The Simpsons, Taylor Swift and The Little Mermaid were all born in 1989, but for as much future pop culture entertainment that the year launched, it equally lacked female representation in the craft brewing world.
However, that same year the tides turned when Teri Fahrendorf became the second woman craft brewmaster in the United States, eventually earning eight GABF medals and countless other accolades in her nearly-three-decade brewing history. Today, virtually every major craft brewery has at least one woman (if not more) on staff, thanks in no small part to Teri's ongoing efforts to empower female beer professionals by founding the Pink Boots Society, which helps to further women's beer careers through community, education and innovation.
"Eight years ago when I met Teri, I just didn't know that other women were involved in brewing," says Laura Ulrich, San Diego's Chapter Coordinator for Pink Boots Society. Asked why San Diego's craft beer scene needs PBS, her reply was simple. "It's a place to connect, bounce ideas off of one another and ask questions without concern of being judged. Just because we don't have beards doesn't mean we don't know about beer."
Today, the San Diego chapter of the Pink Boots Society is the largest and most active of the 1,200 member-strong international nonprofit organization, whose goal is to "inspire, encourage and empower women to become professionals in the beer industry." Membership isn't just limited to brewers either—any woman who makes at least part of her living through the beer industry is eligible to join (for free!), so women who work in production, design, in tasting rooms or even writers can participate.
Events like International Women's Collaboration Brew Day help raise funds for PBS's educational scholarships, while regular meetings allow female beer professionals the opportunity to catch up with others in the industry and take advantage of unique programs designed to further their craft beer knowledge. The latest meeting, hosted by Benchmark Brewing (6190 Fairmount Ave), featured Candace Moon (a.k.a. the Craft Beer Attorney) who answered legal questions and pitched her latest book Brew 101: A Legal Guide to Opening a Brewery. Upcoming meetings include a coffee-roasting tutorial hosted by Modern Times Brewing (3725 Greenwood St.), an exploration of the Latina aspect of brewing at Border X Brewing (2181 Logan Ave.), and the final meeting of the year at Societe Brewing (8262 Clairemont Mesa Blvd).
San Diego is happily supportive of the group, as Ulrich is quick to point out. "Nobody in San Diego is trying to make it harder for women to get into beer or make it in the industry." That's great news for the next generations of ladies who want to break into the typically male-dominated industry in the fastest-growing scene in the country.
"Ultimately, the drive for San Diego [Pink Boots Society] is that we just want to make good beer," says Ulrich. With plenty of PBS women firmly planted in Stone, Benchmark and many more breweries, it seems like they're well on their way to leveling the playing field.