DENVER — Women are once again gaining a strong foothold in the beer industry. Two special events centered around ladies and their experiences were held in the days surrounding the Great American Beer Festival recently.

A seminar focusing on the marketing of beer to women was brought to town by Ginger Johnson, founder and owner of Women Enjoying Beer.

Since 2008, Johnson and her team have been exploring the question of “why aren’t more women enjoying beer?”

Over 50% of the global population is female. Women in the United States make 75-80% of the purchasing decisions, yet “only 30% of women who drink alcohol choose beer, compared to 70% of men in the same category.”

The group met at Black Shirt Brewing Company to learn how breweries and pubs can capture beer sales to women appropriately. “This isn’t about pinkifying, that’s pandering and ridiculous,” said Johnson. “[Regarding your women customers], don’t label her as female, identify her simply as a customer and market to her brain not her body.

“There is an assumption that women know nothing about beer, and a reverse assumption that men automatically drink beer,” said Johnson. “Give education on your product and they’ll go with it.”

Encouraging women to enjoy beer drinking experiences can be achieved by understanding that many are also caregivers. Make sure she’s comfortable, make food available, and have a clean environment, explains Johnson. “Cleanliness is above godliness, women will notice because many are caregivers.”

You can learn more about Women Enjoying Beer and what they can do for your business at

In addition to Women Enjoying Beer’s presence at the Festival, Mountain Sun’s Vine Street Pub hosted a meeting of the Pink Boots Society. President Teri Fahrendorf led the day’s speakers with a presentation on the status of women in the brewing world.

“In my lifetime we won’t reach the goal of 50 percent [of jobs in the industry] — that’s up to you and the next generation,” she told the group.

The keynote speaker was Natalie Cilurzo, co-owner of Russian River Brewing Company. Cilurzo spoke of the real struggles involved in taking over the beer brand from Korbel in 2002 and building it up from the brewery’s grand re-opening in 2004. She shared the financial and personal issues they’ve faced, giving a realistic idea of what it took to succeed.

“We finally paid off the last of our investors this year,” Cirluzo said, pointing out they couldn’t have made it without the support of many.

To be a member, the women of the Pink Boots Society must earn at least part of their income from beer; either by brewing, serving, selling or writing about it. More information can be found at


Photography: Steph Harding

Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery