Many of the top craft breweries in St. Louis have women behind the tanks, including Troy Bedik of The Civil Life Brewing Co. Earlier this year, alongside Johanna Foege of Perennial Artisan Ales, Bedik co-founded the St. Louis chapter of the Pink Boots Society, a national organization for professional women in brewing.
Pink Boots Society St. Louis hosts meetings on the third Monday of every other month and always incorporates an educational presentation, such as draft-line troubleshooting or unconventional flavors in beer. Through Pink Boots, Bedik and Foege hope to create a space that provides women in the brewing industry with the skills and support they need to excel and thrive.
How did you first get involved with Pink Boots? I’ve known about them for a few years; they’ve been pretty established in the [national] industry. Back in 2016, I won a [Pink Boots] scholarship to an online brewing course at the Siebel Institute of Technology [an acclaimed brewing school in Chicago]. A component of winning the scholarship was to give back and show what you learned by giving a presentation, writing a paper or speaking in front of a group. I learned so much about brewing, and I thought about starting a chapter [in St. Louis], and around January enough people had come together and there was enough interest to move forward.
What do you personally hope to get out of Pink Boots? My personal goal is to just give the women who are in the St. Louis brewing industry – or just the general beer community – the skills and power to go back to the workplace and be as confident as they can be. I think having a safe space where you can explore what you know, what you don’t know, having a place to speak to other people, to ask questions and get those answers without feeling judged, without feeling [that] because you’re a woman you don’t want to ask these questions because you don’t want anyone to think less of you by asking them. It just gives you space to get the skills that you need to go back to your place of employment and be better – to crush it and continue to grow professionally.
What's your ultimate goal with Pink Boots? I think I will be successful when the first question people want to ask me [isn't], “What’s it like being a lady brewer?” [Instead,] people will ask me [first], “How did you design this recipe? How did you come up with this idea for this beer?” Getting known for my brewing work and technical skills, rather than for the fact that I’m a woman in the beer industry. And I will always be happy to talk about that, and to address it, but I don’t want it to be the first thing that people see, you know?
What advice do you have for women who are new to the industry? The most important thing is putting yourself out there [and] meeting as many people as you can. Talk to professional brewers, and definitely start homebrewing. There are some wonderful homebrew clubs in St. Louis. The OG, which Abbey Spencer from Third Wheel [Brewing Co. in St. Peters, Missouri,] started, is a great resource for women homebrew clubs. Go out and taste as much as you can. Once you can unpack why you don’t like something, that’s a really helpful step in being able to speak intelligently about beer. We’ll be at some festivals [this summer] with a table, and we’ll mark our member brewers, so that’ll be a good way to spot a member. I’m sure anyone will be happy to give you a chat and show you what everything’s about – and remind you that being a brewer is just a glorified janitor!
Pink Boots Society St. Louis, facebook.com/pinkbootssocietystl