On July 1, 2020, the Mujeres Brew Club in San Diego will open the first Latinx women-founded and women-led community brewing space, educational facility, and taproom dedicated to empowering people of all backgrounds, specifically focusing on women of color in the craft beer industry. According to co-founders Carmen Favela and Esthela Davila, Mujeres Brew House will be managed by women and for women with the intent of breaking down barriers of entry into the beer scene.
In 2019, the Brewers Association confirmed what beer drinkers already knew: The craft beer industry is overwhelmingly white and male-dominated. That same year, Favela and Davila launched the Mujeres Brew Club in San Diego’s Barrio Logan neighborhood, a historically Hispanic community where 80 percent of residents claim to be of Hispanic descent. Barrio Logan is also home to a handful of independent craft breweries — notably Border X, which Carmen and husband David Favela launched in 2013. The area’s first and arguably most iconic brewery has served as the home base for Mujeres Brew Club since 2019.
HISTORY OF MUJERES
Mujeres Brew Club (MBC) is a monthly beer education group primarily geared toward women (although its founders remain adamant that it’s a space for everyone). Meetings are held at both Border X’s Barrio Logan location as well as at its satellite location in Los Angeles. Unlike the Pink Boots Society, there are no annual dues and attendees are not required to be employed by the beer industry; rather, it’s a gateway for activating people to learn about the local beer scene without judgement or conditions for participation.
Since its inception last year, MBC has cultivated an inclusive community and provided a safe space to learn about beer and connect with other women and beer fans through guided tastings, seminars, and conversation with other members. But once Covid-19 hit and the group continued to grow, “we outgrew Border X,” explains Davila. During a recent conversation with Carmen, she offhandedly commented that the now-empty brewhouse that used to house Alta Brewing in Barrio Logan might be a good place for Mujeres to expand. By the end of the day, the Favelas had completed a business plan and shared it with the owners of the building, Bread & Salt.
“From the literal first whisper of ‘what if…’ to signed contract, it was maybe a little more than 24 hours,” says Carmen Favela in an email to VinePair.
Despite the accelerated timeframe, Davila and the Favelas crystallized their vision to capture what they saw as an unmissable opportunity. Border X will assume management, maintenance, and costs of the facility while giving Mujeres “complete freedom to define the beer program, the use of customer space, the decor, [and] the events,” according to David Favela. The Favelas also pledged to provide a percentage of all sales to fund Mujeres’ training programs and special events.
A NEW (AND NECESSARY) CONCEPT
This initiative will be the first of its kind for San Diego beer, if not craft beer as a whole. The city’s proximity to Mexico (downtown San Diego is located approximately 14 miles north of the border) has allowed cross-border collaborations and influence to thrive. But despite profiting from these culturally rich assets, San Diego’s 150-plus breweries, as in the rest of the United States, remain largely white male-owned and operated. The vision behind Mujeres Brew House is about providing balance to this skewed community.
“This industry is going to see this and say ‘this makes sense’,” Carmen Favela continues. “Breweries are going to want to support this and collaborate with us, and they should want to.”
The primary goals of the space include: educating consumers on beer history, ingredients, styles, brewing process, and industry; building a platform to provide job training on brewing beer, serving beer, selling beer, marketing beer, and on how to run a successful brewery; and creating an inclusive space for learning, supporting, networking, and growing as a community.
David Favela sees this project not just as another brewery, but a chance to vigorously amplify a currently marginalized point of view for the betterment of the entire beer industry. “By empowering the Mujeres Brew House team,” he says, “we are giving voice and opportunity to create something unique and incredibly special — because we believe in diversity, we believe in the American dream that when all voices are given space, our lives are enriched.”
BREWERIES: TAKE NOTE
Mujeres Brew House could serve as a template for other craft beer businesses seeking ways to improve inclusion and equity without preying on the neighborhoods that surround them. It will require a two-pronged approach: building a new community as well as dismantling barriers that have prevented entry.
“We do not believe the craft beer industry is overtly racist or misogynistic,” explain the Favelas in an email to VinePair. “It is, however, an extension of a pre-existing power structure that has been in place for decades, if not the history of our country. … [I]s it that minorities don’t want to start successful businesses or don’t like craft beer? No. The issue was that minorities felt unwelcomed in what is a traditionally Euro-centric tradition that required huge amounts of capital to succeed.”
As a native of Barrio Logan — “I could crawl to my mom’s house a block away if I needed to,” jokes Davila — she hopes this project will provide a haven for all people craving community, connection, and career opportunities, even during Covid-19. The trio admits they’re winging it a bit, but once open, they believe the results will speak for themselves.
“It’s the beginning of something amazing,” promises Carmen. “This is for all of us.”
Photo: Esthela Davila (l) and Carmen Favela hold the keys to Mujeres Brew House in late June 2020. The brewery taproom and community space will open to the public on July 1, 2020.