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Carolyn Stiles

On a Tuesday evening at Joe Bean

Interview No. 72


What part of Rochester area you from?

I grew up in the Brighton/Pittsford area with my family and for undergrad, I went to St. Lawrence University. Then moved out to Denver for a few years.

What made you want to come back to Rochester after leaving for a while?

I love this city and I feel really passionate about it. Even when I lived in Denver, I missed the home I had here. Today there’s a really great momentum, pushing the economy and culture upward and I’m excited to be a part of it. When I was younger, I felt the city didn’t reflect me or my interests and I just wanted to get out. But then I had an opportunity to work with the Good Food Collective right after college before moving out west and it helped change my perspective. Through the job I had the opportunity to meet entrepreneurs, local producers, and creatives all striving to make the city a better place. It really opened my eyes.

What is your favorite part of living in Rochester?

The passion that people have for this city—it’s something we all embrace. We’re all contributing to the movement – to make Rochester cool and interesting, to support new initiatives, and to make it a fun place to visit or live. And we collaborate and help one another to make our initiatives happen—it’s an awesome community!

But there’s also heritage here – both with my family and the city in general, which has a great history and that’s cool too.

What’s the most unique or interesting event you’ve attended in Rochester?

Sofar concerts are always so fun. (Editor’s note: See interview #40 for Rochester Sofar leader Kelsey Delmotte’s perspective on life in ROC!).

There have also been some fun beer festivals, like Real Beer Week in June each year. We [the Rochester Beer Gals] did a super fun ice cream and beer pairing event at Swiftwater last year and the one year anniversary party for Explore Rochester was really fun too. And, I always love Jazz Fest too.

Describe your dream Rochester day.

I’d start by getting up and going for a run, most likely in Ellison Park. I’d grab coffee at Joe Bean or Ugly Duck (or any of the great coffee shops in town). I’d check out a new exhibit at the MAG or RMSC – gotta get some culture. From there, I’d probably wander down Park Ave or South Ave and grab a beer at one of our amazing local breweries. For dinner, I’d head to The Revelry, Ox and Stone, Cure, or Good Luck. You can see it’s a hard choice. With any luck there’s a Soul Rehab show, so I can end my night with some dancing.

Do you have a favorite charity/nonprofit you like to support?

Greentopia and Foodlink are two of my favorites.

Favorite local brewery?

I like them all for different reasons! Here are some highlights:

  • Roc Brewing – They have a great location and view, with an awesome urban/industrial vibe. They make some great IPAs.
  • Swiftwater – I love their patio and bar. Their sours are fun too and they push your palette.
  • Genny – Nothing beats sitting on the roof in summer.
  • Rohrbach’s – Their newly renovated Railroad Street location is amazing. I always go there for pizza and beer.
  • Lost Borough – Such a great spot too. I love that they have a run club and there’s just a gritty down to earth feel.


Favorite Rochester-made beer?

I usually go with the seasonal stuff—whatever’s hot.

What is your personal coping mechanism for cold/gray weather?

Staying cozy. I light lots of candles. I get together with friends often and stay connected with others, which I find helpful—face to face interaction is just warming.

What makes Rochester unique?

We all choose to live here. Rochester doesn’t have the draw that larger cities do. Because of that choice, I think there’s a fire in people to make this a better place, to stand up for our position as a smaller city, to drive change because we can. I think people live here and stay here because of the community, the history and the pride. The people who have started their own initiatives, they’re helping to move the city ahead. They believe enough in this city and its community support to start something. Not every city fosters that type of innovation or openness. We should be really proud of that and I think it’s unique.

What do you think could be improved?

We have to figure out how to integrate different parts of the city. People need to understand what’s going on in different neighborhoods beyond their own. And, there are sustainability issues. How do we develop the city and an economy for the long term? How do we make downtown enticing for young people?


If Rochester were a beer, what would it be?

A little out of the box, but I think that Rochester could be a sour beer. Sour beers are an old style of beer that have been a real come back in the last few years. They’re fermented with wild yeast that is either cultivated or comes from the air, so it means it’s conglomeration of many different varieties of bacteria. These types of beers are definitely an acquired taste, but those who love them, really LOVE them. So yeah, that’s kind of like Rochester in my mind.

What made you decide to found the Rochester Beer Gals?

I used to work in the beer industry and it offered a great lens to observe the beer customer of today. I noticed there were fewer women taking an active part, and fewer female consumers with the knowledge to order the beer they really wanted. There just seemed to be a gap in the marketplace. So, I started the group both as a way to build knowledge of beer among women and to create a community of women who are passionate about beer or interested in trying something new. We try to offer a new perspective of craft beer through unique experiences and events around Rochester. By creating a welcoming environment in which to try new beers, Beer Gals might find something new that they never even realized they liked. This might lead to trying more beers, exploring more breweries, and buying more beer from local beer stores. This is my way of connecting people, supporting our community and economy and building pride in our city.

What’s ahead for the Rochester Beer Gals? Any exciting events or partnerships on the horizon?

There’s a bunch of stuff on deck!

  • We’re working with Linh Phillips, AKA Sir Rocha Says, to create a Beer Guide that will be launching soon. We’re super excited about that!
  • Barstool Seminars – We had our first one recently and our next one is at Lost Borough in April. This event is more focused on the education side of things. It’s just a group of women seated the bar with a local beer expert, explaining the nuances of beer, whether it’s the ingredients or the brewing process. Our most recent seminar covered “Sensory Analysis” at Rohrbach’s.
  • Beer Brunch – Details are forthcoming! Stay tuned for more information.

It’s been really fun to collaborate with brewers and entrepreneurs. We’re going to continue that trend this year, and just keep growing and defining our membership more and more.

Any advice for Rochesterians who want to start something new in our community?

Just go for it! Don’t overthink it. And stick with it – that can be the hardest part.

Carolyn Stiles works in advertising at Partners & Napier by day and runs Rochester Beer Gals by night. Check out more of Carolyn's perspective on our Instagram