International Women's Day 2024

Karen Elizabeth Vaca Ruiz, part of the Las Hermanas' Project and Beer Production Engineer at Cervecería Cielito Lindo, on increased representation for women and more women collectives to support budding brewers and distillers

Que. What interested you in a career in the brewing and distilling industry?

Karen: I was interested because it involves a lot of biological processes and various unit operations, to transform raw materials such as cereals into such complex beverages with unique organoleptic profiles.


Que. What were some of the challenges you faced in the beginning and how have things changed?

Karen: One of the main challenges I faced was that access to information about the brewing process, or beer styles, was more scarce. Nowadays there are a lot of courses, workshops and a lot more dissemination of technical, scientific and cultural information about beer. 

I was also confronted with the fact that more men were involved in the industry, and many of them were very closed, even with some macho attitudes, believing that women should not be involved in breweries and even less in the process. However, every day it is more common to see more women involved in this industry, in any area of the process; in production, in administration, in logistics etc... every day we see a more united and equitable industry and we see better support networks to achieve the growth of the brewing industry.


Que. How has the community supported you along the way?

Karen: When I entered the world of brewing, I didn't feel much support from my colleagues, but now I feel that I have a lot of support. Several projects have been created, such "Las Hermanas", who, through the sale of beer, seek to continue supporting women to become professionals, and I was awarded a scholarship to study at the IBD to obtain general certification in beer. 


Que. Tell us about a significant moment in your career.

Karen: When I started brewing beer I started home brewing in my garage and a competition (ProAm) was organised, I entered the two styles I was brewing (a stout and a red ale), to get feedback and see what I could improve. To my surprise the stout won a medal in that competition, which filled me with joy and a lot of inspiration to continue to develop myself in the beer industry.


Que. What would you say to a young woman who wants to start a career in the beverage industry?

Karen: I would tell her to follow her dreams, there is no better way to achieve them than by being disciplined. She should approach the support networks that exist today, such as some women's beer collectives, where we can help her to solve her doubts and give her recommendations to grow together professionally.