Women may be better tasters, but until very recently, they were nearly absent at the upper echelons of craft brewing—the place where palates might matter the most. Now that women are drinking more beer, though, they're also making more beer, and grabbing high-profile spots that enable them to lend their own nuanced spin in a still male-dominated trade.
No one knows this better than Teri Fahrendorf. In 1989, she became only the second woman brewmaster at an American craft brewery, and held a string of top beer industry spots for the next 20 years. Now that she runs the Pink Boots Society—an 800-member-strong organization of women beer professionals—she glosses over the glass ceilings of the past and gushes about the talented women brewers of the present. "Now, if you get stopped, you let yourself get stopped," she says.
Though the list of women brewers is long and growing, these three women are emblematic of craft brewing's yin edge.
Megan Parisi, Bluejacket, Washington, D.C.
Bluejacket is the high-profile brewery-to-be at The Yards in Washington, D.C., and Megan Parisi is its brewmaster. As the brewery undergoes construction (it's slated to open in 2013 as part of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group), Parisi is crisscrossing the country to make collaboration beers with kindred craft brewing spirits. Her intrepid spirit is tempered by a well of experience: Parisi homebrewed for 10 years before "starting at the bottom" at Cambridge Brewing Co. outside of Boston, where she eventually became head brewer.
So far, her Bluejacket collaboration beers have included a honeysuckle, rose and hibiscus biere de garde (brewed with the Brewer's Art in Baltimore) and a saison brewed with foraged greens.
Anne-Catherine Dilewyns, Brouwerij Dilewyns, Dendermonde, Belgium
Brouwerij Dilewyns is the newest brewery in a country where they don't open too often, and at 25, Anne-Catherine Dileywns is Belgium's youngest brewer. Beer runs through Anne-Catherine's veins: her great-great grandmother founded a brewery here in the late 1800s, and her father, Vincent Dilewyns, is one of Belgium's most decorated home brewers. It's dad's recipes that inform such beers as the fruity, beguiling Vicar Tripel, but it's Dilewyns' poise and hard work that are earning her beers accolades. (Somehow it makes sense that Dilewyn's beers are being imported by another industry veteran, Wendy Littlefield of Vanberg & DeWulf)
Mónica Sánchez Diosdado, Beer Factory, Mexico City, Mexico
In the land of Corona and Dos Equis, craft brewing has had a slower upward slog. Mónica Sánchez Diosdado is part of a vanguard pushing it forward. A food engineer by training, Diosdado warmed to brewing early in her career—for her, it combined "chemistry, biology, biotechnology, engineering, microbiology, and product development, but is also an art," she writes.
Despite her forbiding intellect, Diosdado, 26, still hit a few bumps while muscling her way into the male-dominated world of Beer Factory, a Mexican chain of brewery-restaurants. "I will not lie, it cost me to get here," she writes. As brewmaster in one of BF's units, she has a heavy hand in turning out the styles here, from light ale, pilsner, pale ale, Vienna, and stout to seasonals such as an IPA, a coconut beer and imperial stout. As microbrews gain more tread in Mexico, Diosdado hopes to work on ever-evolving projects. "Why not be a pioneer of women working in Beer Factory?" she asks.
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