Whereas I don’t always believe that women need to segregate themselves from the men in the craft beer industry through the creation of gender-based organizations and groups, I do believe that the women in the industry do deserve to be celebrated. While there are so many more women in the industry that I would have loved to have highlighted, I have narrowed down the top 10 Amazing Women in Craft Beer that I personally think every craft beer lover should know and follow.
Please note that this list is based on my personal opinions and relationships with these women, and is therefore extremely biased. Nonetheless, these are all very important women who have already and continue to make a huge impact on the beautiful world of craft beer. Also note that the order of the women on the list does not signify ranking, it is merely a listing. Cheers!
1. Julia Herz
Craft Beer Program Director, Brewer’s Association
Biographical Snapshot: Julia Herz is orchestrator of Craft Beer Muses, CraftBeer.com’s outlet for furthering the craft beer conversation. As the Craft Beer Program Director Brewers Association (BA) and Publisher of CraftBeer.com, Julia serves as an advocate for and educator about U.S. craft brewers, and is a key spokesperson for the BA.
Julia is a BJCP beer judge, award-winning homebrewer, a Certified Cicerone® and leader of American Craft Beer Week. Her areas of expertise include: resources and education on craft beer, general statistics on the craft brewer segment, beer styles and trends plus craft beer and food pairing. She has been featured by the Food Network ‘Unwrapped’ Series, interviewed on Public Radio, Sirius/XM, CNBC Squawk Box, Fox News and hundreds of other media outlets. Julia is a graduate of University of South Florida and previously worked at CNN in Washington D.C.
Why Julia is a Rockstar: Julia is the epiphany of the term “craft beer advocate” — regardless of gender. Julia is arguably the strongest voice of the craft beer industry. Her passion, drive and knowledge is extremely inspiring. She has, hands down, one of the best palates I’ve ever seen in my life. If there is one person in the craft beer community that I aspire to be like the most, man or woman, it is Julia.
Follow Julia on Twitter: @HerzMuses
2. Teri Fahrendorf
Brewmaster, Road Brewer, Founder of Pink Boots Society
Biographical Snapshot: Teri is the second woman brewmaster in the history of American craft beer. She was the first woman brewmaster at both a California craft brewery and at an Oregon craft brewery. Her extensive brewing experience includes Sieben’s River North Brewpub in Chicago; Golden Gate Brewing Company in Berkeley, California; Triple Rock Brewing Company in Berkeley, California; and Steelhead Brewing Company‘s five locations in Oregon and California. Teri has won a total of eights medals in the Great American Beer Festival competition.
Teri is currently the President of the Pink Boots Society, an international charitable trade organization created to inspire, encourage, and empower women to become professionals in the Beer Industry. Teri also boasts experience as a technical speaker at many beer industry conferences, and has written technical articles for brewing trade magazines and books. Teri is a graduate of the Siebel Institute of Brewing Technology in Chicago, where she was voted Class President; the first woman class president in Siebel’s history. Teri also has a Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin.
Why Teri is a Rockstar: When Teri first started brewing professionally in 1989, there were virtually no women working in breweries. Now, as a result of her efforts with the Pink Boots Society, every major and most of the smaller craft breweries in the country have at least one woman on the team. I have yet to meet her in person, but I look forward to that day!
Follow Pink Boots on Twitter: @PinkBootsBeer
3. Lucy Saunders
Owner, F&B Communications LLC
Biographical Snapshot: Lucy is a writer (newspapers, magazines and books) and educator primarily focused on food & beer pairings, cooking with beer, and environmentalism in the beer industry. She is the author of five cookbooks including Cooking with Beer,Grilling with Beer,and The Best of American Beer & Food. Lucy was one of three women who contributed to Beer Hunter, Whisky Chaser — an international collection of essays honoring the famous beer & whiskey writer, Michael Jackson. Lucy is also an instructor at the Siebel Institute on Beer & Food.
In addition to her writings, Lucy is the organizer of the Great Lakes Water Conservation Conference for craft brewers and policy makers as well as a speaker on sustainability topics in brewing. Lucy is a graduate of the Siebel Institute’s Sensory Evaluation course, and trained in baking and pastry at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. She also graduated from Hamilton University with a Bachelors degree in English Literature.
Why Lucy is a Rockstar: Not only is Lucy a pioneer in the world of food & beer, but I also consider her to be a beloved mentor, trusted friend and respected colleague. Ever since I met her (roughly 4 years ago), Lucy has taken me under her wing and has been one of my greatest supporters. She is one of the most intelligent, passionate and kindest people I have ever met. I have learned so much and have so much more to learn from Lucy.
