Combine a passion for creating fun new beer flavors and a big kid at heart, and you get our #NJMOMpreneur of the week, Kathy Abate, the creator of Devil’s Creek Brewery in Collingswood, New Jersey. As a microbrewery owner, Kathy loves creating beers she knows all women will love, including the brewery’s Caramel Apple Brown Ale and Birthday Cake Cream Ale (Editor’s note: sounds amazing to us!). We’re inspired by her fierce, go-get-em attitude, her ability to take big risks, and her endless support of animals. NJMOM sat down with Kathy to learn about her inspiration for the brewery business, the seasonal flavors that locals drool over, and her favorite New Jersey spots to visit with her daughter including Cape May and Freedom Park in Medford.
Owner of Devil’s Creek Brewery & NJMOMpreneur: Kathy Abate
NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Kathy: Devil’s Creek Brewery is a microbrewery in Collingswood, NJ. As a microbrewery owner, I have the opportunity to not only create new beer recipes that are unique to the area, but are also beers that I think that women specifically would enjoy. I know what flavors and styles I enjoy, so I try to incorporate those into my beers, and I’m pretty sure that my choices are spot on, given the success of one of our most popular beers “Caramel Apple Brown Ale.”
Be loud. Make your presence felt. Everyone thinks that the man is always the boss, but you can be too.” – Kathy Abate, owner of Devil’s Creek Brewery
NJMOM: What inspired you to get into your line of work?
Kathy: My husband Anthony has been making his own beer for years and years, and when we met, he introduced me to the art of home brewing.
NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Kathy: I love getting behind the bar and pouring beer for customers, and seeing their faces when they taste one of our beers for the first time. I especially love the “wows.”
NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Kathy: My main contribution when we were first starting was graphic design. I designed everything from our logo to the interior of our brewery.
NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
Kathy: I’m thrilled at how much people enjoy my beers. A lot of thought goes into a new beer, from recipe creation to execution to marketing. And I think we’ve got the whole package down.
NJMOM: Do you create seasonal flavors?
Kathy: We’re known for our seasonal beers. We like to experiment and have fun, and we try to use local ingredients when possible. We have some great, light beers when the weather gets warmer, including raspberry wheat, apricot saison, and honey nut brown. A really fun, tasty beer is our Birthday Cake Cream Ale, which we brewed for our first anniversary.
NJMOM: Do you offer any regular events at the brewery?
Kathy: We don’t host events, but we’re very big on private parties. Families and couples love to rent our brewery because it has such a warm, homey feel. We’ve hosted First Communion parties, 50th surprise birthday parties, and we even hosted a proposal! The difference between other venues and ours is that we go the extra mile to make sure the party is extra special. For the proposal, we created special beers just for them and put them on our tap board, among other things. And the chalkboard wall in our bathroom is a really fun place for people to write well wishes and then take photos to capture them.
NJMOM: Tell me a little more about the interior of the brewery that you designed and how you concepted it all.
Kathy: We wanted the brewery to be really welcoming, so we knew we had to include as much wood as possible, especially since the space we started with was a vanilla box. Of course, a reclaimed wood wall gives a lot of impact, and we were able to get a really cool steel “Jersey Devil” handcrafted in Hershey, Pennsylvania, to hang on it. The 19-foot-wooden bar is wood from a church in Pennsylvania from the 1800s that was demolished. The accents all over the tasting room are from antique stores in Marlton and Medford, New Jersey. Finally, the hanging lights are wooden chandeliers made by a friend of ours and the huge wooden beam light hanging over the bar was actually an inspiration from Pinterest, that we made ourselves.
NJMOM: What is something few people know about you?
Kathy: The more you get to know me, the more you realize that I’m just a kid at heart. When I’m not at the brewery, I’m either playing barbies with my daughter, or just being silly and having fun.
NJMOM: What can we expect from you next year – personally and professionally?
Kathy: There’s a lot going on at Devil’s Creek Brewery. We’re looking to move our business to a town more tolerant of microbreweries, for one thing. And I’m working on a book about breweries. It’s about how to start a brewery, but it’s really a lighthearted look at the process, with helpful advice sprinkled in. And of course, it has a woman’s slant. I don’t have a timeline in mind; it’s really when I find the time to work on it.
NJMOM: What charitable cause are you most passionate about?
Kathy: I support anything to do with animals, and we’ve been involved in several fundraisers that raised money to help shelter dogs.
NJMOM: Who is your role model? Why?
Kathy: My role model is Lori Greiner, probably best known from TV’s Shark Tank. She is such a successful businesswoman in her own right and she keeps reinventing herself.
NJMOM: What is the best piece of advice your mom (or parent/role model) ever gave to you?
Kathy: My mom has always had a great work ethic and because of her, I operate the same way. Just get the job done.
NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by? Why is this quote so important to you?
Fate loves the fearless.”
Kathy: I love that quote because it forces me to take chances I wouldn’t otherwise take.
NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
Kathy: My favorite place in New Jersey right now is Cape May in the summertime. I’m infatuated with the Victorian houses and the architecture. That, combined with being able to put my toes in the sand and just relax, is the best thing in the world.
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
Kathy: My daughter Auri is so happy that it’s contagious. She’s fun and funny and just such a mature little human.
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Kathy: My daughter’s daycare is outstanding. She gets the best care and attention at Just Children in Medford, so that eases my mind when she’s not with me. When she’s not in school and I’m not working, we like going to local parks like Freedom Park in Medford. They have a really big playground and a dog park for our two puppies, Bru and Mal. And although it’s early to say, I might have just found the coolest personal trainer in the area (only the scale will tell) at Medford Cure.
NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Kathy: I live in Medford, New Jersey. I just love that there are so many trees! I wish the downtown area was more developed, but at least it has two breweries on Main Street.
NJMOM: What advice might you have for a fellow NJMOMpreneur who is just starting out?
Kathy: My best advice to another New Jersey mom is to reach out to other local businesses run by women. We can offer a wealth of information that you might otherwise have to find out the hard way.
NJMOM: Anything else you’d like to tell moms in New Jersey?
Kathy: Be loud. Make your presence felt. Everyone thinks that the man is always the boss, but you can be too.