While the majority of the field is male dominated, one Texas woman and a national organization are making strides to diversify the brewing industry.
A recent Gallup poll estimated 63% of Americans consume alcohol. The beverage of choice? Beer. That same poll reported nearly 42% of respondents would choose beer over any other form of alcohol.
Spend a little time in Texas and you will quickly realize Texans love their beer. The Lone Star State has one of the highest rates of per capita beer consumption (11th most) consuming 30.9 gallons. Whether you are enjoying a sporting event, tailgating with friends, or watching live music from some of the best musicians in the world, you are likely to have a Lone Star or Shiner in hand.
To little surprise, 90% of brewery production staffs are male, which shows a glaring area where the industry is lagging behind. However, one North Texas woman made history in 2021 as the first female head brewer in DFW, brewing for Panther Island Brewing.
On a whim, Sandra Murphy decided to try her hand at brewing.
“My husband decided he wanted to homebrew, and I was like ‘uh, Ok cool, great,’” Murphy said to ABC affiliate WFAA. “I had an idea for a beer, and he was like, ‘That’s crazy. If you want to do that, you have to do that on your own.’”
Murphy took the words to heart and began volunteering to make test batches for five months. In 2018, following the death of her 10-year-old daughter, Murphy made the decision to go all in. “I just decided then that I was not going to let any opportunity pass me by because you don’t ever know how long you have,” Murphy said.
Her talent and skills were quickly awarded by a promotion to an assistant brewer. Once Murphy performed at a high level as an assistant brewer, it was not long before she was bumped to a brewer, and ultimately the head brewer at Panther Island Brewing.
While Murphy's ascension may not be a surprise to those who have enjoyed her creations these last few years, there’s a new generation of women leading the charge in Texas within the craft beer brewing movement.
One organization and its Texas chapters work to lend education and support to women pursuing a passion for brewing. The Pink Boots Society (PBS) is a national organization whose mission is to assist, inspire and encourage women fermented and alcoholic beverage industry professionals to advance their careers through education.
In addition to seminars held in conjunction with meetings, the 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization also offers scholarship opportunities to its members through the support of donations from industry partners, members, and community supporters. Since 2007, PBS has strived to shine a light on the talented and underrepresented women in the craft beer industry. With chapters throughout the country, the organization is a conduit to giving women beer professionals a more visible seat at the table.
To bring more opportunities to more women, PBS hosts its annual Pink Boots Collaboration Brew Day which coincides with and celebrates International Women’s Day held on March 8. For several years, the event has partnered with Yakima Chief Hops (YCH) to create an exclusive Pink Boots Collaboration Brew Day hops blend, and every year PBS members create a new blending during the hops rub at their annual fall GABF meeting.
Looking for more information?
Want to learn more about Pink Boots Society and how you can help support women to advance their careers and passion for craft beer brewing? Visit their website at https://www.pinkbootssociety.org/donate/.