Raise A Glass with Garrett Lee Williams

Co-Owner of Home Brewed Events and G.M. at Evil Genius Beer Co.

  • Introduce yourself and talk about where you are currently working.

I’m Garrett Lee Williams and am currently the General Manager at Evil Genius Beer Co: The Lab located in Fishtown. Additionally I am a Board director for the Philadelphia Chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild.

  • What experiences and/or jobs led you to where you are now?

I’ve been behind a plank of wood for almost every job I’ve ever held. From my first job washing dishes at the pizzeria across the street from my house, to many years as a barista anywhere from local Camp Hill Cornerstone to Starbuck in Maui, and lots of time slinging burritos at Neato Burrito. Leading up to my current job though, my wife Meredith and I started Home Brewed Events about 6 years ago and through various connections ended up talking with the owners of Evil Genius and helping them with a series of pop-up beer gardens while the building was being finished. After that, I got the dream job I didn’t know that I even wanted and now I get to spend every day planning silly events, working with an amazing amount of amazing people, and of course drinking stellar beers. It’s. Rad.

  • What did you want to be growing up?

Carpenter. When I was about 8 I thought I was going to look like Tony Danza when I grew up (I don’t) and that he was a carpenter (he wasn’t).

  • What was your gateway beer? Do you still enjoy it?

Magic Hat #9 was about as weird as it got locally when I came of age. I drank it a lot. I haven’t had one in a while but I bet it’s exactly the same and still delicious. Prior to my legality in the states though, I took a long vacation to Leiden and had my first “legal” beer there. It was Duvel and I’m still in love with that beer.

  • What is your favorite band or album to listen to while drinking a good beer?

HOW IS THIS EVEN A QUESTION THAT YOU CAN ANSWER? Much to the chagrin of my wife, staff and co-workers, I was raised a Parrot Head so I listen to Jimmy Buffet a lot. Any ‘Cryin and Dyin’ country music gets me groovin’ and also my love for Paul Simon knows no bounds and is everlasting.

  • What’s your ‘local’ in Philly and why?

Well, on the way home is this mostly Puerto Rican bar that I drink at about twice a week on the way home. I am the only 30 something gringo that hangs out there and they are amazing people who tolerate me reading while I’m at a loud, dark, cheap bar. Otherwise, I try to bounce around the neighborhood of Fishtown as much as possible. Oh, not a real shocker here but The Lab is somewhere I drink a lot. They ALSO tolerate me reading at the bar.

  • Who do you look up to in the industry?

Oh that’s easy. I’m only 5’9” so most people are taller than I am. I look up to just about everyone.

Seriously though, I’d like to shoutout to Canyon Shayer over at Philadelphia Distilling. He’s the Bar Manager there and may actually be the kindest and most competent person I’ve ever met. He also makes one helluva gimlet.

  • What is something that not many people know about you?

When I was 8 my parents signed me up for ballet. I did ballet, jazz, tap, ballroom, gymnastics and sadly also did some Hip-Hop classes. I left ballet when I sustained an injury to my right hip (which is why I limp when I’m tired) where I pulled it out of its socket. It was really lame. I still miss ballet all the time and if you buy me a couple drinks I’ll show you my intro from the last Nutcracker performance I did.

Raise A Glass with Ashley Lanza

Home Brewed Events, Chhaya Cafe & Iron Hill Brewery

  • Introduce yourself and talk about where you are currently working.

My Name is Ashley Lanza, I’ve been working with Meredith & Home Brewed Events for about three years now! When I’m not helping out with brewing demos and beer tasting classes, you can find me over at Chhaya Cafe in South Philadelphia. I’ve recently joined the team over at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant as well. Clearly I like to keep busy!

  • What experiences and/or jobs led you to where you are now?

My first restaurant job was at a chain called Mellow Mushroom. Their focus was on craft beer and pizza. From that job I fell in love with beer and knew I wanted to continue learning.

  • What did you want to be growing up?

I honestly had a lot of trouble attempting to figure that out in high school and never really had any sense of direction, but once I stepped into the service industry I knew that was where I wanted to be.

  • What was your gateway beer? Do you still enjoy it?

I would have to say Blue Moon, pretty basic but I was used to drinking PBR. I didn’t realize beer could actually taste good until someone gave me one of those. I don’t lean toward drinking wheat beers anymore but every now and then on a hot day it’s nice and refreshing.

