The Pink Boots Society Turns Eight This Year!

pink boots society

It started as an accident, but it has grown to be a subculture in the brewing world

The Pink Boots Society turns eight years old on June 16, 2015.

That was the day that founder, Teri Fahrendorf, an accomplished Brewmaster of nearly 20 years, met fellow female brewer Laura Ulrich, who was working at Stone Brewing. It was a part of a road trip that Fahrendorf undertook that summer to meet up with brewers from around the country, and represent her gender.

Neither woman knew each other. They always thought they were one of a few or the only one of their gender to be working in the industry. That one meeting had them wondering how many other women brewers and beer professionals there were.

It took off from there as Fahrendorf met Whitney Thompson at Troegs and others during her trip.

It started as a list on a blog and now it’s a group using money raised through fund raisers to encourage and teach fellow female beer professionals on a monthly basis.

These scholarship recipients — which come from all walks of being a beer professional — must then in turn “Pay It Forward” and either write an article to be published or else give a public talk to impart their knowledge to others.

“We are forcing them to be a leader and it’s helping them step outside the box,” Fahrendorf said. “It’s really important to us that the info is transferred to the other members that didn’t get to partake in that scholarship or to the brewing community at large. We are encouraging them to step out of their comfort zone … and it makes women more visible and they are being role models and stepping forward.”

A non-profit, the PBS was a part of a world-wide brew day on Sunday, March 8, 2015 (International Women’s Day) in which more than 100 breweries around the world made a Unite Red Ale with the monies going toward helping fund the scholarship program.

A map with the breweries that made the beer is available at

Fahrendorf said that even with all the growth among the craft beer world, women joining the Pink Boots Society is at an even higher clip. “[It] makes sense in a way, because in a way we might be playing catchup,” she said about the approximate 150 women joining the society each month.”We can’t keep up with membership [vetting], we are getting swamped,” she said.

Fahrendorf also pointed out that many women may have “sat on the sideline” and waited to get a better idea of what the Pink Boots was all about. “Now that we have proven ourselves over this eight years, women are kind of saying ‘well maybe this is safe for me to join now,’ since they know we are not out there trying to make money off of women brewers,” she said.

Membership is free, but there are qualifications to be a member. Of course one of them is obvious: You have to be a female. The other is that the woman must be making money in the beer industry. It’s not just for brewers.

Fahrendorf said the society has lab techs, distributors, Cicerones … even jewelers that make beer-inspired pieces. As long as they are making money off their craft, she hopes they will join.

“I would rather that we raise the money through fundraisers or sponsorships than ask members to use money they may not be able to use,” she said. “We want to represent all women beer professionals, not just the ones that can afford to join.”

They meet twice a year, in the spring at the Craft Brewers Conference and at the Great American Beer Festival in the fall. It brings together nearly 2,000 members from 40 world-wide chapters for a time to talk, network, explore ideas and learn. All without a single drop of testosterone in the room.

“I might be the mother of the PBS, but it has its own personality and its own dreams and goals,” Fahrendorf said. “That manifests through what the whole group wants.”


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