Sarah Casorso played professional women’s hockey for the University of British Columbia and in Vienna before joining the Buffalo Beauts of the National Women’s Hockey League. While there, Ms. Casorso learned how to brew beer and was quickly promoted to the head brewer of Beamsville’s Bench Brewing – all before the age of 27.
How did you choose between following a career in hockey or beer?
It was honestly the hardest decision of my life. It was super, super emotional. I bounced back and forth with it for months and months. I really identified with hockey and the sport. From the time I was a little girl, I was a hockey player and then suddenly I’m a brewer. And I was like, “Can I be both?” But when I made the decision [to be a full-time brewer], when I finally bit the bullet, I knew it was the right thing. And I was really happy that I did it. I haven’t played hockey since. I would like to get back into it but it was almost a grieving period that went on with that. I want to bring some sort of facet of it back into my life, whether that be coaching or playing. It’s something I’ve been thinking about quite a lot lately.
What do you miss most about playing hockey?
Probably the most heartwarming and best part about playing at that level is that you get to see girls after the game waiting for you outside your dressing room just to get your autograph. They have pictures of you and they might have made posters and maybe they have your jersey and they want you to autograph it. It makes it all worth it. You think of the hard practice days and the travel, the late nights. Sometimes you catch yourself getting down, but then you see the spark in these girls’ eyes and it makes you want to do forever. You realize you’re helping to pave somebody else’s path in life. It’s pretty cool.
How would your teammates have described you as a hockey player?
Competitive, hands down. That was always the word they used to describe me. Competitive and goofy. I like to have fun as well.
In your last game, you got into a bit of a scuffle. Were you a teammate that was known for defending herself?
I definitely have a physical component to my game, but I tried to play clean and not to get into any trouble. But there were definitely times when things happened and you play teams and players that like to rough it up a little bit more. I always stuck up for my teammates and I stuck up for myself when I needed to. I wouldn't hold back in scenarios where I felt like I was doing the right thing or, again, sticking up for myself or other people.
Do you get into scuffles in your job as a brewer?
In terms of scuffles, I’d say it’s with actual equipment more than anything. Nothing goes perfect with brewing. There’s something that comes up every day that doesn’t go according to plan and you might be there for two extra hours longer. It’s painful. You hate when something goes sideways. It’s stressful. But when you fix it or when you get it done, it feels so good. It’s kind of like when the coach makes you skate lines and you hate your life while you’re doing it. You’re so tired. But at the end, you’re like “wow, I feel good” and maybe you skate a bit faster next practice because of it. So, there’s definitely elements to this job where maybe a pump breaks down or something clogs up and you have 10 minutes to figure it out, otherwise it affects the rest of the crew. It can get high stress. But you look back at it and you might laugh. It’s all part of the process.
In that sense it’s like when you go into a game, you don't know what’s going to happen.
Exactly. You’ve practised and you’ve got the game plan in your head. But it’s not going to go that way. You figure it out as you go and you transition. You collaborate and you work it out to get the job done. I think that’s a definite a crossover from sport to this type of work. We have a game plan and we know what we need to get done for the day. Let’s figure out a way to get that beer in the tank the way we want it.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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