Women and beer: A brief history
Women and beer have a complicated history. Today, it’s natural to assume that beer brewing, packaging, and selling has been a male-dominated field since its inception, but did you know women were actually making beer in the very beginning, as early as the 18th century?
Until the industrialization of brewing beer, women participated in both the brewing and selling. But, gradually, this shifted. Women were typically restricted to only selling while men started making the product.
In Europe, both single and married women worked in the brewing trade, with married women often working in tandem with their husbands as business partners. This effectively doubled their business and therefore their profits. Today, several breweries are run by husband-and-wife teams, including Sycamore Brewing Company, Odd 13 Brewing, Denizens Brewing Company, Save the World Brewing, Arkose Brewery, Huss Brewing Company, Bone Up Brewing Company, Moustache Brewing, and Big Choice Brewing, among many others.
For women, the beer industry has changed immensely, and continues to do so.
NitroBrew recently had the pleasure of chatting with Emily Engdahl, the Executive Director of the Pink Boots Society, which aims to “assist, inspire, and encourage women beer industry professionals to advance their career through education.”
The Pink Boots Society is comprised of brewers, packagers, designers, servers, writers, and more. They also offer scholarship opportunities to women in the beer industry.
We wanted to chat with Emily about the mission, past, present, and future of the Society, and the world of women in beer in general.
Everyone has their “gateway” into falling in love with drinking craft beer. For Emily, it was Ninkasi Brewing’s Tricerahops Double IPA. With a history of drinking Coors Light, Henry’s Private Reserve, and Moose Drool, she was completely blown away by everything else out there. She particularly notes Southern Tier Creme Brulee Stout—“I couldn’t believe it was beer.”
From there, she immersed herself into several beer-forward environments, eventually leading up to her very own educational beer programs (#pdxbeergeeks and Oregon Beer Country) in Oregon—a bucket-list destination for any craft beer fan.
She shared that her “overabundance of excitement and adoration for the industry” is what led to her Executive Director position with Pink Boots. She met the owner, Teri Fahrendorf, an award-winning master brewer, and immediately saw that her own background could boost Pink Boots into something truly special.
She recalls, “Eventually my day job took a back seat as I volunteered more and more for Pink Boots and took on more responsibility. I was hired on as the first Executive Director for Pink Boots Society.” And the rest, they say, is history. She says her absolute favorite part about her job is putting faces to the names of women she emails with, hearing how Pink Boots has impacted their lives.
Curious where the Pink Boots Society got its name? So were we!
Emily explains, “As Teri traveled, she began compiling a contact list of the Brewsters she met and called it the Pink Boots Society after the pink brewing boots she received as a gift from her mother in law and wore while guest-brewing along her journey.” The first Brewster she met was Stone Brewing’s Laura Ulrich.
Now, Pink Boots is certainly much more than pink boots. It is “the singular education association for professional women in the beer industry.” A one-of-a-kind organization, they are “the encouraging voice behind the entire beer family,” says Emily.
When it comes to women in the beer, Emily hopes we’ll get to a point where we won’t even need to have this conversation.
“Hopefully we can get to the point where no one says anymore ‘so what’s it like to be a female brewer?’ and instead we start talking about the qualities of beer, and the power of beer family, and the changes that we can create. I hope that the ways in which we can interact with one another and across different industries and values with beer in common help to bridge some of the tears in our culture’s fabric.”
And she hopes to see that shift herself! She says, “Ultimately I would like the conversation to change from women in beer to helping in beer, or quality in beer, or exciting new ideas in beer.”
Emily dreams of a culture in favor of female-led businesses, those who work for the betterment of our country. And she says, “the pendulum is beginning to swing” and that women will “just continue to rise!”
But, it’s important to consider just how and when change is going to happen. Not overnight. “I’m not naïve to the slow rate of change.” She does hope that “we can all help each other to aim for the tipping point where women and men can work together towards the bigger picture, safely and respectfully, no matter what the industry.” Judging by the growing prominence of women in all aspects of the beer industry, we are certainly getting there.
Emily has seen changes herself—just since working with Pink Boots! “It has grown more inclusive!” she says. “We are making strides!”
For any women reading this who wants to dip her feet into the beer industry, Emily encourages, “Forge on ahead! Manifest it!”
She adds, “Don’t believe people if they tell you you can’t. Go around that. Try a different avenue. Do whatever you need to in order to learn what you need to in order to make your dreams work.”
She admires that the women of Pink Boots truly embrace the meaning of ‘paying it forward’—not just through their scholarship program, but through “meetings, their friendships, the resource building, and the collaboration that happens.”
