of a Beer Community
After 19 years as a Brewmaster, most of that at Steelhead Brewing Company, I quit to take an once-in-a-lifetime road trip, where I visited 71 breweries, and brewed at 38 of them. I called myself the Road Brewer and blogged my adventures at www.roadbrewer.com. During that trip, a community began to take shape: in the shape of a shiny pink rubber brewer's boot.
My goal was to visit my brewing peers and brew with them in their breweries. When planning the route, I connected the dots between breweries during the week, and between relatives on weekends. Since there were long stretches without dots, I asked the craft beer community to provide landing spots and email me if they wanted a visit. I continued to plug in the dots until I had breweries to visit and places to stay for the whole trip. My trip lasted 139 days (nearly 5 months) and 12,656 miles.
An interesting coincidence was that many of the breweries that invited me to visit employed young women brewers. When I arrived they set me to work alongside their female brewer, who I had not only never met before, I had never even heard of before. She had also not heard of me previously. In several cases we struck up an easy bond and quick friendship. It became clear to me that these young women had felt alone as the only woman brewer in their beer world. It was also clear that my story of being a Brewmaster for 19 years offered them a vision of what their own careers could aspire to. Suddenly at 47, I felt the call to give back to the beer industry that I loved so much, by mentoring these women and others like them.
At the first brewery where this happened the young woman brewer asked, "Teri, you tell me there are others like us how many of us are there?" I promised I would try to find out as I made my trek across country. A few months into the journey later, another young woman brewer posed the same question. I was proud to provide an answer, "I've found 60 women brewers so far." Then she asked, "Who are they? I want to network with them; I want to talk to them." So I promised I would post the list on my website so she could have it.
While on this trip I met many brewers with greater experience than I had, and I met many who had less and needed my expertise. Several times I said, "Gee, I wish I could give you a copy of an article I wrote for New Brewer back in 1993" or some such, but I didn't have access to my published articles. So, with some wrangling to get my articles from home in Oregon, I was able to build this website while on the road. It contained my previously published articles, as well as articles I wrote from the road covering topics that I knew by heart, but had never written down.
This educational website provided the forum to publish my list of women brewers, and as I created the HTML list of names for the website I thought to myself, "Calling it "List of Women Brewers" is so boring. A sound byte (like Road Brewer) would be snazzier." So I thought of the pink boots I had been wearing everyday of the trip, and I thought of the Red Hat Society; the organization of jolly old ladies who go out to party in red hats, and I coined my list the "Pink Boots Society."
The story continues from there. Five years later we are an international nonprofit association of women beer professionals with a focus on education, with 850+ members worldwide. I am helped by many volunteers. We raise money for the scholarship program we intend to create to help women beer professionals advance their careers through education. We host two national meetings in the USA each year, one with an educational seminar program. And there are regional meetings in the US, UK, Argentina, Australia and soon in Germany and France. We are no longer just brewers, but you must be a woman beer professional and earn income from beer to join us.
Thank you for reading the Pink Boots Society story!
With inspiration and love for PBS members Laura Ulrich, Whitney Thompson, Jamie Martin, Dee Dee Germain, Gretchen Schmidhausler, Eileen Martin, Carol Stoudt, Judi Keene, Beth Marcus, Christine Parkes, Laurie Jeffries, Stacey Roth, Renee Greff, Deb Carey, Teri Osterfeld, Katie Frye, and any other women beer professionals I met on my trip.