  • What is your favorite band or album to listen to while drinking a good beer?

Well anyone that knows me knows that I love Alkaline Trio and I could listen to them doing anything and everything.

  • What’s your ‘local’ in Philly and why?

I frequent Lucky 13 Pub a lot just because it’s close by and the staff there is great. My friends and I like to meet up for 2 dollar dawgz every Tuesday.

  • Who do you look up to in the industry? AND What is something that you have accomplished that you are proud of?

Honestly Meredith of Home Brewed Events has been a huge influence for me. She has taught me so much and has opened so many doors for me in the industry. We recently went on a trip to Belgium with Philly Loves Beer and I felt super proud and honored to have been able to join all of them. I’ve also recently passed my Cicerone Beer Server exam and aim to keep moving forward with that.

  • What is something that not many people know about you?

I’m super into Taxidermy and I try to pop into any antique stores I can to search for cool pieces. (Including a famous Taxidermy shop in Amsterdam!)

Raise A Glass with Meredith Williams

Co-Owner of Home Brewed Events

  • Introduce yourself and talk about where you are currently working.

Hello, I am Meredith Megan Rebar Williams and the co-owner of Home Brewed Events. We have grown into a noted Philadelphia-based event management and beer and spirits education company. Founded in 2013, we specialize in producing events, everything from small corporate team building events to large-scale festivals. Home Brewed Events works with local businesses and nonprofits to advance beer and spirits culture within the artisan food and beverage scene.

  • What experiences and/or jobs led you to where you are now?

From the time I was a kid, I wanted to own my own business. My first business was making bandanas for dogs and I sold a bunch to our local dog boarding company, Noah’s Pet Motel. Next, I moved into booking bands and performers. As a teenager I would rent the fire hall for my friends’ bands to play. In college, I worked with local bars to book original, mostly punk, ska and rockabilly bands. Some highlights include Agent Orange, The Toasters and The Menzingers. While in college, I found a bar called Zeno’s that made me fall in love with beer. With their beer passport in hand, I started studying (aka drinking) as many different beers as I could to understand why beer tastes the way it does.

Out of college, I moved to Harrisburg for a job with the American Cancer Society running four annual Relay For Life events and some smaller fundraisers learning about event planning and non-profit fundraising. Around the same time, I started booking shows at the Abbey Bar at Appalachian Brewing Company with a company called Greenbelt Events under the guidance of veteran Mike Van Jura, who is missed by everyone who had the chance to know him. Some the highlights from that adventure include working with Henry Rollins, Dick Dale, The Ataris, Spoon and The Avett Brothers and drinking amazing Belgian beers every night at the brewery. I started getting more into the beer industry when I took a job in the Tasting Room for Troegs Brewery during the time they moved from Harrisburg to Hershey. The amount of training and education I received in that job helped shape my future in the beer world and lay the groundwork for my Certified Cicerone classification.

After accepting a promotion with the American Cancer Society, I moved to Philadelphia with my future husband, Garrett Lee Williams. Pretty soon after settling-in we started Home Brewed Events. We wanted to share our love of beer and brewing with everyone. For the first four years, Home Brewed Events was a side project to grow and develop the concept. We started with only offering in-home brewing classes and now offer a variety of public, private, Corporate and Wedding events, as well as, event planning. With Origlio Beverage, one of the largest beer wholesalers in Philadelphia, I worked in the marketing and social media department. Our small team managed and grew the social media accounts and wrote for two publications called Draught Lines and Heady Times.

When I left Origlio Beverage, I started as a brewing intern at Saint Benjamin Brewing Company learning from their former Head Brewer, Andrew Foss. I moved into an Assistant Brewer position and was able to learn about every aspect of the brewhouse. Since it was a small team, I was even able to develop and brew a few of my own recipes while I was there.
As a part of Brew Crew Events, I helped to manage the Reading Craft Beer Festival, Phoenixville Craft Beer Festival and the NEPA Beer Festival. In collaboration with some talented individuals, I worked on and hosted various events including Noshhh and S.E.E.D. and developed signature events such as The Buzz and Local Libations Garden. Today I run Home Brewed Events full time, work as the Festival Director for 2nd Street Festival, partner with the Fairmount Park Conservancy to host CiderFest and the Ice Bar at Lemon Hill Mansion and manage the Education Committee for Philly Loves Beer.  

