A Salute to Carol Stoudt - Craft Beer Pioneer
Submitted by Jack Finley
After more than three decades in the beer industry, Carol Stoudt plans to retire in the
spring and cease brewing operations at her namesake brewery in Adamstown,
Pennsylvania. Stoudt said retirement had been on her mind for about two years. She
added that her adult children had encouraged her to hang up her brewer’s boots. After
spending the Christmas holiday with her children, Stoudt said she decided to forgo plans
to begin canning the brewery’s beer and call it a caree "I got together with a few people
from my team and just pointed to the calendar and said, ‘This is it,’” she explained. “It’s a
very, very difficult decision.”
“When you look at pioneers in brewing and especially in Pennsylvania, you have to look
at Carol Stoudt and Ed Stoudt’s concept of having a brewery on premises,” said Bill
Moore, an early employee who now works at Lancaster Brewing Co.
A lifelong resident of Adamstown, Carol Stoudt was a kindergarten teacher —
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman was one of her students — at Reinholds
Elementary School until 1975 when she married her husband, who she met at his
After growing up in a teetotaling family, Stoudt became enamored with beer during her
honeymoon in Germany with her beer-loving husband, Ed. It was a pilsner at Augustiner-
Bräu, specifically, that sparked her imagination. "It took seven minutes to pour, and I
thought, ‘Wow this beer has a nice, creamy foam head on it.’ I loved the elongated glass,”
she recalled. “It really had so much flavor compared to what I thought of American mass-
The German influence is reflected in one of Stoudt’s proudest moments: winning four
medals at the 1992 Great American Beer Festival. Stoudts won gold medals in the
Märzen/Oktoberfest and the Helles/Dortmunder categories, as well as silver medals in the
Helles/Dortmunder and Bock categories. There wasn’t a straight line from the beer
gardens of Munich to GABF, however. After their honeymoon in Germany, Carol and Ed
settled in Adamstown.
Stoudt founded Stoudts Brewing Company in 1987 on the grounds of her family’s
restaurant, Stoudts Black Angus Restaurant and Pub. That year, there were 150
breweries in the United States. In the 33 years since, that number has ballooned to
nearly 8,000 breweries, creating an increasingly competitive industry and added
headwinds for legacy breweries. "It’s just a very crowded environment right now,” Stoudt
Karl Strauss, a German beermaker who spent 44 years with the Pabst Brewing Co., was
an early consultant at the new brewery, she said, adding he helped instill in Stoudt the
importance of consistency and quality. “The beer was recognized by judges all over the
world and it got awards,” she said. “People wrote about it, then restaurants that cared
about good beer wanted to put it on draft.”
Offered initially in champagne bottles, Stoudts was helped by some early publicity that
included glowing write-ups in the Philadelphia Inquirer and USA Today. Stoudt embraced
the notoriety of being the one of the first female brewmasters since Prohibition, becoming
a spokeswoman for the industry as she mentored employees, guided other craft brewers
and continued to educate customers at the Adamstown restaurant.
“The knowledge she has about beer is incredible,” says Ken Upton, of Reinholds, a
longtime restaurant customer who favors Stoudts German-style Pils.
Stoudt counts former Pabst brewmaster Karl Strauss and Greg Noonan, author and
brewmaster of the Vermont Pub and Brewery, as mentors. "I never went to brew school,
because I had 5 children,” she said. “My learning was by visiting a lot of brewers, by
Karl’s mentoring, Greg Noonan’s mentoring. And then I started brewing on my 15-barrel
Another career highlight for Stoudt was helping educate consumers. Beginning in 1988,
she hosted beer festivals at her husband’s restaurant and beer garden, where founders
and brewers of pioneering breweries poured samples and chatted with guests. “I had the
first micro-festival, and I invited the then every existing craft brewers."
In a time when it can seem that beers have to be brewed with baked goods, breakfast
cereals or other novelty ingredients to gain consumers’ attention, Stoudt maintains that
“glitter does not belong in beer.” “I don’t want to make craft cocktails; I don’t want to make
alcoholic seltzers,” she added. “It’s just of no interest, and a lot of brewery space is being
used for that just to keep the tanks full.
In 2018, Stoudts produced 2,400 barrels, according to the Brewers Associatio. In
announcing plans to cease brewing operations at the start of spring, the company
conceded that it was not “moving enough volume to justify the expense of keeping the
Everyone at BeerNexus sends the warmest best wishes for a most happy and
fulfilling retirement to a true pioneer and ambassador of craft beer ,Carol Stoudt.
beernexus.com - SPECIAL REPORT
Craft Pioneer Retires
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Based on an article by Chad Umble on Lancasteronline