Laura Boada, Founder of Zambo Creek Microcervecería, an All-Female Brewery in Ecuador
To Laura Boada, it’s clear that women play leading roles in breweries all over the world. As the founder and brewmaster of Zambo Creek Microcervecería, an all-female brewery in Quito, Ecuador, Boada is one of those women. “Maybe the expectation from some consumers is that the good beer, strong beer, creative beer, should be more related with men, but really there [isn’t] any difference—just good beer from good people.” Boada recently finished an apprenticeship with Fremont Brewing in Seattle, sponsored by a scholarship from the Pink Boots Society (PBS), a non-profit group that advocates for women beer industry professionals. Now, she’s implementing what she learned at Zambo Creek to advance Ecuador’s brewing economy and the status of women in the international beer scene.
The global beer industry is still predominantly male. Do you see this changing in the future?
Of course I see this changing in the future. In the US, in my experience, there is more recognition of women in the beer industry. I think that PBS [has] an important role in this. I had the opportunity to get to know Teri Fahrendorf, the PBS founder. […] She traveled around the US and listened to many stories from women in this industry. Maybe some of these women didn’t see their labor recognized, and this is the reason for creating PBS—to make [their work] visible [and] exchange stories, experiences, and knowledge around the world.
What are some of the differences between brewing at Zambo Creek and brewing at Fremont?
The main difference was in volume of production per batch. Fremont Brewing produces, in the large facility, an average of 80 to 240 barrels per batch. At Zambo Creek, we make an average of 2 barrels per batch. Also in the use of hops—at Zambo Creek, we try to use less hops, because in Ecuador we don’t grow hops. [Instead,] we want to enhance the aromas and flavors with yeasts. [Our] Belgian Saison Papaya is a good example.
What challenges are involved in getting your raw materials from local farmers in Ecuador rather than importing them?
I think that the microbreweries and government should support the peasants and farmers growing barley and wheat, especially with brewing [accounting for] the growing industry. This is difficult, because we are importing almost all the wheat for domestic consumption. But it is also necessary to improve the systems for malting these raw materials. Despite that, we have [other] crops that brewers are using now in their recipes, like guayusa (a tea leaf from the Amazon), purple corn, cacao beans, coffee, etc. […] This also can support [local] agriculture by creating alliances for growing, not just brewing more local beer.
To what extent do you see brewing as a way of creating change in the world?
In relation to women’s empowerment, for us it is very important to be part of the Pink Boots Society, and [creating change] has been part of the benefits of their apprenticeship [program]. I think that education is one of the most interesting ways to empower women.
In the food and beverage industry, we have the possibility to connect with many consumers and [advocate] for responsible and sustainable consumption. But we also have the ability to connect to producers, and support and promote their sustainability, and, in general, to support the local economy. ■