While thinking about all of this industry business, it’s important to have fun, too. We asked Emily about what she loves to drink.
Being in Oregon, Emily is surrounded by some world-renowned beer, namely DeGarde, one of the few spontaneous-fermentation breweries. And it just happens to be Emily’s favorite style of the moment, too. Though she says she’s gone through many phases, and still loves “a nice soft stout” on nitro, she is digging wild fermentation at the moment.
She embraces being able to try any new beer she can—“it’s a whole new world these days!” And her other sparkling drink of choice? Seltzer. “I drink obscene amounts of sparkling water,” she admits.
As much as she enjoys DeGarde, Emily notes her deserted-island brewery of choice would be Urban Family, another sour-focused brewery. She particularly loves their Tropic Heart, a mango sour. “You could probably live off that a few days if you needed to…”
So, there you have it! The future for women in beer is bright, and coming at us pretty quickly. Thanks to organizations like The Pink Boots Society and women like Emily Engdahl, women are embracing their passions in life and just going for it.
Emily said it best: “We only have one shot to repay humanity forward, so make sure that whatever you do, it’s something you are passionate about.”
Author: Erica Weiman
We at NitroBrew have found some of the most hard working and creative folks in the food truck business. We consider them real entrepreneurs who have taken great risks to make their dream come true. Usually, it is a family business and together they make a big impact in the community. We are fortunate to play a small role in this phenomenon. NitroBrew helps food trucks provide unique offerings to customers.
According to a recent report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, revenue earned from food truck operations in the United States has more than tripled over the last three years. In 2014, total food truck revenue clocked in at $650 million. In 2017, the estimated revenue reached $2.3 billion.
Though food trucks still represent a small percentage of the national restaurant industry, which sees $799 billion in sales annually, these mobile food and drink purveyors have seen steady growth over the past decade. According to the recent report, by the end of 2016 there were nearly 4,000 trucks operating around the country, employing more than 13,500 people.
As this growth continues and as new food trucks and mobile carts continue sprouting up on city streets, it’s becoming increasingly important for existing operations to set themselves apart from their competitors. But food trucks often have limited resources meaning they must find unique ways to draw in customers without expelling ample resources. And what’s more, they have to do all of this in a small space.
“In the food truck industry, it’s important that you have something that makes people interested and want to follow you everywhere you go,” says Angela Vannett, co-owner of Pura Vida Grinds, a mobile Costa Rican coffee cart operating in Arizona. “There are lots of mobile coffee businesses these days so we try and stand out with our delicious imported coffee, high quality ingredients and a menu that offers the most incredible tasting nitro creations.” @puravidagrinds
One of the ways trucks like Pura Vida Grinds are adding new offerings for customers is through NitroBrew. We offer a system that lets users infuse nitrogen into any beverage at the point of service. In the past, nitrogen-infused drinks had to be made in advance and stored in pre-nitrogenated kegs and bottles that require special taps, but with NitroBrew users can make one serving at a time. NitroBrew can be used with beer, coffee, tea, root beer, fruit juices and more to make smooth and creamy drinks.
Pura Vida Grinds has been using NitroBrew at its mobile coffee cart since March of last year. The company says being able to offer nitro drinks to customers helps them stand out from their competitors.
“We wanted to use NitroBrew right away because we loved the taste of nitro and because we knew it would set us apart from those who didn’t have it,” Vannett says. “The use of nitro in cold brew, specialty drinks and teas is growing in popularity right now so it’s a great addition to our menu and what we are able to offer to our customers.”
With NitroBrew, Pura Vida Grinds can create the kinds of creamy and frothy beverages that usually require the use of milk or other dairy substitutes.
“The product is well built and easy to use. The drink creations are nearly endless and they offer a variety of products for everyone,” Vannett says. “It’s awesome since we have such a small trailer and would ordinarily not have enough room for a full inline system, but since they have the single serve kettle, we are able to pour delicious nitro drinks just like the bigger coffee spots.”
The compact nature of the NitroBrew system was a major draw for Pura Vida Grinds. It was also a main selling point for another Arizona-based coffee cart, Pour Jo Coffee.
“What I really like about NitroBrew is it takes up very little space,” says Pour Jo co-owner David Martinez. “Everything’s done at the time of serving so it gives you more flexibility to offer variations to your customers.” @PourJoCoffee
NitroBrew’s single serve systems are small enough to be used in the home, making them a perfect fit for food trucks and mobile carts. Our kits include a charging station and a 12 oz. kettle. A commercial kit option includes three kettles, ideal for use in the food industry. And all options come with and without compressors. For more information, contact us here.
Author: Rebecca Nuttall