Pink Boots Society Inspires and Educates Women Beer Professionals

Pink Boots Society Inspires and Educates Women Beer Professionals

What happens when you take one pair of pink boots and slip them on the feet of a vibrant, determined woman who is passionate about beer? You get Teri Fahrendorf, founder and president of the Pink Boots Society, who serves as an inspirational role model to women beer professionals around the world.

In 2007, Teri quit her day job and made her ultimate dream come true: to meet and brew with the brewmasters she met at festivals and conferences over the years. With a trailer hitched to her minivan, she drove cross country from Oregon to Maine and covered over 12,000 miles in five months.

Teri left an indelible mark on the beer industry over the past 27 years. She spent 17 of those years as Steelhead’s brewmaster. Teri became the third woman craft brewmaster (and the first to be hired for a job who wasn’t an owner). She was also the first woman brewmaster at craft breweries in California and Oregon. Despite her years of experience in the beer industry, Teri knew that her male brewer peers would be shocked to see her show up at their doorstep.

“I knew the guys would ask me if I was lost when I walked through the door. As soon as I started talking beer lingo, they figured out quickly that I was one of them.”

Word spread quickly about Teri’s tour, and she was personally invited by brewmasters to spend a day brewing with them. Wearing her signature pink boots her mother-in-law gave her, she visited 70 breweries and three distilleries. She participated in 38 brews and two distillations during her whirlwind road trip that she called “The Pink Boots Tour.”

While Teri knew that women worked at breweries across the country, the women she met didn’t realize that other female brewers actually existed. As a result, they all asked Teri the same question: how many of us are out there? Teri had no idea so she started tracking the women brewers she met along her trip. Her initial list of 60 women became the inspiration behind the Pink Boots Society.

In 2007, Teri founded the Pink Boots Society, an international non-profit organization that empowers women beer professionals to advance their careers in the beer industry through education. The organization’s name was inspired by Teri’s pink boots she wore throughout her trip.

In 2008, she invited the women she met on her trip to participate in their first meeting at the Craft Brewers Conference in San Diego. They brainstormed and discussed the challenges they faced as women in the beer industry. As a result, they realized the industry needed a stronger female voice.

“We never had a meeting with all estrogen in the room. We wanted to create an organization just for women. If we didn’t stand for something, then we didn’t stand for anything. It was important to differentiate ourselves in the industry.”

The women of the Pink Boots Society are the movers and shakers of the beer industry. There are over 1,800 members with chapters across the U.S. and around the world. In order to be eligible for membership, women need to be beer professionals and earn at least part of their income from beer. However, membership is not solely limited to brewers. Members range from lab techs to accountants to beer writers.

The Pink Boots Society awards 12 scholarships to members each year (one per month). The scholarships assist with industry training and education. In exchange for the scholarship, recipients are asked to “pay it forward.” They share their knowledge and personal experiences with female colleagues by speaking at conferences or writing articles.

“I don’t want women to use the gender-based glass ceiling as an excuse as to why they can’t get ahead in their careers,” Teri explained. “That’s why we concentrate on education. Women may not have enough formal training to bust through obstacles that hold them back from job advancement.”

In celebration of International Women’s Day, the Pink Boots Society recently held their second annual International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day event on March 8. Members from around the world brewed and sold a signature craft beer. The money raised goes towards fundraising efforts for the Society.

Compared to ten years ago, Teri mentioned there are more opportunities for women and now it’s considered “cool” for women to become craft brewers. It’s also very encouraging for female consumers to see women brewing their favorite craft beer. Teri pointed out that a recent Nielsen survey found that women in the 18 to 34 age range prefer beer to wine as their adult beverage of choice.

“These young women think it’s far more hip to drink craft beer with their peers compared to drinking ‘mom juice’ – the wine they saw their Baby Boomer moms drink.”

The Pink Boots Society inspires and encourages women beer professionals to be brand ambassadors and leaders. The organization gives women a resounding platform to finally be heard in an industry that has been traditionally run by men over the years.

For more information about the Pink Boots Society, visit

Therese Pope is a freelance copywriter located in Northern California who writes for the restaurant/food and hospitality industry. She is a die-hard foodie and wine lover with a passion for cooking. Check out her Facebook page, The Gold Country Foodista

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