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Beer, Brats and Beyond Tour Scholarship Recipients Announced
Scholarship Recipients
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The Pink Boots Society is excited to announce and introduce the twelve ladies that have been selected by the PBS Scholarship Selection Committee (SSC) to receive a travel scholarship for the Beer, Brats and Beyond Cultural Exchange to Germany October 19 – 29, 2018.

Hailing from the United States, Canada, Peru and Mexico, these twelve women run the gamut from new to the industry to those have considerable experience, some of which have opened their own breweries. Natalie Baldwin, Cassandra Barlow, Blair Elias, Grace Howard, Sara Lefevre, Betty Lopez, Katarina Martinez, Diana McKenzie, Becky Peppelman, Ellen Sherrill, Michelle Tham and Nicki Werner will be embarking on an eleven-day, co-ed insider’s tour of the Bavarian brewing industry that aims to foster relationships between North American and Bavarian breweries with sessions, tastings and tours with women brewers.

Natalie Baldwin, Research & Development Brewer at Breakside Brewery in Portland, OR., may have only three years’ experience in the brewing industry but her accomplishments in that time and her goals for the future stretch well beyond her years. She says, “I find my interest primarily lies with traditional European beers, with a predominant focus on German lagers and Breakside’s R&D program is currently focused on lager brewing. I’m honored to be in this position—but I also understand that my skill set can only be so thorough without being immersed in where it all began.” Taking part in the tour will help further her education in a way that will benefit both her and Breakside.

Cassandra Barlow comes to the group from the tap room/front of the house perspective, working for Resident Culture Brewing Company in Charlotte, NC. She was introduced to the Pink Boots Society while working as a part-time bartender and was initially intimidated about the prospect of being surrounded by much more experienced members of the industry. Her fears about having anything to offer were quickly dispelled upon attending the Society’s 10th Anniversary Conference. There she was particularly inspired by a presentation on tap room management, saying, “A light bulb went off; I realized that I had created my own loyal customers at the brewery I worked at and was a big part of our success.” Encouraged by this new found confidence she plans to take the knowledge gained on this trip to show other women, regardless of their current role, how important they are to the craft beer industry.

Hailing from an event planning/fundraising/civic education background Blair Elias works as a meeting planner for the National Barley Growers Association. An area of particular interest to her on this trip is the hyper-local Zoigl beer of Bavaria as it parallels the local marketing employed by many U.S. craft brewers. She says, “I am interested to see how Bavarian Zoigl brewers have sustained the “local” trend for so long. This knowledge would be invaluable to me as I continue my work as an advocate for the early stages of the U.S. beer supply chain.” Blair hopes to come back from the trip with a deeper understanding of the opportunities here at home by having been able to explore how German breweries have overcome similar struggles.

Grace Howard initially applied her environmental engineering degree to the areas of soil, groundwater, air and landfill management but says, “I fell in love with craft beer after my very first brewery tour and began homebrewing shortly after.” These days she is able to combine her background with that love in her current position as a laboratory assistant with Bone Up Brewing in Everett, MA and in the future hopes to develop products and technologies that and be used to make brewing easier, safer and more efficient. To that end she has been actively working to increase her knowledge and is looking forward to the tour providing an opportunity to “expedite my learning and provide an amazing chance to learn these things up close and in person.”  

Sara Lefevre is the co-founder of Barranco Beer Company in Lima, Peru and the communications and marketing manager. That’s quite a change from six years ago when she was working as a language teacher in Miami, FL planning and instructing international students. A self-described “craft beer lover, geek, and aficionado,” Sara is also a BJCP judge who has applied her multilingual skills to translating exams and score sheets. Taking part in the tour not only melds with her love of travel but will also provide her the opportunity to try classic styles from their region of origin and further develop her palate. She says, “The tastings, tours, and all of the experience I receive would also be applied directly and immediately to training the staff where I work and shared with my local PBS chapter.”

Betty Lopez understands first hand the challenges of breaking into the brewing industry but it has been worth the effort. “Brewing changed my life,” she says, “it gave a sense of purpose I wasn’t sure I’d find, it helped me find my place in the world professionally speaking and it made me grow as a human being.” Her break came when she found someone willing to give her a chance to learn on the job and she has since worked her way up from assistant brewer to brewer and has been the head brewer at Tres Fuegos Cerveceria for the past year. Experiencing traditional Bavarian beers in person on the tour will help her in the short term as Tres Fuegos looks to add a lager to their lineup and perhaps in the years to come through if she is able to achieve her goal of working at a German brewery.