Follow Lucy on Twitter: @lucybeercook & @GLWater
4. Wendy Littlefield
Co-Founder, Vanberg & DeWulf
Biographical Snapshot: Founded in 1982 by Wendy Littlefield and her husband Don, Vanberg & DeWulf pioneered the importation of artisan ales from Belgium. From 1997 to 2003, Wendy and her husband Don co-founded and ran Brewery Ommegang, the first brewery to produce cork-finished, bottle conditioned Belgian style beers in America. Wendy was the first American woman inducted into the Belgian Brewers Guild in its more than 500 year history.
Wendy is also the founder of Pi Group, a marketing consulting firm with special interest in women’s issues, girls’ education, widening participation for minorities, sustainable dining on campus – and how non-profits can use social networking to advance their causes. She graduated magna cum laude from Yale University with a Bachelors degree in Architectural History.
Why Wendy is a Rockstar: As fate would have it, I met Wendy the very same day I met Lucy (above) — a pinnacle moment in my life as a female beer blogger and aspiring beer professional. Wendy’s resume is quite possibly the most impressive of all the women in the craft beer industry. If anyone should be deemed the first woman pioneer of craft beer in the U.S., Wendy gets my vote. I’m proud to call her a friend and mentor. I look forward to the day when I can join in on one her adventures in Belgium.
Follow Wendy on Twitter: @belgianexpert
5. Mariah Calagione
Vice President/ Marketing, Dogfish Head Brewery
Biographical Snapshot: Considered the right-side of the brain inside the workings of Dogfish Head, Mariah is not just Sam’s wife, but an integral part of the Dogfish Head team. After supporting her husband with an actual paycheck for the first few years, Mariah joined the Dogfish Head team full-time in 1997. As Vice President, Mariah works with the marketing, web, merchandise, tour and community teams. She also oversees all the social media marketing done by Dogfish.
Prior to and during the beginning of Dogfish Head’s development, she was Director at WBOC-TV, a CBS affiliate based in Maryland. Mariah graduated with a Bachelors in Public Policy from Brown University.
Why Mariah is a Rockstar: Mariah is living proof that behind every great man is an even greater woman (no offense Sam). In my eyes, Mariah is the glue that holds Dogfish Head’s core together. She is one of the brilliant minds behind Dogfish Head’s creative and innovative marketing. Under Mariah’s leadership, Dogfish Head has emerged as one of the, if not the, most influential craft beer brands on social media. She is also one of the biggest supporters of beer bloggers, and I am honored to call her a friend!
Follow Mariah on Twitter: @dogfishbeer
6. Kim Jordan
CEO & President, New Belgium Brewing
Biographical Snapshot: As CEO and President of New Belgium Brewing, Kim is active in day-to-day sales, Branding, and Organizational Development aspects of the business with a huge focus on mid-range and long-range strategical development. She cultivated her passion for social work, the environment and community to develop one of the fastest growing craft breweries in the U.S. Under her leadership, New Belgium boasts a healthy internal culture with progressive policies such as employee-ownership, open book management and philanthropic giving. She negotiated New Belgium’s transition to wind powered electricity through an employee vote and as over seen the implementation of Colorado’s largest private solar array at the Fort Collins facility.
In her twenty years as an entrepreneur, Kim has spoken to thousands of people in the business, nonprofit and academic worlds about how to create a vibrant and rewarding work culture that enhances the bottom line. Kim graduated from Colorado State University with a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Her early work included being an advocate for women’s rights and family health at Project Self Sufficiency.
Why Kim is a Rockstar: Kim is one of the most powerful women in craft beer. As the third largest craft brewery in the U.S., New Belgium changing the way craft beer is perceived and consumed in the marketplace. Kim is also driving major change in policy and brewing operations across the world. But don’t let her success and notoriety intimidate, Kim is an extremely down to earth, very approachable woman.
Follow New Belgium on Twitter: @newbelgium
7. Lisa Morrison
Biographical Snapshot: Known amongst the craft beer community as The Beer Goddess, Lisa is a Portland-based freelance beer writer, published author, beer instructor, beer judge and general crusader for the craft beer movement. Her freelance writing work includes: the Brewers Association’s New Brewer, Celebrator Beer News, Northwest Brewing News and more. Lisa is also the host of Beer O’Clock, a radio program on Newsradio 101 FM KXL connecting beer lovers from around the world to the best in great beer through exclusive interviews, brews news, event listings, and tasting notes, etc.
