During the month of March, Women’s History Month amplifies the voices of American women to honor the past, inform the present, and inspire the future. Their stories are passed down to deepen our understanding of women’s contributions to the world.
While the brewing industry is typically considered something of a “boy’s club” today, brewing was historically a women-run enterprise. Brewing began as a domestic chore, dating back almost four millennia. It then became a craft, followed by becoming known as a cottage industry and, eventually, big business. Brewing didn’t become male-dominated in America until the Industrial Revolution, when production transitioned from home brewing enterprises to commercial breweries.
Today, as small-batch brewing regains historic popularity (with 7,200 breweries currently in operation), women are reclaiming their rightful place in the craft, and stepping up as consumers. Women from the ages of 21-to-34 represent 15 percent of total craft beer consumption.
The Pink Boots Society (PBS), a women-in-brewing group founded by brewmaster Teri Fahrendorf in 2007, currently boasts 2,500 members in 30 countries.
PBS brings together women in the beer industry in the form of local chapters. The organization encourages members to advance their beer careers through education and celebrates women in the industry. PBS is made up of women who own breweries, sell, make, package, design, and/or write about beer.
Hillebrand Keg Pro, Andrea White, is a new member of PBS, and states: “There aren’t a lot of women in the beer industry, so being part of the Pink Boots Society is a great education and networking opportunity for any woman involved in beer.”
Another proud member of Pink Boots Society who’s doing big things for women in craft beer is Karen Killough, who with her husband, Kent, is the co-founder of Vista Brewing in Driftwood, Texas. Vista Brewing is a gorgeous destination brewery located just outside Austin at the entrance to the Central Texas Wine Trail. Pastureland-turned-brewery, Vista Brewing is just shy of its one-year anniversary and has already enjoyed great success – with plans to expand. When asked what it’s like to have a leadership role in a male-dominated industry, Karen said: “I definitely get a surprised reaction from people when they find out I co-own a brewery. Not necessarily a bad reaction, but surprised.” That’s part of the reason she and other women in the industry value being part of Pink Boots Society, where women in craft beer are celebrated as opposed to being tolerated.
Vista Brewing takes part in Pink Boots Collaboration Brew Day, which originated out of the collected desire of its members to participate in International Women’s Day on March 8. Chapters and members of Pink Boots Society get together with supporting breweries and individuals (like breweries’ graphic designers and servers), wear their pink boots, and brew their chosen beer style together. PBS splits proceeds from sales of this collaboration brew with participating chapters. The revenue is applied to educational scholarships and programming for members of Pink Boots Society. Lauri Spitz, co-owner of Moustache Brewing Co. and Hillebrand customer, took part this year by creating Empower IPA, a collaboration with Pink Boots Society and Long Island Girls Pint Out.
The Keg Pros would like to applaud all the ladies involved in Pink Boots Society and wish a happy Women’s History Month to all the amazing women who work in – and love – craft beer!