Former software engineer Katarina Martinez left the corporate world a year ago and opened her own brewery – Lineup Brewing – which has the distinction of being the only solely female owned and operated brewery in New York City. Their German Pilsner, originally named Bieryonce, received a great deal of press, and ultimately a cease and desist letter, so these days the beer goes by the name “Katarina.” With the intention to make more German style beers in the future she says, “I feel that this trip to Germany will do wonders for expanding my knowledge base, improving my palate, and hopefully making new strong female friends in the industry that support one another.” Katarina was also given Wine Enthusiast’s 2018 “40 Under 40” award.

Diana McKenzie co-founded Callister Brewing in Vancouver, BC five years ago and it is the first co-working, collaborative brewery of its kind in Canada. As Director she handles many of the administrative aspects of the brewery and earlier this year expanded her brewing role, taking over management of their cask program. Their three cask engines generally pour Scottish and English beers but Diana hopes to incorporate some of the styles she will be exposed to on the tour. She says, “By learning about different techniques or styles and trends in other parts of the world, as a brewer and brewery owner, I can bring those lessons and innovations into our beers and brewing techniques at home.”

One of the most seasoned professionals on the tour, Becky Peppelman says that from the time she started cleaning kegs and working on the bottling line, “The more I learned on the particulars of craft beer, the greater my drive became to be a part of it. It was, and remains, a true passion and hunger for knowledge.” In recent years she has been drawn to historical styles of beer and has been able to use her role as Head Brewer at Snow Hop Brewery to produce styles, like the popular Grodziskie she made last year, that are not widely available in the U.S. This tour will add to her already accumulated knowledge and allow her to continue share more of the “exceptional characteristics” of beers of times past with her brewery’s craft beer audience.

A professional brewer for two and a half years, Ellen Sherrill’s experiences professionally and as a homebrewer have primarily involved ales. One of the aspects of this tour she is looking forward to is increasing her knowledge of lagers, “to observe and learn in person, as well as hear more about how modern techniques and tools are used to bypass traditional methods while still making the same tradition-honoring types of beers.” She brews on both the 30bbl and 7bbl systems at Track 7 Brewery in Sacramento, CA, leads the sensory panel that creates tasting notes for the marketing of their beers and is a BJCP judge. She looks forward to returning from the trip a more well-rounded brewer and a better beer judge. (Photo credit: Nikkita Miller)

Michelle Tham is employed by the largest of breweries in this group, Labatt Breweries, where she is the Head of Education. The Ontario, Canada native says, “Stories are my strength. Storytelling is where my breadth of knowledge and dynamic enthusiasm are brought to life, enabling my impact as an educator of beer and an ambassador for brands. Lucky for me, the roots of beer and brewing are found in stories – stories of history, tradition, geography and discovery. My effort to develop my career has been to seek stories and connections with people who brew and appreciate beer, and seeing the places that allow me to paint the picture for others to better understand the complexities and joy of beer.” She’s looking forward to being able to add a more robust understanding of German beer to her work as an educator as a result of going on the tour.

Nicki Werner, brewer at the mid-sized Left Hand Brewing Company in Longmont, CO, is excited to embark on her first trip abroad, especially in the company of the Pink Boots community. The former college professor says, “My teaching experiences left me frustrated and confined to old institutions that were bogged down in bureaucracies and incapable of adapting to a changing world with changing needs. What I found in brewing was an opportunity to build new types of institutions, and a lifestyle that was self-sustaining, both for the business and for myself on a personal level.” While her work environment is competitive it encourages her to strive for growth opportunities and she has found a great deal of support as a member of the Pink Boots Society.

In addition to attending the tour, each scholarship recipient will receive a pair of pink steel-toe rubber boots upon fulfilling the Pay It Forward requirement associated with the scholarship.

The eleven-day Beer, Brats and Beyond Cultural Exchange, a collaboration with Treasures of Europe Tours, will make stops at small and independent breweries located in towns such as Munich, Franken, Spalt and Niederbayern. It will highlight many women owned and/or operated breweries (Sister Doris, Meinel sisters), communal brewing traditions, new school craft producers and a few abbey breweries. The tasting sessions, tours and cultural events aim to deepen and enhance the participants’ knowledge of brewing traditions and technologies as well as dispel old stereotypes. In addition to the breweries, stops will be made at German hop farms in the heart of Hallertau where participants learn about the traditions of Noble hops.