In ancient Europe, brewing was almost exclusively a woman’s role. The medieval times, however, brought about the frequency of brewing in monasteries to accommodate travelers, and as time passed, the number of female brewers dwindled, brewing in the home became rare, and commercial taverns became a predominantly male domain. Today, while women have since shed the label of “alewives,” they are continuing to infiltrate what has since become an XY-dominated scene by owning and running breweries. Women leading craft beer businesses certainly isn’t unusual. A 2014 Stanford survey of 2,500 breweries found that 21 percent had at least one woman in a leading role. You likely know the names of the women in beer pioneers, such as New Belgium’s Kim Jordan, Odell’s Wynne Odell, Jennifer Glanville from Boston Beer, Lost Abbey’s Gwen Conoley, Brewmaster Veronica Vega at Deschutes and Portland’s first female head brewer Whitney Burnside of 10 Barrel Brewing. Today, Peaks and Pints celebrates International Women’s Day with Craft Beer Crosscut 3.8.17: A Flight of Female Brewers.
6.2% ABV, 36 IBU
When Orval head brewer Jean-Marie Rock retired in 2013, it was his long-term assistant brewer Anne-Françoise Pypaert who replaced him. By doing so, Anne-Françoise became the first female head brewer at a Trappist Abbey. When she started at Orval in 1992 she was one of the first female brewers in Belgium and encountered an industry almost exclusively dominated by men. Joining Orval straight out of university, she has never worked a day anywhere else. The Orval’s brewery produces only one beer to sell, a beer with a high fermentation that continues in the bottle. It’s brewed exclusively from spring water, barley malt, hop cones, candy sugar, and yeast. The tantalizing aroma sings to the nose with candy-sweet overtones and slightly tart notes. Its flavor is pure refreshment with bready, honey-lemon sweetness up front that invigorates the palate and clears the way for the beer’s slightly sour finish.
9.5% ABV, 25 IBU
Kim Jordan was New Belgium‘s first bottler, sales rep, distributor, marketer and financial planner, earning her current title as CEO and making New Belgium what it is today. What started as a door-to-door hustle has clearly paid off, as New Belgium has since been cranking out notable beer and even more notable green awareness practices: the company became the first wind-powered brewery in the United States in 1998 and continues to find ways to be more environmentally efficient. Anne-Francoise Pypaert helped Brewmaster Peter Bouckaert craft the recipe for this special batch. The result: a dark, strong, dry beer brewed with spruce and grains of paradise aged on American Oak spirals.
5.3% ABV, 35 IBU
Oskar Blues employs many a female brewer at its brewery in Colorado. Brewer Diana Locatelli, brewers’ assistant Lauren Laquerre and cellar workers Kristin Hubbard and Sara Laurienti all started out as homebrewers who have now translated their passion for great craft beer into jobs in the industry. Laurienti has been with the Oskar Blues family since she was 16 years old, Locatelli and Hubbard are both coming up on their two-year anniversary milestones with the company, and Laquerre recently joined Longmont production. Their Mama’s Little Yella Pils is a refreshing and lightly-hopped Czech-style pilsner. It’s made with German malts and Saaz hops for a not-too-bitter, authentic Czech flavor.
11% ABV, 35 IBU
While growing numbers of women are entering the job force in the craft beer industry, few do the actual brewing. Not the case at Fish Brewing Company, home of Fish Tale Ales brewer Stacey O’Connor and filtration queen Jada Peterz clean heat exchangers, add hops to the whirlpool, monitor membrane filters, stir mash and on and on, often working on three batches a day. Fish Brewing’s Reel Ales label recently released its delicious Belgian Quad with rich bold maltiness that combines with yeasty hints of raisin, dates, figs, grapes and plums for alcoholic warmth and a complex sweetness.
6.7% ABV, 37 IBU
Bethany Carlsen developed a love for craft beer and started making her own beer about eight years ago when she left her job as a personal trainer to start serving at The Ram in Northgate — with an eye on a brewer job. After a few months an assistant brewer quit and The Ram offered her the part-time position. She took it, and was quickly moved up to being the full-time assistant brewer at the Seattle Ram. She was there for two years before the head brewer position opened up at the Puyallup Ram. Bethany was the head brewer in Puyallup for a little over a year. She left the Ram and joined the Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. where she quickly earned the head brewer job. Her Grit City Porter is a full-bodied but drinkable porter with roasted coffee-toffee flavors and aromas from large amounts of crystal and chocolate malts.