This article is a part of our inaugural Next Wave Awards. For the full list of 2021 winners, check out the whole series here.

Breeze Galindo left her job as assistant brewer at Indie Brewing Co. in Los Angeles on July 27, 2019 and began training at Other Half Brewing on July 29. “I waste no time,” Galindo says of the 48-hour life change. A few months later, the pandemic hit New York City hard, leaving her with no roommates, no friends, no family, “and a majority of coworkers married or living with their girlfriends,” she says. “Loneliness was a very big thing. It was a very scary time.”

The daily grind of 10-hour shifts and “going to work and going home and literally nothing else” wore on and kept her busy, but as summer came to a close and a long Covid winter loomed ahead, Galindo knew she had to do something. She had a hunch: “It’s so cliché to say you’re not alone, but I know there are women out there who can relate,” she says. She found herself asking, “How many other women brewers, or cellar women, or bartenders are going through this right now?”

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In September 2020, Galindo began formulating plans for an event “where women can come together and talk openly and with confidence” about their experiences as brewers or other beer industry members. Her experiences at Indie Brewing Company and the Pink Boots Society Los Angeles chapter, along with support from Other Half COO and co-owner Andrew Berman, helped her prepare for the months ahead. Once everything from the event’s name to its goals and graphic designer were decided on, Galindo launched the Other Half Women’s Forum in May 2021.

It wasn’t exactly expected of the infamous IPA brewery. “Other Half has a very dude-ish vibe,” Galindo admits. “The women’s forum is like a bat signal. It catches your attention.”

The OHWF has hosted monthly events at Other Half Domino Park on the Williamsburg waterfront, featuring speakers from L.A.’s Three Weavers; NYC’s KCBC and Grimm; and North Carolina’s Burial Beer Co. Discussions led by Galindo have focused on sexism and racism in the workplace, front-of-house challenges during the pandemic, and the upcoming session on the Brave Noise collaboration. (The next OHWF event will feature Other Half HR director Leah Riegel and Other Half Finger Lakes brewer Katie McNeal.)

By day, Galindo is still working 10-hour shifts and spends a majority of her time “being very dedicated to my skill, my career, which is brewing,” she says. She’s also a board member of the Michael James Jackson Foundation and is working on a mentorship project there. But she takes her role as Other Half Women’s Forum creator just as seriously.

“It’s a big responsibility on my end,” Galindo says, and she meets with potential speakers “two, three, or even four times” before each event, talking through personal stories they might be willing to share in a safe space. Once the theme is agreed on, she tells speakers “it’s up to you to decide what you’re comfortable talking about,” she says. “There’s a mic in your hand. What’s the message you’d like to share?”