October 20, 2021
Hopportunity Awaits is a brew on a mission to help highlight careers in craft beer, and inspire more of us to hold the door for the unique talent among us, creating more pathways for diversity, in every sense, across every role. Partial proceeds will benefit Craft x EDU as we work together to launch an educational grant for emerging professionals in craft beer.
On the cans, you will meet 10 industry professionals who are ready to tell their remarkable stories of how they got their start and paved their own path in craft, rules be damned.
Without further ado…
Meet Aadam Soorma, an award-winning beer columnist turned head of marketing who’s proud to pour in Pittsburgh.
Tell us your origin story. How did you discover the world of craft beer, or what inspired you to join?
I went to college at Ohio university. The brewery in our town was called Jackie O’s, which was my first introduction to craft beer. They had these awesome event nights with live music. This was 2007, where there were a lot of wheat beers and stouts. At the time I didn’t think too deeply about the craft, but loved the vibe.
Fast forward a bunch, the first time I started working in craft beer was as a tour guide. My old buddy in Pittsburgh found a yellow school bus that he commissioned, bought a vinyl wrap, and redid the seating. It was a craft beer tour bus, and we’re seeing a bit of a renaissance in craft beer in Pittsburgh. New, smaller breweries opening pretty much every month.
My buddy who owned the bus was super strategic, but didn’t enjoy talking. But I love it. So I got a commercial driver’s license , and gave tours from 2016 – 2020. We had relationships with about two dozen craft breweries, and participants would get three breweries each.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 killed the business.
When that ended, I reconnected with my journalism side. Our local TV station, WTAE, is owned by Hearst, who was trying to roll out a segment called Very Local in Pittsburgh.
Then, I was asked to run their digital. Doing the tour guide stuff, I asked if I could have a beer column. Before COVID-19, I wrote about events and releases throughout Pittsburgh. It kept ramping up, and I was surprised with its consistency.
At the end of 2019, I won an award for my column, and I was pretty impressed and surprised. They noted out a few of my pieces around small communities with breweries.
Since I was adjacent to the beer as a tour guide and writer, that led me to Trace.
Dave Kushner, the owner, was my neighbor. We would talk on our porches about beer. And he always said, if he opened a brewery, he would call me.
We joked about it, but in 2019 it got more serious. In May of 2020, I joined, picking up bartending shifts and helping with digital content.
What do you love about the craft beer community?
From the perspective of Pittsburgh, it’s the collaborative camaraderie. When I think about places like my hometown, we have a very different way of approaching community. Here, everyone is willing to jump in, help out.
For example, when a new local food truck opened, and we immediately connected them and booked them. A rising tide lifts all boats.
Where would you love to see it grow or improve?
Honestly, just seeing more folks like me. Seeing more women, people of color, and LGBTQ community coming into the taproom.
Our General Manager, Katie, comes from event production. When we started Trace, our top focus was on inclusion.
Beer is a fun beverage, and it should be fun for everyone. Whether they’re working in beer, or just enjoying a tap room and feeling comfortable. It’s rad to see the diverse, multicultural type of vibe.
Outreach is the name of the game. We’ve had a drag brunch series, we work with food trucks that are minority owned. The city took note, and Trace will be the centralized hub for Pittsburgh Pride Month.
We only do outreach so our folks that drink here automatically support their business. We also try to only do food trucks on Friday and Saturday, and might strike weird, but we want to support the brick and mortar locations. We leave Friday and Saturday open, and people can bring the food in if they’d like.
Selfishly, I’m proud we have more people of color on staff then most. We’re a holistic staff that thinks about that. We love looking at photos and seeing the diversity reflected back.
When the guests become regulars, Trace does have a focus on inclusivity and diversion. We try our best to walk the walk.
There’s a lot of elderly folks here too. One of the locals, Ms. Kim, who’s 80, came by and saw we have a wood burning fireplace. All she wants to do is sit by the fireplace, and we let her hang out all day. She’s not the biggest spender, but she talks to the other folks in the community, and we can give her the experience she wants.
What types of skills have helped you personally succeed in this industry?
Coming from writing and content production, it’s the storytelling that works. It’s changed a lot over the years.
I really like having that skillset, and I can take information, and parse it into a story. That is super helpful, and it’s the vehicle to tell those stories. Writing, listening, and storytelling effectively. I’m not the best photographer, but I can prepare the shot list, and work with photographers to do the right visuals for the campaign. We compliment each other.
Who in the craft beer industry do you admire?
I grew up with Rafael, and he’s native to Puerto Rico. He got into beer called JFB in Ohio, and then he moved to Austin TX, and he’s been working up the ranks at PintHouse, one of his beers won gold at Great American Beer Festival.
What is the most memorable brew you’ve ever had?
The brewery I live near is called Dancing Gnome. They’ve pushed the craft beer far.
What stood out to me was their Sassafrass brew. It was a 2.8% petite hazy IPA. They dropped the gravity so well, and I really appreciate that. It was a part of their collaboration with Tree Pittsburgh.
Tap Takeaway >> Collaborations are always a good idea. Read about this ale to pine over here.
See what’s happening at Trace Brewing here.
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