Assistant brewers Amy Ratzlaff from Waconia Brewing Company and Kendra Gephart from Enki Brewing Company collaborated on Feb. 15, and will collaborate again on International Women’s Day on March 8th, as a part of Pink Boots’ Collaboration Brew Day initiative. This organization aims to bring women in the male-dominated brewing industry together to uplift one another and bring visibility to women in brewing.
As a result of their collaborations, Gephart created a new raspberry saison brew for Enki Brewing Company on Feb. 15 with the assistance of Ratzlaff, and on March 8th the pair will make Ratzlaff’s new white IPA brew for Waconia Brewing Company.
The unique brews that these two women collaborated to make at each other’s breweries will be released in part as a fundraiser for Pink Boots Society. Additionally, Waconia Brewing Company Co-Owner Dee DeLange says that they will also be selling a Red Xtinguisher pale ale to raise money for the Waconia Fire Relief Fund beginning Feb. 28.
“Pink Boots’ goal is to assist, inspire, and educate women in the brewing industry, because I want to say it’s less than 25 percent of everybody involved in the industry are women. And so they’re really trying to support each other and so they have different chapters all around the world actually,” says Ratzlaff. “The whole purpose of the Pink Boots is to uplift other women who are in the brewing industry.”
Ratzlaff has been with Waconia Brewing Company for about two years. She came in as an assistant canner due to her background in that field, but she soon worked her way up to an assistant brewer. She says it was a few of her male co-workers who introduced her to the Pink Boots organization and suggested that she might enjoy taking part in this collaboration brew day with a fellow female brewer in the area.
Working in a male-dominated field can be intimidating for some women, but Ratzlaff has been doing it for many years, first as a canner in the cheese industry, and now as a brewer in the brewing industry, and her advice to other women is, “Don’t be afraid to get involved and if you want to pursue it then go for it.”
She adds, “Find something you really enjoy doing and work hard at it. My coworkers at Waconia Brewing Company and the industry itself have been more than welcoming to me as a woman, but I’d love to see more woman working in the brewing industry!”
Gephart is new to the industry and began working at Enki Brewing Company in August of 2018. Before that she was in school for brewing at Dakota County Technical College. She says she was drawn to the industry because of her love for craft beer. “I’ve always loved craft beer and always just thought it would be a really fun job. And it is, it’s a lot of fun. It allows me to be creative and just have fun,” says Gephart.
According to Gephart, one of the main roadblocks to women entering new industries is visibility. “There’s not a large number of women working in the industry so it’s definitely important to highlight us because we’re part of it in all sorts of different facets from working in the tap room to being in the office or on the brewery floor so it’s important to say hey, we’re here too.”
She adds, “I think the hardest thing is just knowing that there are opportunities out there. So the Pink Boots Society and the collaboration brew day is to help show that there are opportunities out there for women if they’re interested.”
For women who are interested in entering the field, Gephart says, “Go to school for it, network, get involved with the organizations that help support women through brewing and you’ll just be determined you’ll get there.”