Brewed by Women—Pink Boots Society
As local breweries have taken off across the country, so too have the stereotypes about the people behind the beverage. For one, many assume that beer makers are men.
Hollie Stephenson, head brewer at Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Halethorpe, has seen how this plays out. “A guy could walk in with a beard and beer-belly and that was a good enough resume to get him through the door,” she says.
Not only are there women in the beer industry, but there are also women in the industry who want to connect and network.
More than a decade ago, they formed the Pink Boots Society, an organization that connects more than 2,500 members and more than 1,400 breweries worldwide.
“We are a group of women professionals who work in every aspect of the brewing industry,” says Laurel Ulrich, Pink Boots president and a brewer at Stone Brewing in California. “We are owners, brewers, fermenters, packagers, designers, servers, writers, and cover virtually all aspects of the beer business.
Our goal is to support one another by advancing our careers through educational opportunities.”
Pink Boots’ biggest event is Collaboration Brew Day, a fundraiser held every year to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8. For the past two years, the group has partnered with Yakima Chief Hops for the event. It’s an occasion that Stephenson says she looks forward to.
Locally, individual chapters sponsor “brew days, sensory training, draft system training, marketing panels, just to name a few,” Ulrich says.
Pink Boots also provides a community for women brewers, says Michelle McHugh, a brewer at Union Craft Brewing in Hampden. “Whether it be through interaction within individual chapters, private conversation amongst members, or posting on the closed, national member Facebook group, Pink Boots has built a space in which women can feel comfortable coming forward with anything relating to any aspect of the brewing industry,” she says.
While the networking opportunities get rave reviews, the name doesn’t always. “In all honesty, I personally struggle with the name,” McHugh says. “Mind you, I am a woman and yes, I love a good shade of pink. However, I think, to some, it encourages playing into gender stereotypes, when in fact, we are striving to be treated as equals.”
Sounds like an issue to debate over, what else, a beer.