Golden City's Sarah Henderson may be the only female head brewer in Colorado

Categories: Beer Man

SarahHenderson.jpg
Golden City Facebook page
Sarah Henderson gets support from Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione at GABF.
When Sarah Henderson got the job as assistant brewer at Golden City Brewery eighteen months ago, there was more than a little fate involved.

"I had just posted my resume on ProBrewer.com," says Henderson, a Colorado School of Mines grad. "And literally, the day I called him looking for a job, the head brewer, Jeff Griffith, was getting ready to call me." Though Henderson hadn't brewed professionally before, she had passed a six-week online course at the American Brewers Guild and completed a six-week internship at Avery Brewing in Boulder.

Fate struck again in September. That's when Griffith, who had been at Golden City for eight years, took a job at the aptly named Fate Brewing in Boulder, which is set to open in December in the old Jose Muldoon's.

See also:
- Golden City's Jeff Griffith takes the head brewer's job at Fate Brewing in Boulder
- Wynkoop Brewing hires Bess Dougherty as its first female brewer in 24 years
- A dozen new breweries on tap for the Denver Metro area by spring 2013

And Henderson was the right woman to take over. She is now the only female head brewer in Colorado -- and one of only ten or so women who actually work in the trenches here, lifting grain bags, mashing in, getting messy, according to the directory of the Pink Boots Society, a national trade group for women in the brewing industry.

"I might also be the youngest," says Henderson, who is 25.

But she's hardly daunted. "I started homebrewing when I was in school. It was a hobby I picked up from an old relationship -- maybe the best thing I got from that relationship," she says with a laugh. "I decided I wanted to make it a career."

And her parents were fine with the idea of their daughter -- and her mechanical-engineering degree -- going to work in a brewery. "They supported me the whole way," she says. "They are big beer drinkers. My dad is always trying something new."

So are some local craft breweries, which have traditionally been almost 100 percent male-dominated. But in the past few years, more and more women have gone to work in beer houses: in sales, marketing, quality control, accounting and ownership.

The last frontier is the brewhouse itself; the Wynkoop, for example, just hired its first female full-time assistant brewer in 24 years. "It's hard for us to get our foot in the door because getting into brewing is all about who you know," Henderson says. "There are a lot of hurdles for women on the job...but once you're in, you're in. And it's amazing to see how many women make their living from brewing now."

Henderson is tinkering with a few of the recipes at Golden City, which has a ten-barrel brewing system and makes about 1,000 barrels per year. But over the next few months, she plans to develop and brew a few of her own recipes, including a holiday ale.

And she's looking to hire her own assistant brewer. Although she would love to hire another woman, she says, she needs someone with a little bit of experience.

Maybe fate will step in.


Follow Westword's Beer Man on Twitter at @ColoBeerMan and on Facebook at Colo BeerMan

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Golden City Brewery

12th and Cheyenne streets, Golden, CO

Category: General

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6 comments
derpy
derpy

Look at Funkwerks, TRVE, Dry Dock... that's only the ones I know have women brewers, there's probably more.

derpy
derpy

"Head" brewer is kind of a loose term these days.  There's several women brewing in Colorado, perhaps you should do a story on them.

maikohiga2
maikohiga2

 @mdpaige No need to be rude.  I don't know what your definition of "head" brewer is, but she currently is the only brewer, and that is "head" enough for me.

derpy
derpy

 @maikohiga2 Cool, I'm not being rude, I just think it's an odd distinction to make since there's lots of women brewing in Colorado, and I think that's the larger point that needs to be made.  Lots of head brewers don't actually brew.

derpy
derpy

 @maikohiga2 Look, you're reading a lot more into this than what I intended.  I've met Sarah, and she seems great.  She is the main brewer there, and she brews, and I'm happy for her. I'm not being rude, snarky, or anything of the like.  And of course, I'm not a writer, so I will not be writing an article on this.  

maikohiga2
maikohiga2

 @mdpaige You do sound snarky though.  The article does say she does brew.  I think its a great accomplishment and rather than you being snarky and wanting the article to be about something else why don't YOU write the article you want?  Since you know all about female brewers in Colorado and what they do (or not).

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