Women in Craft Beer

Ladies Making Brew Moves

Women Changing The ‘Boys Club’ Nature of Craft Brew Business

A big part of craft beer culture is breaking down misconceptions. Whether that may be the color of the beer in the glass or who brewed the beer you are about to consume, it’s all equally important. Here is a shout out to the ladies making the moves to change what one may think is “right”.



Unite! International Women’s Brew Day and a Michigan Movement

This month’s Michigan Beer Guide re-caps the Pink Boots Society’s International Women’s Brew Day– the day that Unite Pale Ale was brewed by women, for the world. This day was pretty awesome. What’s even more awesome is that it sparked an interest in a group of Michigan women to celebrate the energy felt on one day, all year long.

http://digital.zoompubs.com/publication/?i=206771 (pg. 32)

*The Michigan women’s group is currently being formed. If you have an interest in getting involved, please email me @ pauline.m.knighton@gmail.com


Free Beer is Nice. Passion is Sweeter.

I often have an internal struggle. A struggle between my head and my heart. A boxing match that flames up without much agitation. It’s usually caused by a listening session of NPR World News or even a simple bar conversation of “What do you do? Oh you work with craft beer. That’s a really cool. Do you just like drink beer all the time?” where I question myself. I am not ending poverty or working for world peace, so why is my part in the craft beer industry going to “put a ding in the Universe” as Steve Jobs would say. Besides drinking lots of free beer (of course), why do I care about craft beer? Why do I love craft beer, why does it matter, and why do I spend my waking hours working for its growth and development?

What is my why?

Understanding and questing why you do something is key to any person in any given industry. Simon Sinek first introduced me to the concept of understanding your why in his TED talk, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” In short, he explains that all the great leaders who had significant impact on society or in the history books knew how to rally people behind their why, not their how, or their what. Those should come after the why. For example, Apple. They are a computer company, just like any other computer company. They have the same access to technology, talent, and media. So why is it that they seem to have something different, some special, something people want to so badly be a part of? Why was it that the Wright brothers were able to figure out flight even though there were other teams more qualified and more funded? There is something more at play here, and Simon’s discovery to this mystery profoundly changed the way he thought about the world and how he operated in his world. These great leaders all think, act, and speak alike which is completely opposite of everyone else. They begin their message with why.

It is easy to know what you do. I market Short’s Brewing Company craft beer.  It is easy to know how I do it. I market beer through Facebook, twitter, and advertisements. But it is the why that makes me get up and go to work every day of the week. It is what makes a really cool job become a lifelong pursuit of changing misconceptions.

And so why does this matter? First of all, it only matters if you are passionate about your why. Secondly, it matters because every single person you share your why with is someone who can become a messenger for your passion and for your passion’s industry. When you answer a “what do you do” question with your why statement, you become an industry leader to that person. Your passion is the driving force that can ultimately create a movement. If the person you are conversing with just thinks you sell beer, there will be no movement and they will think you have a cool job, plain and simple. A movement, however, is only created when people buy in to your why. But if they believe what you do is bigger than alcohol in a bottle, they will spread your excitement and passion to more people who will in turn spread it even further. This is a win for you, and your passion. With more people talking, sharing, and spreading your why around the world, you will have an even bigger effects on your industry then you could by yourself. This is why your why is key.

It is important to understand the power of knowing your why; however, finding and putting it into words is not as easy. It is a personal journey that will, and should, continue to evolve with time and experience.

When I listen to an NPR story and my mind wanders down the rabbit hole of how marketing craft beer will create a ding in the universe, I do my best to take a step back and reflect on my company, how my initial love of craft beer blossomed, and why I get up to go to work everyday. Like most craft beer breweries, Short’s Brewing Company was built on one man’s dream to love what he did, love where he lived, and positively affect the people around him while doing it, everyday.  From there, he uncovered a passion for tradition, history, creativity, innovation and community development. The effects of Short’s Brewing Company today are ripples that expand beyond the physical liquid product of beer. This is what gets me up, ready to work, every morning.

