This is a sponsored post in partnership with Tavour
Five years from now, “the bras-to-beards ratio on the brew deck will look more like 50/50.”
This is the vision that Sara Nelson — co-founder of Seattle’s esteemed Fremont Brewing — has for women in the craft beer industry.
No doubt, it’s likely a world away from where women could see themselves in 1987, when the U.S. government first designated March as Women’s History Month. Every year since then, we’ve dedicated the 31 days of March to observing, honoring, and celebrating all of the great contributions that women have made to our nation’s society, culture, and history.
In traditionally male-dominated industries like craft brewing, Women’s History Month also offers a chance to explore the strides that women are making.
This March, premium craft beer delivery app, Tavour, is taking the time to spotlight women who are helping make the industry great. In 2020 alone, 27 breweries with women owners and/or head brewers joined the 600+ independent craft breweries working with Tavour!
To get perspective, Tavour spoke with some of the nation’s women in beer, whose breweries make frequent appearances on the app.
Natalie Roberts opened 903 Brewers in Sherman, Texas with her husband Jeremy, in 2013. They’re known throughout the Lone Star state and beyond for their pastry-packed Stouts and “slushy” style Sours — sweet-tart beers incredibly thick from additions of real fruit.
“I’m very analytical and he’s very social,” Roberts says of her and Jeremy’s dynamic. “He reaches out and makes contacts and I take it from there, making calculated decisions and keeping things real organized.” Even still, outside parties don’t always see that.
“I often get called ‘the owner’s wife’ and he never gets called ‘the owner’s husband.’ People just naturally assume that I’m part of the [company] just to hang out at the brewery.”
Is this endemic to the industry? Roberts says no. She’s doing what she loves, and she’s deeply grateful for the support she receives from the craft beer community.
“I think people have just been brought up that the men are gonna work, and the women are not; that men are gonna drink beer, and women are not; that men are gonna make business decisions, and women are not.”
In Colorado, Kristin Scott of Odd13 Brewing provides another look at what it means to be a female leader in the industry.
Like Roberts, her gender never kept Scott from pursuing a career in craft beer. “I came from an industry that was male-dominated as well (oil and gas), so working alongside mostly men was not intimidating to me… I just see it as people.”
“As an owner,” Scott continues, “we’ve put diversity and inclusion at the top of our priority list, as I feel every brewery should. We really like to give the opportunities to females where it best fits. It is just tough because of the lack of female applicants.”
Herein, Scott highlights an underlying issue as to why women are often underrepresented in craft beer today — an industry-wide 2018 survey from the Brewers Association showed that women made up only 22.6% of all brewery owners. And, on the production side, just 7.5% of brewers were female.
During the Brewers Association’s Craft Women in Collaboration Seminar last year, co-owner and co-founder of San Antonio’s Community Cultures Yeast Lab, Mara Young, noted, “because these numbers are still so true, that often leads to men making the beers, and those men getting the credit and the exposure.”
Kristin Scott sees a way to remedy this. “We need to get more women into the educational side and get them technical/brewing skills,” she says. Craft brewing is not easy, and experience and knowledge matter. A lot.
Meanwhile, Sara Nelson over at Fremont Brewing addresses this problem by posing the question, “How do people who own breweries reach out to women who want to be involved in aspects of making/selling beer?”
“It’s about creating more opportunities and making those opportunities more visible.”
Nelson encourages prospective female brewery workers to become members of the Brewers Association. “This is the best place to fill in skills gaps, and to also meet other brewers who could be potential employers,” she says. For anyone with an interest in craft brewing, the Brewers Association is a practical way to get into the industry, to network, and to find helpful resources on everything from production, to sales, quality assurance, and more.
Another great place to start is the Pink Boots Society. The organization’s mission is to assist, inspire, and encourage women industry professionals to further their careers in craft beer through education. Both Nelson and Roberts are members of the Pink Boots Society, along with over 2,000 other women from around the world. With so many members, it’s no surprise that Pink Boots collaboration beers regularly appear on Tavour, as well!
Outside of joining organizations like the Brewers Association or the Pink Boots Society, Kristin Scott advises women to “talk to other people in the industry, even if there might not be easy access to women you know of in the industry. Understand the typical educational requirements of the area that interests you most, and look into different programs to get that education.”
As opportunities become more visible and accessible for women, Natalie Roberts offers one final piece of advice.
“I want women to know that you don’t have to sacrifice who you are to fit into the typical brewery stereotype. I feel like a lot of women feel they have to hide their femininity, and I think some of the natural traits that come with being a woman is a great benefit to this industry. We bring a lot of perspective to different things that can bring new ideas and help open a lot of new doors.”
This Women’s History Month is a great time to shed light onto the breweries creating more diversity and inclusion in the industry, and to support their female brewery workers. With the Tavour app, you can easily show your support for dozens of women-owned breweries and get their highly-rated brews delivered straight to your door!