Brewing beer has been a focal point of civilizations for a long time, and modern-day craft breweries like Brick Vault Brewery and Barbecue in Marathon are carrying on the tradition. Head Brewer and Alpine resident Amy Oxenham has successfully turned her passion and skills into a profession, and followed her dream of becoming a brew maker. A native of Baltimore, Md., Oxenham has called Alpine and the Big Bend home for 12 years, and at the Brick Vault Brewery since March.
Before that, Oxenham taught at Alpine Montessori School, and even obtained a biology degree at Sul Ross State University.
The head brewer balances her passion with motherhood, as she has two young children.
“When my oldest daughter was ready to be in school, I wanted her to grow up in Alpine and out here,” said Oxenham.
Brodie Pierce was Oxenham’s former co-worker at Big Bend Brewing Company, and asked her to fill the head brewer job at the Brick Vault, something Oxenham welcomed with open arms. Brew master and former Alpine resident Steve Anderson, founder of Big Bend Brewing Company, took Oxenham under his wing, and taught her the art of brew making, even sending her to brewery school at Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago, Ill. in 2015. Anderson passed away later that year.
Brick Vault Brewery has now partnered with Midland-based Tall City Brewing Company and other West Texas breweries for an extensive promotional campaign, named Support West Texas Breweries, to engage with the craft beer community in this part of Texas.
“We are the only brewery for 200 miles!” exclaimed Oxenham. “People in Midland will take a day trip or a long weekend out here, and it puts us on that radar, because we are so small.” Oxenham has six different beers that she created on tap, along with eight different beer styles. She enjoys sharing her creations with the adventurous, whether domestic or craft beer fans. She is also planning a special beer to celebrate Oktoberfest, which is right around the corner.
Oxenham has a background in agriculture and baking, and said brew making was a very old profession. Her experience on farms and fermentation processes enabled her to naturally transition into brewery.
“I think female brewers are sort of a novelty,” she said. “It used to be in the domestic domain, and women were brewers through most of history until industrialization.”
Oxenham is motivated to find other women who share her love of beer, and would like to start a women’s brewing club to collaborate on beer and brew making.
“I want to expressly encourage women to come out to the brewery, to reach out to me, and talk about beer,” said Oxenham. “I’m so happy to be here. I love everything about this job! It’s been awesome.”