So what is MY why elevator pitch? How will I continue to grow the craft beer movement and encourage people to think about craft beer as more than just free beer coolness?

I believe it will develop with time. I hope it does. But for now, for this moment, “what do you do?” “I work to foster imagination and creativity, to bring people together- both friends and strangers, and to build a stronger, more beautiful community.”

Want a beer?




Calendar Appointment Unnecessary When Celebrating Women

Pink shirts on. Boots pulled up. Haired pulled back. Malt poured in. Picture taken. This is how many women in the beer industry started a March Saturday morning. Myself included.

Saturday, March 8th was International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day. A day sponsored by the Pink Boots Society to encourage collaboration and camaraderie amongst women in honor of International Women’s Day, which is also March 8th. Taking the time to celebrate this day with fellow females is fun and dandy, but I wonder what affect these days have on the bigger issue at hand, women’s equality.

There is no doubt that having national days like this are incredibly important for all women. They create opportunities for women who feel unconnected to become connected. It seems, however, like many people get involved for that day/month, pat themselves on the back and wear their t-shirts, and then return to their normal lives.

I will without doubt admit that I am guilty of letting these “International Days” float by me with nothing more than a tweet or a post. Not often do I fully dive into the issue behind an “International” anything. I can be so good at letting things not affect me, that it scares me how many more people share this disheartening talent. So it is not whether these days are good or bad, but the concept of longevity, or the lack of, that I struggle with. How can we use these days to inspire daily respect for all people? To celebrate accomplishments and camaraderie on a daily basis, not just on one day.

Last week, I opened up the local news and one of the headlines read, “Local Women Brings Hot Topic Issue to Community Council.” Why was woman in the title? As if it is totally strange that a woman would dare bring up an issue to her local government? Since I am me and no one else, I can only speak for myself. And I personally want my accomplishments praised for the accomplishment itself, not the fact that I happen to be a woman who accomplished it. Yes I am a women; however, I also am a human being and want to be judged as a human being not just as a women, every day of the year.

So now I come back to Saturday’s celebration of International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day. The day in itself was very positive. I met women who also work for Short’s for the first time, and I loved the fact that one of our male brewers was more excited about brewing with us than we were! As we continue adding “human group recognition days” to the calendar, I hope more people use these days to inspire grassroots movements that spark conversation, collaboration, camaraderie, and most importantly action within communities. It is going to take a lot more effort than just posing for a picture by a brew kettle, to create change.

In the craft beer industry, The Pink Boots Society is a wonderful example of encouraging discussion and community amongst women around the country on a more regular basis. Regular events hosted by this organization bring women together to create a daily network. If more people become involved in organizations that have a philosophy like the Pink Boots Society, or even grab a beer with friends at the local bar to discuss social issues, there will be more forward progress than if women didn’t.

I also believe, however, that the only way women will rise to true equality is if men and women alike participate in this discussion. It is wonderful to have a network of people who share similar characteristics to yourself, but if your goal is to make change then there needs to be a focus on mutual support from both parties. If this mutual support does not grow and develop, then the progress will be minimal.

So use these days as a benchmark to think back on the year that passed and reflect on your actions as a person. Did you celebrate and respect the people you share this world with on a continuous basis? Or did you wait until your calendar told you to do so?

Interesting Views on International Women’s Day:


5 Disney Princesses Walk into a Bar…

Saturday morning, I was eating breakfast at Wolfgangs in Grand Rapids. Great place. There was a young girl, probably six years old, at the table next to me with a giant grin on her face. In front of her sat a stack of five pancakes completely drenched in syrup and melted chocolate rounded off with a dollop of creamy whipped goodness. She was adorable. But what made the scene quintessential was her choice of dress: a pink and purple nightgown with five Disney Princess heads covering her head to ankle. Instant childhood flashbacks.

disney princesses

Last week we talked about social norms. Today, I introduce you to a collection of media that has shaped female social norms at a very early age, The Disney Princesses. Now that they are seasoned and experienced, what would they tell this pancake princess about life and libations on her 21st birthday?

