Women executives lead six Chicagoland breweries

By Sally Ehrmann
Medill Reports

Chicago might be known for harsh winters, hot dogs, sports teams and deep dish pizza. But the city is becoming a hot spot for craft breweries as well.

A 2018 study from the Brewers Association found that the Chicago area led the nation in the number of breweries with 167 and counting, an honor owing to the proliferation of craft breweries across the metro area.

As Chicago builds that beer city status, those working in the industry see the town’s booming new industry as becoming more “diverse” while  “exploding,” said Emily Kwansy at Temperance Beer Co. in Evanston.

Part of the diversifying effect of growing a craft beer capitol is more exposure for people entering the industry from different backgrounds. That includes growing numbers of  women in all aspect of beer-making. Actual numbers of how many women work in the beer industry vary slightly according to the source, but a  2014 Auburn University study found that women already represented 29% of brewery workers.

In Chicago, women are present at every level of the brewing process, from operations to ownership to brewing to serving. Women in the industry come together through different networking events such as the Pink Boots Society, which aims to educate and bring women working in beer-making together. The Chicago chapter has about 300 followers on social media.

Since women are everywhere in Chicago’s beer industry, here are just a few of the craft breweries with female leaders. Each woman came to the brewing industry on a different path and holds a different role in their respective jobs today, but they all enjoyed mostly positive experiences working within the craft beer industry.

Photo at top: Craft beer is a billion dollar industry in the U.S. today. The rise in craft beer led to a rise in beer drinkers, especially women, and a huge increase in the number of breweries in the U.S. (Sally Ehrmann/MEDILL)