The bar was cramped. People were shuffling about, trying to not spill their Bierstadt Helles in their specially marketed 0.5 L glass. If there was one person that claimed to be sober after a session at Great American Beer Fest, they definitely weren’t amongst the many brewers and other tradespeople crowded in. The chant started small with “Shawnee! Shawnee!” but soon resounded with a boisterous “SHAWNEE! SHAWNEE! SHAWNEE!”
It wasn’t long before she was standing on the bar amidst applause. Shawnee Adelson, the new Executive Director of the Colorado Brewers Guild, had truly arrived and did not fail to impress.
A humble person defined by work in other nonprofits like Project C.U.R.E and Denver Urban Gardens over the years, she joined the team at the Colorado Brewers Guild in 2015. Moving through the Guild starting as Membership Coordinator, most brewers could not cover everything she did with a single title. She was the person you could email with any question about literally anything: distribution, lobbying, events, belated requests for pint glasses, and things that one could obviously look up on the website. She created a connection with every brewer on a personal level. Watching her help connect and unify people in efforts was incredible since coordinating brewers and their teams is probably about as frustrating as trying to mash in with a fork. It takes someone especially passionate to make that work!
When the Guild’s Board went on the search for a new Executive Director, none of us knew what to expect or who would get the position. When we heard that it was Shawnee that had made it through rounds of interviews and challenges to be awarded the prestige of this particular job, we knew that there was no one that we would have wanted other than her. Honestly, an announcement of anyone else just seemed wrong. Over the 4 years prior, she had worked hard to make sure every brewer felt like they were home and had a voice. She strengthened a community still recovering in the wake of disruption and did not fail to impress those watching.
We are now moving through another significant change as we progress through the COVID-19 pandemic. Shawnee was a one-woman show through most of it, and with the support of the Board, the Guild has continued to thrive. She worked to advocate for brewers on the hill to not be shut down and have new options of distribution. Her efforts are why some breweries survived the pandemic, and that is no small feat. We didn’t know what Shawnee would accomplish when she was standing on that bar 1.5 years ago, but she deserved every ounce of support the brewers showed there. The community that she supported and encouraged definitely came out, and there is absolutely no doubt that when we all gather again that there will be more chanting of “SHAWNEE.” Hope she is really comfortable with her name by now!
So on today, Colorado Pint Day and National Beer Day, we should all raise a glass to you!