him and the head brewer, John Priest.
But the public benefits, too. At Gold’s beer release party on April 18, a healthy crowd assembled to taste her Dishonest Hefeweizen, a name that comes from the beer’s divergence from the traditional recipe. Brown, who homebrewed for five years before working for Gibb’s, was among Gold’s supporters at the brewery last week. So was her current chemistry professor.
“There’s chemistry in bacon and in beer,” Robert Justice — “Dr. J,” as Gold calls him — pontificated over a mug of the murky yellow brew. “Every part of it is chemistry, from the bitters of hops to the sugar from malted barley.”
Justice, who has helped others homebrew for 20 years, said Gold is a star student in his chemistry course at GTCC.
“I’m proud because she makes great beer,” he said.
Now that it’s been eight years since her first college chemistry course, the subject makes sense to her, and she sees how it relates to both brewing and everyday life.
“Brewing involves chemistry and microbiology,” she said. “We tend to take it for granted, but everything is science.”
In a male-dominated industry, Gold is one of few local women brewing beer, and she’s one of the few women in a STEM field. Currently a physical therapy hand technician at Guilford Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center, she plans to apply to physician assistant school.
“Women are just as powerful in the science field as men,” Gold said.
Considering the keg kicked an hour before the release party officially ended, it’d be hard to argue with her.