Meet Taylor Corona, Oconee Brewing’s Renaissance Woman
Walk into Oconee Brewing’s tap room in Greensboro, Georgia, and you’ll find a former Air Force mechanic, yoga instructor, roller derby player, mom, and a graduate in anthropology — and that’s all in one person: Taylor Corona. Corona, an assistant brewer for this upstart independent brewery near Georgia’s beautiful Lake Oconee, is a bit of a Renaissance woman.
“I got interested in brewing after a conversation with my anthropology professor when I was a student at Clemson,” says Corona.
To understand Corona’s long and varied path to brewing, we need to back up and start with her stint in the U.S. Air Force. She joined right after high school.
“I was in the military for three years and was a mechanic on C130s in Japan,” says Corona.
Learning the intricacies of a C130 gave Corona skills that have translated into her new job as assistant brewer.
“There are a lot of skills that transfer from the military to being a brewer,” says Corona. “I always heard you had to work twice as hard as a guy and in the military that’s what I tried to do. It’s not necessarily the same in craft beer but there’s a lot of hard work you have to put in.”
After the military, Corona turned her thoughts to higher education. She enrolled at Clemson University with an eye towards an anthropology degree. It was a conversation with her anthropology professor that sparked her interested in brewing.
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“Brewing beer was women’s work, historically,” says Corona.
Women were responsible for tending the children and home, which included brewing beer. Beer was a staple of kitchens in pre-modern times because water was often unsafe to drink. The wife of Martin Luther, founder of the Lutheran Church, was a well-known brewer.
“It’s really a community as opposed to an industry.” Taylor Corona, Oconee Brewing
That single conversation about the anthropology of beer led Corona to an internship with Brewery 85 in Greenville, South Carolina. The rest, as they, is history.
Of course, there were stops along the way: to get her yoga teacher certification in California, spending a little time as a stay-at-home mom, and learning a new sport: roller derby.
“Never roller skated before and people said ‘You’ve never been to a roller skating birthday party when you were a kid?,’ but no I hadn’t,” says Corona. “It’s a lot like craft beer. It’s a family. It’s a family of 30 girls whether you like it or not.”
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Corona now calls Oconee Brewing her home base. It launched operations in May of 2017 and is housed in a 100-year old building. It used to be a bottling plant and a storage warehouse for a cotton plant.
In addition to its brewing operation and tap room, Oconee also has a 3,600 square foot event center. It has an 18-foot-high floor-to-ceiling glass wall so guests can enjoy the gorgeous views. But let’s be honest: people come for the beer.
“People most like our Kölsch, but I really like our Habanero Pale right now,” says Corona. “It’s not too hot but it has just the right amount of heat. It’s great for summer.”
Corona says her favorite beers are saisons or funky farmhouse ales, and that’s why she’s really excited about Oconee Brewing’s next project.
“We’re working with Blackbird Coffee in Milledgeville on a coffee saison.”
After a long and varied trip around the world with experiences in a variety of occupations, this Renaissance woman has found a home in Georgia’s beautiful lake country and in craft beer.
“It’s really a community as opposed to an industry.”