Lisa is also the author of Craft Beers of the Pacific Northwest, the first book in more than a decade that brings beer lovers the very best insider information on the best places to source Northwest beer. Lisa graduated Colorado State University with a degree in Technical Journalism.
Why Lisa is a Rockstar: As one of the first modern-day female beer writers, Lisa has helped to forge the path for beer writer a bloggers, both male and female alike. She is a staple and a figure in her local Portland beer scene, actively supporting her local watering holes, breweries, fellow beer writers and bloggers. Lisa is one of the kindest women I have ever met, and I’m truly honored to call her a friend.
Follow Lisa on Twitter: @TheBeerGoddess
8. Nicole Erny
Exam Manager, Cicerone Certification Program
Biographical Snapshot: By far the youngest on this list, Nicole Erny was recently crowned the first woman Master Cicerone, and is one of four people in the world to claim the title. Her main responsibilities at the Cicerone Certification Program include planning and managing all aspects of the Certified Cicerone Exam; leading trainings for distributors, brewery sales teams, and other groups of beer industry professionals; Administering the Cicerone Exam at various locations throughout the US and beyond.
As a native Northern Californian with a special focus on Belgian beer, Nicole has created fantastic beer menus and formulated pairings that have captured the interest of beer drinkers from novice to expert. She has a Bachelor’s Degree,Interdisciplinary Humanities with emphasis in Media Studies from New College of California.
Why Nicole is a Rockstar: As someone who is lucky enough to live in Nicole’s neck of the world, I can attest to her super-human tasting powers and ridiculously vast knowledge of beer. When I first met Nicole, as she was tending bar at The Trapist in Oakalnd, I knew right away that she was destined for great things in beer. I’ve had the honor of taking the Certified Cicerone Exam under her management, and have experienced her training first hand. She is one of the most energetic women in the industry, and I’m really excited to see what she accomplishes in the coming years!!
Follow Nicole on Twitter: @Beer_Muse
9. Melissa Cole
Author, Let Me Tell You About Beer
Biographical Snapshot: Melissa is an expert beer writer, beer event organizer, bar staff training and corporate events. Melissa Cole is also the founder and author of the popular UK beer blog, Taking the Beard Out of Beer. Melissa has been invited to judge at beer competitions from London to Italy and Amsterdam to America, having built a reputation as having a fine palate and fun approach to all things brewed. She is lead partner in London’s only dedicated beer tasting business, lovebeer@borough in Borough Market.
Melissa recently published her début book on beer, Let Me Tell You About Beer. She is also London’s leading exponent of corporate tastings and beer experiences, with everything from 10 cover high-end beer matched dinners for senior executives of blue chip companies to themed canape receptions for 300 delegates under her belt. Melissa was also named one of the Most Powerful Women in the Drinks Industry by Channel4 Food.
Why Melissa is a Rockstar: The percentage of women beer drinkers in the UK is pathetically low. So much so, that mega-corporations have targeted the alcohol loving women of the UK with horrible marketing gimmicks like clear beer. Through her writing, speaking engagements, and event planning, Melissa has made it her mission to educate women in the UK about craft beer. She is a friend that I frequently enjoy standing next to on a virtual soap box, using our blogs and Twitter voices to inspire change in the beer community.
Follow Melissa on Twitter: @MelissaCole
10. Gwen Conley
Quality Assurance Manager, Lost Abbey
Biographical Snapshot: Gwen got her start in the beer biz as microbiologist for Coors in Golden, Colorado. She left Coors to work for the Ball Corporation, where she went through their sensory training program and became an expert on how colors, aromas, and flavors work together to create sensory experiences. After that, Gwen took her experience to Flying Dog, where she managed their QA efforts and conducted educational programs in beer and food pairings.
Gwen is currently manages the brewing and production processes at Lost Abbey where she is “putting all that fancy science equipment in the lab to work”. She also oversees Lost Abbey’s sensory sessions and assists in production of its much sought after barrel blends. Gwen is an instructor at the American Brewers Guild, instructing aspiring brewers on the subjects of Quality and Microbiology. She graduated the University of Colorado with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology.
Why Gwen is a Rockstar: Picture the phrase: Kicking ass and taking names — that is Gwen. Gwen is quite possibly the most badass woman in the craft beer world. Although extremely fun and sociable, Gwen is one tough and serious chick when it comes to the quality of beer. Her lab work is changing the landscape of beer, one microorganism at a time. But don’t let her geeky science background fool you, Gwen definitely knows how to have a good time
Follow Gwen on Twitter: @sensorygoddess