Two Roads Worker’s Comp Saison was one of the first craft beers I remember trying; it was a pleasant American echo of the farmhouse ales I had fallen in love with while in the Netherlands. Going to school in Boston, Two Roads was an easy and welcome regular pick at my local bottle shop. The beer might not have been as sexy as the cans I’d pick up from Trillium or Mystic, but it was reliably tasty and easily shared with friends.

Beyond making their own quality beer, Two Roads serves as a contract facility for several stellar East Coast breweries including Stillwater, Evil Twin, and Lawson’s Finest. I was won over by Two Roads’ interpretation of a saison but they continue to gather fans by producing exciting modern styles like hazy IPAs–both for breweries like Stillwater and for themselves (Two Juicy is an excellent and readily accessible New England IPA).

Two Roads Brewing Co. will be joining us during Beers With(out) Beards, our week of events in New York City celebrating women in the craft beer industry. We decided to chat with Megan Zachry, the Director of Sales at Two Roads Brewing Co., who will be joining us at the Breaking Beer-iers Beer and Ramen Dinner and at the Beers With(out) Beards festival. The beer dinner is sadly sold out but there are still tickets for the tasting festival on August 10th. Get your tickets here.

Zachry shared her thoughts on the state of hazy IPAs, her favorite food and beer pairings, and how she got her start in the industry. Read our conversation below!

John A. Paradiso: How’d you get your start in the beer industry?

Meghan Zachry: As many people in this industry do, I started bartending part-time in college, which started me on my craft beer adventures. I was fortunate to land a gig at The Ginger Man in Norwalk, CT, which was recognized as one of the best craft beer bars in Connecticut. The training that was provided there was really incredible and they emphasized beer education with their staff as much as I have ever seen a bar do. Once I was given the opportunity to learn about beer styles, brewing, flavor nuances, and the overall beer business, I dove in head first!

I knew that this was the industry for me so I decided that I wanted to make a career out of it. My manager at the time suggested that I apply to a start-up that was getting going nearby, so I followed his advice and applied to Two Roads. I landed the position as Two Road’s first Sales Manager and have been given incredible support and opportunities within the company ever since. I have been very lucky to have been given the opportunity to grow personally and professionally while being a part of the success of such an amazing company. When I started on this “road” back in 2012, we had 10 employees and a lot of aspiration. I am proud to say that we now have upwards of 160 employees and Two Roads has grown to be the 50th largest independent craft brewery in the US!

JP: What’s your favorite beer and food pairing?

MZ: A dry and sessionable farmhouse ale with a grilled chicken sandwich. There is something simple and beautiful about a clean but expressive saison with a basic, but perfectly satisfying juicy chicken cutlet on great bread with lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Perfection!

JP: What are your thoughts on the state of hazy IPAs in the industry?

MZ: I don’t see this style being a flash-in-the-pan fad. I do hope that we find more consistency in our standards of what makes a great hazy IPA and pull away from “the hazier, the better.” In some cases, that may lead to a phenomenal beer, but I have also found that chasing the haze just for the sake of visual aesthetics can lead to a large amount of mediocre tasting beers. Hazy is great but it is the flavor and balance that I am more focused on. Hazy IPAs are meant to produce a big hop aroma and flavor while also having the visual, and some brewers only focus on the latter. Beers that can deliver on hazy while still maintaining quality are certainly here to stay!

JP: What is your favorite beer to drink now?

MZ: I’ll always reach for a sour. I’m fortunate enough that my office is located in our Experimental Brewing facility, Area Two, so a world-class fruited sour is always accessible. Outside of the Two Roads brand, Allagash has always been a beer crush of mine. They simply make great beer and I am a fan-girl for their sour program. Fox Farm out of Connecticut is also doing some interesting stuff with sours. Their Rove Belgian Farmhouse Ale is amazing! I also know that an Oskar Blues IPA is always available and will never let me down!

JP: Are you reading anything interesting?

MZ: I like to alternate between fiction and books that help foster professional and mental growth. Right now, I am reading Radical Candor by Kim Scott. It’s a great look at team management that encourages honesty and open communication. It talks a lot about reciprocal communication and how to take feedback, as well as provide feedback that is direct and honest. It gives great advice on how to adapt your approach to each team member’s individual traits. It’s been an eye-opener in terms of the best ways to practice effective leadership.

JP: Tell me about a time you grew as a person.

MZ: I would like to think that we all are continuously growing as people and that each experience, good and bad, changes your outlook as you move forward. Seven years ago, I started as a non-experienced salesperson with a start-up brewery which has now grown to be the 50th largest craft brand in the country. Over the course of those years, I have learned how to build a sales organization, launch new brands and new markets, and manage and work effectively with a large team. I also learned how to fight for ideas, but how also to accept when those ideas are not used and move on. These lessons, and a thousand others, were learned by trial. I hope that I never stop growing as a person, professionally and personally, and that I can continue to adapt to situations and stay open to growth.

JP: Give us a few songs to add to an all-star bottle share playlist.

MZ: “40oz to Freedom,” Sublime — It’s the ultimate drinking song.
“Uptown Funk,” Bruno Mars & Mark Ronson — Just try not to dance while you’re popping a bottle of some barnyard funky goodness!
“Only the Good Die Young,” Billy Joel — Because every good playlist should have Billy Joel!
“I Got Loaded,” The Wood Brothers — Because, the Wood Brothers.

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