When I started writing for CraftBeerAustin.com back in 2015, my first series of articles was about Women in Beer. I am happy to announce that thanks to the ladies of the Austin chapter of the Pink Boots Society, I am bringing back the Women in Beer series. This edition features Sandra Murphy, Head Brewer for Panther Island Brewing out of Fort Worth, Texas.
Describe your average week. What are you responsible for?
I’m responsible for everything that happens on the production side. Brewing, packaging, recipe development, training, lots and lots of cleaning, and occasionally dropping a meteorite into a beer glass so we have a great photo for a beer release.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Everything. I really love recipe development. When I design a beer I’m creating an experience. I think of the taste, smell, mouthfeel, even if it’s a sip by the campfire or enjoy by the pool.
What challenges have you faced in this or previous roles in the beer industry?
In DFW you can count the number of women who brew professionally on one hand. It’s lonely at times. We have our own challenges like finding safety equipment that fits us, or venting because sometimes comments are ugly.
Sometimes men find me intimidating so they try to prove how much they know like its a competition, or the opposite, question if I really know what I am doing and want me to prove my knowledge. And sometimes they ignore me but acknowledge the owner and my cellarman.
How long have you been working in the beer industry? What did you do before this role?
I joined the production team in November 2019, so about a year and a half. I worked behind the bar for a few months prior. Before that I was a student safety monitor, reviewing student school email for bullying, violence, abuse.
If someone asked you to describe the current state of today’s craft beer climate what would you say?
Changing. I think a spark has been lit and I hope we see a very different craft beer in the next 5 yrs. Craft has always been a family for me and we always work together to make us all better. I believe we will get there.
Is there anything else you want people to know about you, your company, and/or the industry as a whole?
Panther Island is my family. I love them for so many reasons. Really wonderful people to work for. As for the industry, there is a lot of bad news coming out right now but for every story of horrendous behavior there is a line of breweries, owners, and employees pissed off and determined to be a part of the solution.
Has Pink Boots played a role in your career? If so, how?
Unfortunately, my career really took off during covid so there hasn’t been a lot of involvement with Pink Boots. I’m looking forward to being more involved this year. I would love to one day join the leadership team.
What question(s) are you tired of answering/getting asked?
How do I do it? Same as the guys.
What beer are you currently enjoying the most?
I jump around three of our core beers, Allergeez our GABF gold medal, Cannonball our wee heavy and my first love, and IPFnA because sometimes you need a solid Imperial west coast IPA that’s 10%