The newest batch of young guns in Colorado's brewing industry wear pink boots
It's not easy to get a boot in the door of the craft-brewing industry. It's even more difficult for women since breweries, with a few notable exceptions, are boys' clubs. But despite the stereotypes, there are plenty of ladies who love suds just as much as guys do, and they've made some serious strides -- as owners or managers or accountants -- in sales and marketing and quality control. Today the national Pink Boots Society, which advocates for women in the industry, has a couple hundred members.
The last frontier is the brewhouse floor. Over the past two years, however, a handful of women have pushed their way in, and there are now at least ten women in Colorado who brew beer as a significant part of their job descriptions. To find out what that's like, we profiled six of them. You can ready their stories on the next few pages.
- Golden City's Sarah Henderson may be the only female head brewer in Colorado
- Wynkoop Brewing hires Bess Dougherty as its first female brewer in 24 years
- The Pink Boots Society: Women with a passion for beer
Prost Brewing Facebook page Ashleigh Carter with Prost head brewer Bill Eye.
Westword: What is your brewing experience?
Ashleigh Carter: More than a year at Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora; the past four months at Prost.
What is your brewing education and regular education?
BA in Pure Mathematics. No formal brewery training, but mentored on the job by Bill Eye (formally of Dry Dock, now head brewer at Prost).
What do you like about brewing?
I would have to say it is the physicality of the job mixed with the need to always be constantly using your brain to problem-solve. I love the technical aspects of brewing. Specifically, I am brewing on a fifty-year-old copper brewhouse from Germany. I love being able to use techniques such as decoction on every beer, and brewing traditional lagers the way that it is done Germany.
Whats the most challenging/rewarding parts of being a woman in the brewhouse?
The most challenging part is probably when people come and visit your brewery or you are out at industry functions and they introduce themselves to all the dudes around you and literally just ignore me. Bill and I are the only brewers at Prost and we joke about it a lot because someone will come up and talk to Bill about our brewery and look at me like I'm his secretary (even Bill started to notice it). The most rewarding, though, is being able to pave the way for other females in the industry though talks, Pink Boots Society and just meeting as many people as I can. I love beer and brewing and being to share that passion is an awesome experience.
Favorite beer styles to drink and brew?
Not only because of where I work, I love making German beer, specifically lager. There's nothing like getting up in the morning and rolling into work, being the only one in the building a knocking out a double decocted Dunkel on an all copper seventy-hl, fifty-year-old brewhouse; doesn't get much cooler than that. With that being said, I obviously drink and love German beer. But to be honest, I like everything and am glad that brewers are making sours, Belgians, IPAs, barley wines and all different types of beer.
What is your ultimate goal in the industry?
My ultimate goal is to make perfect beer. Sure, I'd like to win a few medals, become a brewmaster, and influence the beer community with lager beer. But in the end it's about the beer; that's all that matters and I want the beer that I brew to be perfect.