1. Pocahontas: Growing up, I was taught that the world is not something dead that you can claim. Every rock and tree and animal has a spirit and a name, and this is what makes life rich. When John Smith came to my village, I had to teach him the importance of appreciating our natural world. This is why an American Stout is my drink of choice. There are so many natural ingredients that can be added to enhance its taste, aroma, and mouthfeel, and until you experience many variations, you cannot fully appreciate the style. Live life with your arms open to the unfamiliar and your life will be rich.

3. Ariel: Now that I am 45 years young, there is so much I want to tell the young ladies who grew up watching my very young self fall in love much too fast! First off, I want to say that I absolutely adore Imperial IPAs. This robust beer has a bold hoppiness that just might rip your tongue out and leave you speechless! But jokes aside, to have a robust life, one filled with what makes you happy, you must learn to lean in to situations, not shy from them.  And as stated by Sheryl Sandberg, “Fortune does favor the bold and you’ll never know what you’re capable of if you don’t try.” There is no life guide- you will make mistakes- but if you take chances than you will find yourself in grander situations never imagined before.

4. Cinderella: I was so dreamy as a young girl. I will always enjoy daydreaming, but I have also come to thoroughly enjoy real life; the everyday ups and downs. I have come to enjoy the wrinkles that appear around my eyes and hands, for each one represents a piece of knowledge that I earned and can share. And I want to tell you that you should celebrate every knowledge line because you earned it! No one takes you seriously when you are 80 years old and look 20. Our bodies are like Belgian Dubbels. True fans know that the older they are, the more robust and flavorful they become. Pick your fans wisely, you only deserve the ones that thoroughly appreciate you.

2. Jasmine: When I was a young girl, I lived behind tall castle walls that inhibited me from exploring the outside world. Everything I knew was given to me, my life was easy but it was also boring. Your life should be filled with experiences that give it girth. Life should be like a barleywine; strong, intense, and complex with a hint of fruit, sweetness, or bittersweetness. This variation never makes my tasting experience the same as the previous. Never hid behind walls, that is the easy way through life. Jump the walls and explore worlds beyond your comfort zone, you never know what you will discover about yourself.

5. Belle: Life is all about choices. I believe who you choose to surround yourself with tells a great deal about yourself. Keep in mind that life is hazy, like a hefeweizen. There are a lot of obstacles you will face throughout your lifetime, and if you choose to fight the haze with people who drain you (like the people who lived in my village), you will be miserable, so make the effort to find people who inspire you. This applies to your friends, community, and spouse. These people may not always be the most popular or best looking, but they will light something inside of you that draws you to them. Do not ignore that magical feeling.

All five of these characters experienced a sense of confinement and lack of choice. It wasn’t until they broke boundaries and tested their comfort zones that that they found (wait for it…) “a whole new world” of possibilities! These possibilities affected every part of their lives (including their taste buds) and so they felt compelled to share. Cheers!

Book Recommendation: Lean In by: Sheryl Sandberg

Girls Know How to Butt Across the WWW and Beyond

A Wednesday evening of googling “women in beer” led me to the site, The Pink Boots Society. I am slightly embarrassed to admit this is my first exploratory visit of the site. I have had the pleasure of getting a beer with two Pink Boot Society women and they were, and are, pretty neat women to say the least.

After hitting tabs and checking out the blog, the pink-laden site led me to two note-worthy discoveries.

1. Girl Talk HQ– A website run my a group of women who scour the world wide web to find noteworthy stories of female amazingness. This is a site worth checking out on a regular basis.

2. The Empowerment Project by: Girl Talk HQ- An “in-progress” project of story gathering and arranging into a documentary to highlight strong professional women. The documentary group ask these women how they define success and their thoughts on improving female roles in the workplace.

Girl Talk HQ’s documentary project made a stop in San Francisco to chat with Teri Fahrendorf, the first female brew master west of the Rockies, the first female brew master in California, and the first female brew master in Oregon. Teri is also the founder of The Pink Boots Society. Talk about a women kicking butt in beer…Teri is now on my people I must meet list.


