When you think of the brewing industry, you may assume that it’s a man’s world. But, history shows us that women were the original home brewers. In fact, in ancient Egypt and Samaria, they worshiped beer goddesses. Women were also tavern owners and “alewives” (women who made beer for their families then sold the extra), but as time went on, men began to dominate the industry as guilds were created and the Industrial Revolution began. Still, things are changing in the brewing industry as women brewers step back into the spotlight.
Partner and Brewer at Desert Monks Brewing Co.
Sommer Decker and her husband Chris Decker, along with Arturo Ruiz, Daniel Rosales-Yeomans, and Jose Hinojosa, are the five partners and brewers at Desert Monks Brewing Co in Gilbert. She has been brewing about five years.
“After my husband’s first Afghanistan deployment, we took advantage of the military hotel in the Alps town of Garmisch-Partenkirschen for a pre-Christmas vacation,” Decker recalls. “Before the trip, I would generally tell you that I didn’t like beer. There, beer was literally cheaper than water by serving size, so I purchased the beer. This led to drinking Hefewiesens, which helped me figure out that I like malty, sweeter beers—not something readily available in the U.S. We came home and started brewing our own. With that, the brewing bug was caught and the rest is history.”
Decker shares that, to her, brewing is an art form.
“I love the nearly endless list of flavors, textures, and experiences you can create by varying the grains (sugars), hops (flavor and preservation), yeast, and fruits and spices in a brew. It’s a consumable art that is fun to make and more fun to enjoy.”
She encourages non-beer drinkers to try local brews that might fit their taste better than big-name brands.
“… I encourage you to try a taproom such as ours that offer flights and variety of styles,” she says. “You just might find that you actually really like beer and can responsibly enjoy it with friends and family, building better community as you do.”
Owner and Brewer at Greenwood Brewing
Over the past five-and-a-half years, Megan Greenwood went from being a home brewer with a 5-gallon brewery kit to the owner of her own company, Greenwood Brewing.
“I love the final product that gives a person rosy cheeks and puts a smile on their face,” Greenwood says. “I love that craft beer includes manufacturing and art—we have a production facility which requires extreme precision and sanitation, but then we get to craft our own recipe and style of creating the beverage. It's a perfect blend of science, engineering, and art.”
With a nod to women in brewing, Greenwood Brewing has a Herstory Brew.
“We created Herstory Brew to represent the women that inspire us, that share our brews, and that empower us to thrive in our business,” Greenwood says. “It is a pale ale that 30-year-old beer drinkers enjoy, and non-beer drinkers enjoy. It’s an intentional beer—crisp, easy-drinking, and delicious.”
Greenwood says that her brewery wants to emphasize that it is an inclusive place.
“We want our beer drinkers to feel like they have a place in craft beer, and we want her to know that we think about her when we’re creating our tasty brews,” she adds. “At Greenwood Brewing, we believe in the ‘power of the purposeful pint’ and the strong conversations shared over craft beer. We want everyone to be part of these conversations.”
Innovation Manager at Four Peaks Brewing Company
Brewing is a lifelong career for Melissa Osborne, as she has been brewing professionally since 2003 and has been with Four Peaks since 2004. Her husband is Brewmaster Derek Osborne of BJ’s Brewery, “so we’re a two brewer family,” she says. After so long in the industry, her favorite beer is always “the one in my hand.”
“Every day is something different which makes it fun and challenging, and after 17 years I’m still learning,” she says. “There’s science, math, and physical work involved, and the end result is quality beer.”
Quality is right, as “Four Peaks has entered many competitions, such as World Beer Cup and Great American Beer Festival, and if you come to our brewery, you’ll see a wall of awards.”
At Four Peaks, she is involved in dozens of flavors, but Kilt Lifter is their flagship brew.
“When I started brewing we didn’t have Girls Pint Out or Pink Boots Society, but there were some amazing women who were brewery owners to look up to,” Osborne recalls. “I may not be able to physically do the job like my male counterparts, but I still get the job done. Women were the original brewers.”