L.A. life coach gets crafty with beer | Crain's Los Angeles

L.A. life coach gets crafty with beer

  •  Lilit at her mobile beer bar. | Photo Courtesy of Draft in Style.

    Lilit at her mobile beer bar. | Photo Courtesy of Draft in Style.

  • Draft in Style brought beer education to a downtown Los Angeles coworking space earlier this summer. | Photo Courtesy: DTLA Rendezvous Instagram

    Draft in Style brought beer education to a downtown Los Angeles coworking space earlier this summer. | Photo Courtesy: DTLA Rendezvous Instagram

Lilit Barsegyan is a life coach of Armenian descent. That means she believes in following ideas through, and she’s been to plenty of weddings without beer.
 
The long tables in the banquet halls traditionally used for Armenian events offer ubiquitous hard liquor and red wine - which don’t need to be refrigerated - but no craft brews.  There is no place to tap a good chilled beer, let alone pour with flair. To Barsegyan, that’s a travesty.

She found from casual conversation in her own life that few people know about beer, even though it’s a growing business sector. Nationwide, there are over 4000 breweries, according to Washington D.C.-based trade group the Beer Institute.

Last fall she had been cheering her life coaching clients on, with her own business ideas on hold. 

“I was so inspired by telling my clients ‘Find your passion! Find your passion!’ I thought, why not now? I’m telling other people to jump and I’m a hypocrite if I don’t do it myself,” Barsegyan said.
 
She decided there must be a way to share a stylish beer experience with the world, especially with the growth of trendy beer spots around Los Angeles.
 
With the growth so great, Barsegyan risked entering a saturated market.

The Los Angeles area now has 92 breweries according to data from the California Craft Brewers Association.

But Barsegyan found that the competition actually welcomed her and her company, Draft in Style. In January at the L.A. Beer and Food Festival, she found a friendly atmosphere. She learned she could find a real niche in the wedding market, and Googled “beer bride” to discover a bridal expo soon thereafter.

While there, some BevMo! wedding coordinators spotted her handmade bar in her booth at the expo and pushed her to school their clueless customers. “We just need someone like you to refer [customers] to because people come and get kegs from us and they have no idea what to do with it,” they told Barsegyan.

Barsegyan remembers they lamented that even at high-priced wedding receptions, the beer “literally looks like what you see at a frat party.”

By helping customers choose wisely, she stimulates business for not just BevMo! but the ever-proliferating craft breweries around town. Though some locations have tap rooms attached, giving them an opportunity to serve and educate, many just make the beer, and have no bridge between manufacturer and interested but uneducated customers.

Vic Chouchanian of the two-year-old San Fernando Brewing Company  teaches a craft brewing class at UCLA Extension. Barsegyan was his student this past spring.

“I think what Lilit is doing is great,” Chouchanian said in a recent phone interview. “She really breaks down [the barriers in] the way beer is seen, taking it from a casual drink to an elegant drink,” Chouchanian said.

Barsegyan’s beer bar is a mini event within an event, that allows her to educate foodies who otherwise think only of wine for chic mingling or meal pairings.
 
Barsegyan also has an advantage over Chouchanian and other cordial competition in the local brewing community: no rent. She didn’t specifically avoid going brick and mortar, but it happened that way. And because she’s just the connection between brewers and customers, she doesn’t need a liquor license, skipping one more expense and operational headache.
 
Primarily focused on events, she will pop up anywhere to get people started on beer appreciation. A downtown WeWork hosted a class in June, where she found students thirsty for even basic knowledge. “No one knows [the] difference between lager and ale,” Barsegyan said.
 
She also finds women at wedding receptions who are interested to learn about beer in advance of a girls’ night out at the local brewery. “It’s very intimidating for a lot of women,” Barsegyan said of the male-dominated tap rooms and gastropubs in Los Angeles.

She continues to grow her Draft in Style business with a survey on her website and by visiting breweries to check out offerings and leaving a card behind.

Barsegyan still works as a life coach, but sees Draft in Style as an inherited venture, of sorts. She just recently learned from a visiting aunt that her grandfather insisted on a keg of beer at an otherwise very traditional wedding. Barsegyan laughed, “I guess it’s in my genes or something.”

 

Editor's note: This article was changed on August 16, 2017 to correct an earlier version of this story that stated Barsegyan met BevMo!'s wedding coordinators at the L.A. Beer and Food Festival; she met them at a bridal expo. 

August 14, 2017 - 5:39pm