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Women In Beer - Meet Reuben's Brews Grace Robbings and Liz Pfeiffer

March 5, 2024

In celebration of Women's History Month and Women In Beer, we continue with a highlight of craft beer bosses Grace Robbings, Co-Founder of Reuben's Brews and Liz Pfeiffer, Events Manager at Reuben's.

Wanna hear more from Grace and Liz? Snag tickets to our Women in Beer event on March 21! Check out the details!

What inspired you to start a brewery? 

My kids are my constant source of inspiration. We named the brewery after our firstborn, as my husband and I started homebrewing soon after Reuben was born. We sought a new hobby that we could do from home, and homebrewing allowed us to still enjoy delicious beer at a time when the thought of going out with a baby in tow was just too overwhelming. I feel like we were pulled into starting the brewery. 

We loved sharing our beer with others as we did at a semi-annual beer festival put on by the Phinney Neighborhood Association, and vowed to do it again and again. When homebrewers were no longer allowed to participate, and when bars and restaurants started asking how to get our beer on tap, we decided to take the plunge by opening our brewery. We try to instill in our children that they should follow their passions, and what better way to do that than by modeling for them by taking a big risk to do what we love looks like! 

Share a time when you felt particularly proud of your contributions as a woman in brewing?

This may sound like such a silly thing, but as I was walking into the office one day and looked out on the production floor, all I could see were women working. On the brew deck, in the cellar, lab, and packaging line. In my mind, I thought... who runs the world?! As we have compared ourselves to industry benchmarks (thanks to data from the Brewers Association) we have exceeded them in the proportion of women in nearly all areas of the brewery - from ownership, production work, production managers, sales, and other managers. In fact, the only area where we were below benchmark was in server roles - which might be the only roles that women are pigeonholed into at times. I am proud of our team that is diverse in many beautiful ways, not only gender. 

Can you tell us about a particularly memorable or challenging moment you've experienced while leading your brewery?

As I'm sure every business owner can attest, these past few years have provided enough challenging moments for a lifetime. At the very start of the pandemic, we didn't know exactly what the future brought - and little did we know that we'd be dealing with the ramifications for years to come - but we had built a solid foundation with a committed team, and we wanted to alleviate some of the uncertainty from their lives. When our taprooms had to close temporarily in March of 2020, we looked at our team and said, "we've got you." We didn't lay off or furlough anyone on our team, and we began to do the dance of pivot on pivot on pivot. To this day, that is my proudest accomplishment as a brewery owner. And it reminds me of another lesson I try to instill in my children - challenges and crises are wonderful opportunities to learn. 

How do you foster diversity and inclusivity within your team and customer base?

Fostering diversity and inclusion must be a mindset, not just an annual training that you passively sit through. Together with Métier Brewing Company, we have built a mentoring program for underrepresented groups in the brewing industry called the Mosaic State Brewers Collective. Our goal is to develop leaders in the brewing industry reflective of the nation's diversity - through one-on-one mentoring, hands-on apprenticeship, and management and leadership training. 

I learned from Dr. J Jackson-Beckham (Crafted for All) that just because you can't see a barrier it doesn't mean it's not there. One of the best ways for our customers to feel included in what we do is by having a team that reflects the customers we want to serve. We are always looking to hire the very best people and celebrate the diversity of our team. I am hoping that through the mentorship program, we will increase the number of folks of color and of underrepresented groups to see a path towards building a career in this great industry I love. 

As a woman founder, what advice would you give to encourage other women aspiring to enter the craft brewing industry?

It may sometimes feel like you're a woman in a man's game. But know that women are out there, working in every aspect of breweries. Find your support network. And most importantly, when you're able to do so, be that support for others and pay it forward. We're only here because of the greats who came before us - visionaries like Rose Ann Finkel, rock stars like Mari Kemper. Let's see where the next generation can go as they stand on our shoulders and reach heights that we can't even imagine now. 

If you could brew a beer with one unique superpower, what would it be and why?

Beer already has superpowers! Its greatest superpower is building community. But to stretch myself to think of a way to make beer even better... I would love it if all beers could come with a scratch and sniff card - to remind you of the aroma and flavor long after the beer is gone and more easily bring you back to the memory of where and with whom you were enjoying the beer.