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Dec
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Cat Wiest
Living and Brewing in South America
Women In Beer
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My name is Megan Garrity, also known here in Lima as Greenga. It’s been almost 11 years since I got on a plane and traveled to Lima, Peru.  What had begun as a three week work trip turned into more than a decade of adventures! My coined nickname eventually grew into a new way of life as a Business Owner, Gypsy Brewer, BJCP Judge, Pink Booter, VP of the Peruvian Craft Beer Union, and who knows what next!  I’m excited to share my story, Craft Beer in Peru, and some of the amazing experiences and people I have met in my travels all over Latin America, representing Peruvian craft beer and as a BJCP Judge.

When I arrived in 2008 there were no craft breweries or craft options. In 2010 I came across my first experience with a Peruvian craft beer, an Inti Golden from Sierra Andina.  Yes, something that wasn’t an industrial Lager! Soon after I had an American Amber from Barbarian. With that, a light bulb clicked on. These guys were able to brew here, and that meant I could too!  I started googling and found a home brew class to get a refresher and access to materials. I could finally brew a beer I wanted to drink! When I started out I had not planned on taking the leap to becoming a professional brewer, but Greenga Brewing was officially launched in May of 2016.

Making the decision to go professional was scary.  Without easy access to further brewing education, I started to volunteer to brew with my friends in the industry.  I worked at a craft beer bar, and listened to consumers., I took BJCP to learn more about off flavors, their causes, and how to prevent them.  On the business side, we ran into problem after problem. Our original name was rejected, an investor fell through, and suppliers didn’t have a consistent supply of raw materials.  But my nickname Greenga fit perfectly, thus Greenga was born. Barbarian offered their brewery for gypsy brewing. As for sourcing consistent ingredients – I’ve flown from the US with several suitcases full of hops over the years!  Brewing in Latin America forces you to think outside of the box and come up with creative solutions since we don’t have easy access to raw materials. I wouldn’t trade it for anything! It’s fun to be a part of this movement where we are basically responsible for forming the craft beer scene while making sure it grows.

Craft beer in Peru is brand new; we like to say “esta en pañales” (it’s in diapers).  The difference from 2010 when I had my first craft until today, the end of 2018, is exciting to see.  We are in a huge growth spurt! Our craft customer four years ago would request one of two things, the lightest beer most similar to a Pilsen (local industrial lager), or the one with the highest ABV.  All the professional brewers and homebrewers have worked hard to educate our customers, bars, restaurants, and even bloggers so they better understand what they are drinking. Craft beer can now be found all over the country (not just in metropolitan centers), and we are becoming an important part of the gastronomy that Peru is well known for.  Today you can find 40+ professional breweries producing more than 1000lt monthly, 100+ members in the Homebrew Club, and more than 100 bars and restaurants that solely sell craft beer. We have been able to start brewing outside the standard of Blonde/Pale Ale, Red Ale, and IPA. We get to do some fun things and our customers are excited and receptive (although we may still be a few years away from them accepting sour beers)!  The market has grown enough that we just held our 3rd Peru competition with 240 entries!

My main goal when I studied to be a BJCP Judge was to improve as a brewer, I had no idea how much the world would open up!  I met brewers from all over the world, one in particular from the U.S. who asked me if I was in the Pink Boots Society. Since I don’t live in the US, I didn’t know who/what Pink Boots was or represented.  As soon at that first competition was over I immediately read everything about Pink Boots and signed up as a member. It was inspiring to find this community, and I wanted to bring this feeling to the amazing women I know here in Peru as well as across Latin America.  In 2018 PBS-Peru was launched and we have some very talented members. It’s impossible to list all their amazing skills and accomplishments but it’s safe to say women are a driving force in the growth of Craft in Peru.

In traveling as a judge, I have met and become great friends with incredible and talented women from all over.  I was able to brew with “Ceva das Minas”, the women’s brew group from Porto Allegre in November. The presence and support for women in the brew industry in Brazil is inspiring.  I also met and brewed with the founding members of Las Birreras, from Argentina, who have most recently brewed a collaboration beer with the proceeds going to end violence against women.  In July we held our 2nd women’s collaboration in Quito, Ecuador, and as a result the Brewsters EC was formed.  There are also the incredible women in Costa Rica who consistently collaborate and brew together.   We have a lot to offer, and from what I have seen the presence of women in beer will only continue to grow here.

Peru has presented me with the opportunity to enter into the brewing industry in a way I would have never experienced anywhere else.  I am excited to see where our industry will grow from here as well as the rest of Latin America. It hasn’t been the easiest path; living in another country, in another culture, and in general being away from everything familiar.  I wouldn’t change anything, and I’m looking forward to the future!

Megan is the founder and head brewer of Greenga Brewing (est 2016) located in Lima, peru.  She has travelled as a certified bjcp judge to the most prestigious beer competions in Latin America  She is the VP of the Union Cerveceros Artesanales Peru and has lead the effort to establish a Pink Boots Peru chapter, bringing together the top female Brewers in the nation.  Finally, she serves as the representative of the Communcation for Bloque Cervecero Latino America.