Beer’s magnetism attracts all races, all ages and all genders. One might say the diversity of craft beer in America represents the diversity of craft beer characters in the industry. One of the most passionate and character-driven demographics in the craft beer industry is women. Look no further than the Pink Boots Society, an organization created to empower women beer professionals, advance women brewing careers and make damn good beer along the way.
Headed by award-winning Portland, Ore., craft brewer Teri Fahrendorf, the Portland-based Pink Boots Society has been supporting women in brewing since 2008. Fahrendorf is an ideal role model and president for the group. She won her first double-gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 1991, blazing a career that has roamed from beer clerk and malt salesperson to brewer and educator.
“2013 is my 25th year as a beer professional,” Fahrendorf said. “I’ve had such an amazing and enjoyable career in beer that it is personally important to me to give back to the industry I love by mentoring younger women. A big part of that is my work starting and running Pink Boots Society. There is no gender-based glass ceiling in the beer industry, just an education glass ceiling. That’s why we focus on education and on teaching each other.”
The first Pink Boots Society meeting was held during the San Diego Craft Brewers Conference in April of 2008. At that time, the society was only 60 women brewers. Sixteen of those brewers and six women beer writers attended that first meeting. Membership has since grown to more than 800 female professionals worldwide, ranging from brewery owners and distributors to servers and beer journalists.
The society has two main tenants:
1. Support Pink Boots Society members to advance their beer careers through education.
2. Teach women beer professionals the judging skills necessary to become beer judges at the Great American Beer Festival and other competitions.
“We talk about a lot of non-brewing beer info too — like sensory analysis, beer line cleaning, building a small incubator and lab culturing and how to become a beer judge,” Fahrendorf said.
Try attending one of the organization’s meetings. They are beer-oriented think-tanks, and the results are often inspiring. A great article in the Denver Post last week reported on seven women beer professionals collaborating on a craft beer recipe to be served at Colorado Craft Beer Week (March 18-24). The seven women met last week and came up with a citrusy, session-focused Belgian pale ale (using tropical New Zealand hops). Quoted from the article:
“The meeting was one of those surreal experiences: seven girls, sipping beer, getting super technical and nerding out about brewing beer,” said Bess Dougherty, an assistant brewer at Wynkoop Brewing Co. “I’ve never had that much of a technical conversation with other female brewers before.”
Dougherty said that the idea of a collaboration beer between the female brewers was an idea that’s been kicked around for a while, especially in the Pink Boots Society.
It’s an outstanding organization and gets women talking, and we encourage any female professionals in the craft brewing industry to check out their website. We noticed recently that the Pink Boots Society is finally a 501(c) 3 USA tax-exempt charity. That means they can finally launch their long-anticipated scholarship program. We think that’s pretty much awesome.
Want to check out even more awesomeness? Attend the Pink Boots Society’s Craft Brewing Conference National Meeting (see the info below).
“This photo of 130 members who attended our 2012 Craft Brewers Conference really shows how far we’ve come in only four years from the 2008 meeting where 22 members attended,” Fahrendorf said. “Starting Pink Boots Society has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I know it will be worth it when I announce the recipient of our first educational scholarship at our national meeting during the 2013 Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, D.C., in March.”
Pink Books Society Craft Brewers Conference National Meeting
Thursday, March 28
11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Walter E. Washington Convention Center
801 Mount Vernon Place Northwest