TELL US ABOUT THE PINK BOOTS SOCIETY.
In 2010, a group of women in the beer industry came together to showcase their spirits and their beers for a stage show during the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. The Women of Beer was then formed and quickly grew to collaborate on a beer (Ninkasi’s Angel). The collaborations continued, and in 2013, founding member Jayne Lewis of Two Birds Brewing met the board of the Pink Boots Society (PBS) – an international organisation formed to empower women in the beer industry, through education and support – while in the US and from there the foundation was brought back to Australia.
HOW MANY MEMBERS DO YOU HAVE AND FROM WHICH AREAS OF THE INDUSTRY ARE THEY?
We have women from all areas of the industry involved in PBS – from brewers to sales reps to hospitality workers and those who work for malting companies. Any woman who works in any aspect of the industry that involves beer or making beer is welcome to join! We currently have about 220 members on our mailing list.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE WOMEN’S REPRESENTATION IN THE BEER INDUSTRY?
In Australia, the women who pioneered their way through beer really set the tone for the brewing industry today – there’s a real sense of equality in beer currently, and women feel like there’s a place for them in the industry.
HOW CAN MORE WOMEN BE INCENTIVISED TO JOIN THE INDUSTRY?
I hope that women don’t need be incentivised – Pink Boots was created as a support network for those who do [want to enter the industry], and to let them know that we all have each other’s backs. What we do need to work on is recruiting more women to drink beer; in Australia it’s at about 19%, while the US is at 50%.
WHAT SKILLS DO WOMEN BRING TO THE BREWING INDUSTRY?
Women really bring everything that anyone brings to the brewing industry – passion, support, strength. If anything, women often have to learn to work smarter to work around a brew house. It’s probably also worth noting that females tend to have a better, more distinct palate than men, making women of particular value on beer judging panels.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG WOMAN CONSIDERING A CAREER IN THE BEVERAGE SECTOR?
My advice would be to dream big. Set yourself apart from the pack and work hard. As women, we have the opportunity to stand out and change how people view the world, especially in regards to beer.
WHO ARE SOME OF THE AUSTRALIAN WOMEN KICKING GOALS IN BREWING?
There’s no doubt that Jayne Lewis and Danielle Allen from Two Birds have created something pretty special – and not because they’re women who own a beer company, but because it’s an all round great business. Kirrily Waldhorn, the Beer Diva, has been educating the masses about beer, changing people’s views and always displaying class. Sam Fuss of Philter Brewing was one of the first commercial female brewers in modern brewing in Australia, and Agi Gajic from Sparkke Change Beverages is really starting conversations with her brews.
Anita Holdsworth has just accepted the role as the first female plant manager at Cascade Brewery, bringing CUB’s craft brewing operations up to scratch. Tina Panoutsos has arguably the best palate in Australia, with decades of beer judging experience and she’s always happy to spend time teaching women who are new to the industry.
And honestly, president Alli Macdonald has been the driving force behind the huge growth of Pink Boots in the past year. There are so many incredible women involved in the industry now; it’s really amazing to be able to learn from them all.