Wynkoop Brewing hires Bess Dougherty as its first female brewer in 24 years

Categories: Beer Man

Bess1.jpg
Jonathan Shikes
Wynkoop head brewer Andy Brown and Bess Dougherty on her first day.
The Wynkoop Brewing Company was founded in 1988, just three years after Bess Dougherty was born. And although there have been plenty of women who have worked in Denver's oldest brewpub, Dougherty will be the first to don the rubber boots of a full-time brewer. And you can bet those boots will be pink. "Hot pink for sure," Dougherty says.

Bess2.jpg
With a few notable exceptions, there are very few women working in the craft beer industry in Colorado -- or nationwide, for that matter -- and fewer still in the brewhouse, heaving fifty-pound bags of malt, filling kegs and shoveling out kettles.

"It's intimidating for a lady to try to go into this because it's a boys club, a super boys club," says Dougherty. "It's a very physical job, and that keeps a lot of women away, too. It's scary and it's hard and you really have to want it."

An experienced homebrewer and a graduate of the Siebel Institute of Technology's online brewing school, Dougherty broke into the boys club on June 5, becoming part of a four-person staff led by Andy Brown, the Wynkoop's head brewer since 2008.

"A lot of people are interested in working in a brewery," says Brown, who got his first brewing job in 2001 at Left Hand Brewing in Longmont. "I look for education and experience when I hire someone. But passion also goes a long way."

And Dougherty, who's often carrying around a book on beer styles or recipes, has plenty of passion. In fact, she got a chance to practice on the Wynkoop's system in February when she and a group of writers from Denver Off the Wagon brewed a beer there to commemorate the blog's one-year anniversary. The beer, called Wagon Ryed, was designed by Denver Off the Wagon founder P.J. Hoberman.

"We really bonded in the brewhouse that day," Brown says.

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Going to work on some Rail Yard Ale.
There are many women in Colorado and nationwide who are involved in the ownership or breweries, as well as in executive, quality control, research and sales and marketing jobs. But fewer than ten percent of the 1,600 existing craft breweries nationwide employ women in the brewhouse, according to the Boulder-based Brewers Association.

One notable example locally is Ashleigh Carter, who has been a brewer at Aurora's Dry Dock Brewing for a little more than a year.

To help out, the Portland, Oregon-based Pink Boots Society exists to encourage women to become brewers or get into the brewing industry, to homebrew and to enjoy beer. For female brewers, they also sell various shades of pink rubber brewer's boots.

Dougherty is a member, and her boots are on order.


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Location Info

Wynkoop Brewing Company

1634 18th St., Denver, CO

Category: Music


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10 comments
joycepace1
joycepace1

That's nice. However two women joined the teamsters in 1974 and went to work as brewers at Pabst Brewing Company in Los Angeles,Ca. One was Joyce Misak Weisner and the other was Connie Portillo.  A Maria Ruiz was hired one week before as an apprentice.  Joyce and Connie started like any of the guys, in the keg dock.  Connie stayed for three months and Joyce worked 6 years doing all the work as the men.  She stayed until Pabst closed up shop and moved its operation back east. No pink boots.

Mdsteeel
Mdsteeel

This is exciting - Love to see women go into a man's world and suceed.  Congratulations on a bold move and kudos to the Wynkoop for opening the path.  This is an article about brewing so let's focus on that - all your negativity needs to be redirected on change. 

180Grains
180Grains

"'who give a shit about the food....'" People who think that a brewpub needs to be a little more than just a one trick pony of late 80s cutting edginess.

Tom Dargen
Tom Dargen

Haley Shine brews in Long Beach and oversees several other West Coast breweries, Liz Laughlin runs the Rock Bottom in College Park, Indiana, and Teresa Sentell cranks out production in Chattanooga.  They are all Rock Star Brewers,

Tom Dargen
Tom Dargen

Congratulations to Bess and the Wynkoop, which continues to make dramatic improvements to their brewery and the beers it produces.  Although, I must say that when I started working as a brewer there myself back in 1989, I was sharing the production responsibilities with Lisa Johnson, who was an excellent hard working brewer before she went on to teach.  I now work for CraftWorks where we have two spectacular brewers in our Rock Bottom breweries who happen to be female, and both won gold medals at the World Beer Cup last month. 

180Grains
180Grains

So, let's get this straight: You ridicule posters who call you names, label them trolls, but have no problem browbeating so called "nimrods" for their legitimate opinion about the lack of quality food in a restaurant? Is that your position?  Maybe you should spend less time locked in your office bathroom, junior.

Chris Washenberger
Chris Washenberger

Oh man! You told me! Holy shit! Shikes, help me out here, I can't take it. The Spleen's powers of troll-y douchery are too strong. Hey Bess, I know it is your first week brewing and all but head into the kitchen and change the menu tomorrow, my feelings are hurt. I tend to agree with you about the whole house making a good experience. Just pointing out that the nimrod's comment was stupid in relation to the article. Then again, it is the internet so I can say that the sky is blue and someone can call me a butt-hurt asshole as a response. Oh well, I guess I have just fed the trolls... So much for rule 14.

eyeroll
eyeroll

I'm glad to see this, but wish the brewing industry was such that this wasn't particularly newsworthy.  And while Bess is absolutely entitled to wear whatever color boots she wants, the writer's emphasis on those pink boots made me cringe.  Maybe next time he could try not to infantilize his female subjects quite so much. 

Christopher Cina
Christopher Cina

 I do, that's why I'm here.  Looking forward to working with Bess.

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