When you picture a homebrewer in your head, you probably aren’t thinking of a 70-year-old woman — but Nancy Noll has never been about coloring inside the lines.
“What was our gravity on that?” I hear 70-year-old Nancy yell down to our brewer, Patio, as I walk into our pub brewery. If I didn’t know any better, I would think Nancy had been part of the Three Creeks Brewing team for years. Recently, Nancy’s beer was selected as the best in show at the Sisters Home Brew Fest in Oregon, earning her a chance to brew her recipe that she has been working on for more than a year.
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Nancy Noll was born in Ohio. She decided to uproot her life and move to the West Coast, where she continued to pursue her family business in finance, but in San Francisco, where it was all peace, love and freedom. She ventured up to Northern California, where she lived for 40 years, but was then drawn to Central Oregon for her love of snowboarding and skiing. During her time between Nor Cal and Sun River, Nancy discovered the art of beer brewing, and just so happened to be innately good at it.
After spending the morning watching Nancy and Patio brew, I got to sit down with Nancy and ask her a few questions about her life and the beer that is getting acclaim across Northern California and Central Oregon.
Q: Tell me about yourself
A: I grew up all over the East Coast. After leaving art school, I worked as a photographer, and eventually got involved in our family investment business. When I was 26, I bought a piece of raw land in Humboldt County, California. I paid less for that acreage than what a new car costs today!
Q: What drew you to San Francisco and how did you end up in Humboldt?
A: I’m gay and if you were gay at that point in time, you needed to be on the West Coast. I had a friend living out in San Francisco and she said, “Come out, it’s great and fun and you can be free to be whoever you are!”
I wanted a better life. I eventually packed up my life and became a hippie in the early 70’s in San Francisco. It was great. At some point, I wanted to get out of the city. In 1972 my sister tragically passed and we had always wanted to buy land together. I pursued that dream and ended up finding property in Humboldt County.
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Q: What did you do in Humboldt?
A: I lived there for almost 40 years, homesteading and working in my family’s business. I moved off of my property in 2008. At that time, my mother, who lived in Hawaii was aging and I wanted to spend more time with her. The property was a lot of responsibility and it felt like the right time to move on, so I ended up selling the property and moving to Arcata. During the time I was living in Humboldt. I started spending the winters in Sun River, Oregon.
Q: What made you choose Sun River?
A: I wanted to come up in the winters to ski and snowboard. I rented a house there and fell in love with the area. In 1990, I ended up buying a lot and building a house. I was the only house on the block at the time.
Q: How have you seen Central Oregon change since then?
A: It’s grown, but good things have come out of that. A lot of people that have come from other places have contributed to the culture here. There may be more traffic, but there’s also more music, art and breweries flourishing. The people here are very warm and friendly.
Q: You mentioned that non-profits are a big part of your life, which actually got you into brewing
A: One of the better things that I’ve done in my whole life, was when I co-founded an organization called Humboldt Community Breast Health Project in Arcata. We started out with a desk and a file cabinet.
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Q: So how did you go from starting non-profits to brewing?
A: I used to be a big wine drinker. It started to give me a headache – too many friends and topped off glasses. With beer it’s easier to track how much I’m drinking!
I used to carpool with a guy up to the mountain who was a beer drinker and he kept trying to get me to drink beer. Finally one day I said yes and that kind of got me started. I got interested in beer and drinking beer. This was in 2012. I think around 2013, I went to the Humboldt Home Brew Fest. It was a charity for Engineers Without Borders.
Q: Wait, so you started drinking beer in 2012 and by 2013, you were already brewing?
A: Yes, I’m an extremist, whatever I do, I do.
Nasty Woman IPA Release
Three Creeks Brewing releases Nancy’s Nasty Woman IPA this weekend. You can find it on tap at the pub starting Saturday, August 19.
Editor’s Note: This article was contributed by Ashley Woody. It was originally published on Three Creeks Brewing’s website.
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