(Photo credit: Shawn & Ed Brewing Company)
When Shawn Till and Ed Madronich, both McMaster alumni, were looking for a quality and process control manager at their Shawn & Ed Brewing Company in Dundas, they turned to McMaster’s engineering department. With a Bachelor of Engineering and Biosciences and a Master of Applied Science, Chemical Engineering, Nicole Mangiacotte was that perfect fit.
“I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to join a brewery,” says Mangiacotte, who had studied fermentation as part of her lab work at McMaster. (Her scholastic work also included a paper on Polymer Nanoparticles as a Degradable, Mucoadhesive Drug Delivery System.) The result is a job at Shawn & Ed that she says allows her to enjoy “creativity meets science.”
“At small, craft breweries, you wear a lot of hats,” says Mangiacotte of a job that is different every day. As quality and process control manager at Shawn & Ed, her responsibilities include planning and problem solving, managing production schedules, maintaining efficiency at every step of the brewing process, checking for contamination and consistency, and managing inventory. “You really have to know the ins and outs of everything,” she says. “Every time somebody asks me what I do, my answer changes.”
Shawn & Ed opened in a 150-year-old building in downtown Dundas after a 2015 kickstarter campaign. One of Mangiacotte’s favourite parts of her job is being involved in creating new Shawn & Ed products, which include three lagers and a barrelshed ale, and a rotating seasonal tap list that is available on a small-batch basis in the brewery’s brew pub. “We play to the more traditional sense of what we define as craft beer,” she says. “To us, craft means we put the time and the care and the proper method into brewing. … We don’t necessarily think of craft as the hoppiest IPA or the triple dry hop sour.”
Mangiacotte is excited about the brewing culture that has been growing steadily in Hamilton in the past few years. “The fact that we [multiple breweries] can all coexist and grow in the same space shows the need, shows the want, for craft beer,” she says. “People like the variety and like the hometown feel and are willing to accept more than one place in the community.”
When asked what advice she has for people, especially women, interested in entering the brewing industry, Mangiacotte encourages people to get out to breweries and beer festivals and “make your desire to be passionate about brewing known.” “People there are really excited about what they do. The more questions you ask the more they’re willing to talk to you,” she says.
When it comes down to it, Mangiacotte says that one of the best parts of her job is that she’s constantly able to use her logical brain, while also having fun.
“It’s beer!” she says. “You can’t take it too seriously!”