Meredith Heil is one of Urban Oyster‘s newest tour guides, having begun with the company in the summer of 2013. She used to work at the Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side, where she became friends with Laura Lee. it was Lee who let her know about the job opening. Heil was slated to train with Lee on two tours. On the second, Lee was ill so Heil gave the whole tour by herself. She’s now a guide for the Fermented NY Craft Beer Crawl in Williamsburg.
“I don’t remember not being into beer,” says Heil, who also writes for the NYC-based blog Beerded Ladies. “In college I came across [Dogfish Head’s] Festina Peche. It kind of blew my mind about how beer could taste. I became interested and tried new beers. I’ve always traveled a lot, I like to drive across the country. Breweries became a nice way to see new areas.”
Originally from St. Louis, Heil enjoys conducting the beer tours because each is different, and she has the opportunity to meet new people. “We can’t drink on them. So you’re basically the sober companion for the group,” she laughs. “The dynamics change depending on the size. For a small group I have to talk a lot. With a big group they just want to party, especially if they all know each other.”
For the Williamsburg crawl, she takes tourers from Barcade, to Spuyten Duyvil, to Breukelen Bier Merchants, and finishes at Mugs Ale House. “Each one of the bars is really integral to the NYC craft beer scene. There’s a different sort of aspect of the scene that they each represent,” she notes. Barcade is a specialized craft beer bar, Spuyten Duyvil showcases rare, European beers, Breukelen Bier Merchants is a family run modern bottle shop and Mugs is a great craft beer sports bar, she explains.
Heil enjoys learning new things through these tours. “When we go to Breukelen Bier Merchants, it’s really interesting because we talk about what a bottle shop is and how it’s kind of the beer world’s answer to a wine store,” she says. Conversation will lead to licensing and state laws, and sometimes tourers will tell her about the alcohol laws in their home states.
“I get to really stay on top of new beers that are coming out,” she notes. “Barcade was one of first to get [Brooklyn Brewery’s] Cuvee la Boîte.” And depending on the crowd she has, some people on the tours might want to continue after it’s over, so she points them in the direction of Torst, or Brooklyn Brewery. “One of the things that i like about the mission of the tour and things that I’ve learned is just how much New York, and Brooklyn in particular, was built on beer – culturally and economically.”
This post is sponsored by Urban Oyster
Photo courtesy of Beerded Ladies