The film is scheduled to be released this spring and I eagerly await how the crew will portray the women’s stories, as well as portray women’s current place in the professional whelm.

Happy exploring!

Photo Credit: Girl Talk HQ 


Pursuing Happiness with Stiletto Shoes and Piss Water Beer

Human beings are norm-creating experts. We create the norms, live by the norms, and aren’t supposed to question the norms.  The norms are the norms.  The majority of norms are not even written down but are taught through reinforcement, sometimes unintentionally.  These norms become our social compass and direct our actions, thoughts, and choices.  We are creatures who find comfort in grasping onto something, anything, if it provides the comfort of example to follow without sticking out or making us look foolish.

In today’s consumer culture, about $68 billion is spent on television advertising. Advertising helps to create and reinforce cultural/social norms.  With respect to beer, Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors together spent more than $1 billion on brand advertising last year.  In the advertisements, the focus seems to be that men play the role of wanting sexy women, women play the role of being sexy, and light, fizzy beer plays the starring role in ensuring that sex happens.

Whether intentional or not, the money spent reinforces for women that their individual sex appeal leads to happiness. This sex appeal is defined by the choices women make at a bar, which include drink selection, attire choice, and behavior.  Attire: something skimpy and sexy. Show the boobs.  Behavior: flirty, willing, and cool.  A chatty personality is not necessary or desired. Drink selection: something bubbly, fruity, and flavor-lacking.  Brand name: something normal.

The beer commercials never tell us how to behave, but they show us. Over and over again, they cut and paste images in our head. And yet, the impact is rarely talked about. People protest laws all day because they are public and written down, but it is the unspoken norms that we need to talk about. We need to challenge them even though we often feel we lack control of them because they do not have a public face.

I can’t help but laugh when I read the norms above out loud, but I stop when I recall the memories of dressing scantily at the bars in college, not standing up for myself because I wanted people to like me, or questioning everything I said or did when a guy showed me attention. This was a stupid trap that I fell into many times. I know you have these memories too.

Now, however, as a young woman, I know that I have choice. I get to choose the messages I tell myself and one day, tell my daughter. Forming and delivering these messages is difficult, especially when our consumer culture makes it too easy to underestimate our abilities as women. It is time, however, for more women to jump off the norm merry-go-round and make a conscious effort to define what their happiness images look like and the behavior associated with them.

I love the beer industry, and when I got out of college and had the choice between Short’s Brewing Company and MillerCoors, I chose craft, regardless of the salary I missed out on. I wanted to be proud of the brand I promoted, and I never wanted to be ashamed of selling their message. And, I believe I made the right choice. There is no doubt that this is a male-dominated industry, but I spend my days surrounded by men who respect me as a creative individual, who expect me to be fully-clothed at beer festivals because anything less and I might be a little chilly, and who never once question my female palate when ordering a Double IPA at the bar. I chose wisely. This proves to me that there is more for me to choose from than scantily dressed sales positions if I intend to work in beer.

We need to start talking about unwritten norms so we become more comfortable with it. You are not alone; we all experience them.  But if we choose to stay silent, if we choose to play by the consumerism rules, then nothing will change. Sex will always sell, and your daughters and granddaughters will continue to second-guess their behaviors and actions as they explore the path to womanhood and happiness.

This path is a personal one that media images will never do justice. It is not cut and dry, rather it is messy and takes time. Only you know when you are happy. So take note of the moments you feel most confident, sexy, and satisfied. I am willing to bet these moments don’t involve you standing at a bar with a mini skirt, stiletto heels, and a Bud Lite.

I feel satisfied and confident when I surround myself with people who respect my personal norms and who contribute to my intellectual growth. And in my prince charming search, my choice is a man who thoroughly finds my ambition sexy, who enjoys taking part in discussion, who appreciates my small boobs, and who never makes me second guess my behaviors that make me, me. This is my happiness.

By: Pauline Knighton