  • What did you want to be growing up?

Growing up I wanted to be a veterinarian, specializing in Equine care. I loved animals and thought it would be grand to help them. When I started college, I took biology classes, which later on helped me with beer and brewing sciences. Ultimately, I ended up graduating college with a BS in Marketing and a minor in Communications and Film Studies.

Another area that I thought I would end up is music. All my life I was really big into music, even though I was never a musician myself. Various career paths that interested me over the years included working for a record label (I tried REALLY hard to get Epitaph Records to hire me), tour manager for an amazing band and production assistant for a touring music festival (ahem, Warped Tour). When I graduated college, I wanted to eventually own a venue to book bands and serve great beer, similar to the Abbey Bar. While I still want to eventually have my own event space, it will be more of an educational space and open to a larger variety of events instead of being so specialized.

  • What was your gateway beer? Do you still enjoy it?

Let’s be honest, the first beer that made me say, “what is this and why does it taste so good” was Blue Moon. After drinking macro lagers during college this stood out for the spice and citrus notes and the beautiful presentation it made in a glass. It quickly moved to traditional Belgian beers, with Duvel being the one that influenced me the most. This year I was part of the team that brewed the collaboration beer for Philly Beer Week in Belgium. Getting a chance to spend the day at a brewery that I have loved from the beginning of my beer journey is priceless. To commemorate the brew day and the trip to Belgium and Amsterdam, Ashley Lanza and I got the Duvel glass logo with the crown tattooed at one of the oldest tattoo parlors in Holland, Hanky Panky Tattooing.  

  • What is your favorite band or album to listen to while drinking a good beer?

Music has always been an important part of my life. While I may not go to as many shows, I still love listening to music while I work and definitely when I am enjoying a great beer. The album that I always grab when I have friends over is London Calling by The Clash. I have owned the double vinyl album as long as I can remember and it just makes me oh so happy to listen to and share a beautiful moment with people I care about.

  • What’s your ‘local’ in Philly and why?

The place that I love to visit and definitely frequent the most would be Philadelphia Distilling. Their beautiful space is always inviting and inspiring, as well as, having an amazing staff to mix up unique cocktails that change with the seasons. As an added bonus, their industry discount on Sundays is the best in the city.  

  • Who do you look up to in the industry?

Before I knew anything about beer, I knew about Carol Stoudt. Growing up less than an hour away from Stoudts Brewing Company, the brewery and restaurant would always catch my eye and I wanted to know more. After doing some research, I found out that it was owned and operated by an incredible woman who paved the way for women like me to rejoin the brewing world. Being a part of the Pink Boots Society in Philadelphia has given me the opportunity to meet and work with Carol over the years. She is a treasure to the Pennsylvania beer scene and still very active in the brewing world.

  • What is something that not many people know about you?

I grew up riding horses and, at one time, I wanted to be a part of the U.S. Equestrian Team in the Olympics. My mom loved horses and had one when I was little, a quarter horse named Jolene. I started taking lessons when I was only 5 years old and moved into local and then larger regional horse shows. I competed in everything from hunters to jumpers and dressage to eventing. Some highlights include competing in Junior Jumpers for two seasons, showing at the Devon Horse Show for hunters and jumpers and competing at Dressage at Devon in the the F.E.I. Young Rider division against the daughters of the Campbell’s Soup empire and other future, big name riders. Currently, I am just riding for fun at a farm in Montgomery County.

Oh and I came in 2nd place for the first-ever Over The Hop: Ladies Arm Wrestling as Penny Dreadful representing Saint Benjamin Brewing Company!


Philly Tour Hub Partnership

If you are looking for a unique experience for your next private or wedding event, look no further than the new partnership between Philly Tour Hub and Home Brewed Events. Our companies will work with you to create a one-of- a-kind event for your private party, corporate team building, bachelor/bachelorette, wedding party, birthday, or anything else you are celebrating.

The tour package features Philly Tour Hub’s Private Beer Tour that explores the city’s most famous bars while learning about the history of the area along the way. Finish the adventure by brewing your own beer with Home Brewed Events and learn about the four main ingredients that go into your favorite fermented beverage. Have a deeper understanding of what goes into each beer you drink and the history of the best beer city in America!