This trailblazing sister combined her love of Alpha Chi Omega and her business to make an impact in her community.
By Courtney Servaes (Omicron, Baker University)
The first time Madison Mater and I met, she was interviewing for a position at my brewery, Servaes Brewing Company, which had recently opened in Shawnee, Kansas. It became clear early on that Madison and I had several things in common — craft beer, Baker University and Alpha Chi Omega. Madison quickly became an integral part of our brewery family.
The brewery opened April 20, 2019, making me the first female head brewer and owner in the state of Kansas. Being a woman in the beer industry can be a challenge, and I knew it would be. I graduated from Baker University in December 2009 and started brewing in 2012 after a friend introduced me to the hobby. Even as a homebrewer, the male-to-female ratio seemed overwhelming and, at times, discouraging.
But I fell in love with beer and the process of brewing good beer, and the lack of women didn’t matter as much as pursuing my dreams. Brewing quickly became both a passion and an obsession. My homebrewing equipment took over my kitchen, garage and basement. After several years of taking my homebrew to area beer festivals and getting feedback, I decided it was time to open a business.
Since opening, I’ve brewed almost 150 unique beers. Some of these beers have been light and easy to drink. Others have been sour or dark. The brewing process varies based on the style of beer. Typically, brewing a beer consists of a 6-hour brewday that involves taking hundreds of pounds of grain and mashing it in water for more than an hour. After the mash, the beer is boiled for a designated period of time, depending on the style. Once the boil is over, the beer is chilled and transferred to large fermenters for anywhere from two weeks to four months.
Of the 150 unique beers I’ve brewed so far, one of my favorites was a beer Madison and I brewed in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We decided to brew a sour ale, using edible dried red carnations in the boil and adding raspberry purée before canning. We chose red carnations because of the flower’s connection to Alpha Chi Omega, and we picked raspberry purée to give the beer a purple hue, the color of domestic violence awareness.
Since posting about this beer on social media, we heard from so many sisters across the United States, and on the Friday when the beer was released, we had many show up to the brewery to buy it. “It brought in some faces that I hadn’t seen in years, and that was pretty awesome,” Madison said.
Throughout our time in Alpha Chi Omega, Madison and I both grew to understand the importance of continued awareness about domestic violence and how it impacts one in four women. We donated 10% of proceeds from the beer to a local domestic violence shelter that helps around 8,000 people a year. It is our hope that we will make this beer an annual release so we can continue to support victims of domestic violence.