Three Weavers Brewmaster Alexandra Nowell hosts a tasting party to help other women break into the industry
By Christina Campodonico (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Picture a brewmaster and a brawny man with a beard likely comes to mind.
The Pink Boots Society wants to make sure that more women are able to join the ranks of the booming but still vastly male-dominated craft brewing industry.
On Monday, the organization of women beer professionals takes over the tasting room of the Three Weavers Brewing Company in Inglewood to raise funds for the Pink Boots Society’s Scholarship Fund.
Nearly 20 beers from local and regional brew houses such as El Segundo Brewing Co., Eagle Rock Brewery, Monkish, Noble Ale Works, Phantom Carriage, Smog City, Drake’s Brewing Co., Stone Brewing and Coronado Brewing Co. are on tap for a special fundraising menu that includes six pours for $30 and a commemorative Three Weavers beer glass.
All proceeds fund opportunities — courses, training, stipends and study — for women to develop and enhance their skills in making beer.
The cause is especially near and dear to Three Weavers Brewmaster and Pink Boots Society L.A. Chapter President Alexandra Nowell, one of just a handful of female brewmasters in California.
Like a lot of young women, Nowell, 31, never really thought about becoming a professional beer maker, but taking a college course in brewing science encouraged her to pursue the unlikely career path.
“My professor pretty much laid it out for me: ‘It’s not very high-paying work and it’s definitely a lot of labor, but if this is something you’re really interested in you should maybe try to pursue a career in brewing,’” says Nowell. “And I was like, ‘You know, I never really thought about it. But I really love everything — the art and the science and the practice behind brewing,’ and so I gave it a shot.”
This leap into the world of craft brewing landed Nowell an internship at the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Chico. Then she cut her teeth in the Bay Area at Moylan’s Brewing Co., where she got her “hands dirty” labeling and packaging bottles, unloading and cleaning kegs, and scrubbing out moldy drains.
“It was several years before I even stepped foot on a brew deck,” Nowell says.
But her big break came when Drake’s Brewing Co. in San Leandro hired her as a brewer.
“They showed me everything,” she says. “I really learned the ropes there.”
From there Nowell went on to become head brewer at Kinetic Brewing in Lancaster, also participating in Monday’s event.
In 2014, Nowell teamed up with Lynn Weaver to found Three Weavers — instantly making her the first and only female brewmaster of the Greater Los Angeles craft beer scene.
Nowell has since proven she knows her malt and hops. In recent years, she’s won two medals at the Great American Beer Festival and a gold medal at the World Beer Cup Gold for “Blood Junkie,” her popular imperial red ale.
With 10 house-brewed beers on tap at any given time, Nowell holds her own in the hops race with a variety of popular IPAs but expands drinkers’ palates with alternatives such as her LAX-inspired Midnight Flight imperial stout (exceptionally smooth, considering its 9.5% alcohol content), easy drinking Seafarer Kölsch and surprisingly rich Southbounder Coffee Stout.
Despite her own success, Nowell believes that the brewing industry still has a long way to go to achieve gender parity, mainly because of traditional gender expectations for women and assumptions about the nature of brewery work.
“It probably takes more time for a woman to gain respect in the industry then it does a man,” she says. “A mid-30s white man with a beard — you look at him and you’re like, ‘Oh yeah, he must know what he’s doing.’ People would look at me and they don’t assume that because I like to wear dresses and heels and makeup that I can also get really dirty in the brewery.”
The crowds who regularly gather at Three Weavers prove that Nowell knows exactly what she’s doing — whether you’re talking about hard work or crafting a perfectly hoppy Expatriate IPA.
The Pink Boots Society Scholarship Fundraiser is from 4 to 9 p.m. Monday, June 20. $30 for six pours. Purchase tickets in advance online.
Three Weavers Brewing Co., 1031 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood (310) 400-5830 threeweavers.la