Brewing industry not just a boys’ club
“Final gravity” is the amount of sugar dissolved in a solution.
Craft beer made up 12.8 percent of beer sales in the U.S. in 2015. (Brewers Association)
Overall U.S. beer market sales in 2015 amounted to $105.9 billion. (Brewers Association)
Craft beer market sales in 2015 were $22.3 billion. (Brewers Association)
Although breweries and taprooms seem to be opening in more communities every year, it may be difficult for women to break into the craft beer industry.
Members of the Pink Boots Society – an organization dedicated to helping women in and into the craft beer industry – took over Final Gravity, a Roseville taproom, Sept. 22 to bring awareness of their group to Placer County. Final Gravity is located at 9205 Sierra College Boulevard in Roseville.
Lindsey Nelson, a member of the Pink Boots Society and organizer of the Final Gravity event, said her group provides networking and educational opportunities for women interested in the burgeoning field.
“It seems like there is a new brewery opening up around here every weekend,” Nelson said. “There is a beer for everyone out there. People are so passionate about it. It’s a cool industry.”
Nelson said the Final Gravity takeover was designed to introduce the Pink Boots Society to Placer County, following the Sacramento chapter’s first meeting in August.
“Our goal, as a whole, is to advance the education of women in the brewing industry,” Nelson said. “Women can get confidence from other women and it’s fun to see women networking.”
She added that there’s a huge chapter in the Bay Area, and the local one is trying to capture the whole Northern California region.
“We want to be a resource for women in the industry,” Nelson said. “Eventually we want to get big enough to offer local scholarships.”
Face of the Chapter
Kayla Brogna, president of the Sacramento Chapter of the Pink Boots Society and a brewer technician with Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, said she has homebrewed for several years and has always been interested in science and chemistry.
“In my mid-20s I got tired of working at my desk and decided to pursue my hobby,” said Brogna, a Rancho Cordova native. “I applied as a packaging assistant at Trumer Brewery in Berkeley. I spent the first couple of months cleaning and washing kegs before they moved me to brewer.”
Brogna said she received training in bottling, packaging, filtration and brewing.
“I worked at Trumer for a couple of years and I was ready for a change,” Brogna said. “Now I’ve been at Sierra Nevada for a little over a year.”
The craft beer scene in the Sacramento region is quite a bit different than in the Bay Area, Brogna said.
“In the Bay Area you get a lot of tourists who are specifically there for the beer,” Brogna said. “Here, people are still learning. At Trumer I used to work a lot of festivals and events; at Sierra Nevada there is quite a bit more production.
“What’s nice about the Pink Boots Society is I get to visit new breweries,” Brogna added. “In the Sacramento region there is more of a community feel, and I expect a better beer scene will develop here than the Bay Area.”
Brogna said it can be intimidating for women to step away from a traditional career and into brewing.
“Just do it – you won’t regret it,” Brogna said of women contemplating a career switch. “There is a huge network of women to support you. One of the nice things about the Pink Boot Society is, I’ve met women who are hesitant and just need a little push.”
Amy Ruthnick, owner of Final Gravity in Roseville and Auburn with her husband Kyle, said years of experience in the food and beverage industry, combined with a passion for craft beer, led to opening the Roseville taproom four years ago.
“Business is awesome, Roseville has been very supportive,” Ruthnick said. “We modeled this after a place we would want to go and hang out at for a couple of hours.”
Ruthnick said that, during the Pink Boots takeover, $1 from every pint sold would be donated to the society’s educational fund. She added she and her husband sell beer only at their dog-friendly taprooms.
“We leave the hard work to the perfectionists; we do not brew our own beer,” Ruthnick said. “We have 26 taps in Roseville and 20 in Auburn. All bottles can be purchased for here or to go.”
Ruthnick said she plans to have more Pink Boot Society events.
“It’s a great organization,” Ruthnick said. “No other group is trying to do as many educational courses as this group.”
One of the breweries that can be found at Final Gravity is Auburn’s Crooked Lane. Teresa Psuty, owner and brewer at Crooked Lane, attended last week’s event at Final Gravity.
“I’ve been brewing for about four years and we opened our brewery three weeks ago,” Psuty said. “My husband is an excellent home-brewer and self-taught scientist. But I do the lion’s share of the brewing.”
Psuty, a Newcastle resident, said she naturally fell into the role of brewer.
“I’m a chemist by training,” Psuty said. “I appreciate perfecting the process; it’s very satisfying. A brewer has to open their palate to a lot of different flavors.”
Crooked Lane is located at 536 Grass Valley Highway.
“Our location was originally a movie theater,” Psuty said. “Our location is helpful – we are set up on a major thoroughfare in a commercial zone, and a lot of brewers are tucked away in industrial areas.”