Sometimes, when you speak a dream out loud, it manifests overnight. At least, that was the case for Mujeres Brew House in San Diego, a brick-and-mortar extension of the Mujeres Brew Club’s that will open at experimental art gallery Bread & Salt this fall. It is also set to become the first woman-owned brewery in San Diego.
“Being a Latina in the beer industry, there just isn’t that many of us,” says Carmen Favela, the co-owner of Border X and founder of Mujeres Brew Club. The club launched in 2019 at Border X Brewing’s Barrio Logan location and is hosted by Barrio Logan native and Indie Beer Show co-host Esthela Davila. In addition to featuring guest speakers and beer tastings, Mujeres Brew Club serves as a welcoming space where women—mujeres—and the Latinx community particularly (though anyone can participate) are invited to learn about craft beer. The club also provides access to resources and encouragement to pursue a career in craft beer.
When the coronavirus hit in March, Border X, like most businesses in San Diego County not categorized as essential, was ordered to close to align with a statewide stay home order. Mujeres Brew Club was in the middle of its second six-month series at Border X, which a number of members had already pre-paid for. In the following months, Carmen and team scrambled to find a creative way to continue bringing the series to its members. They ultimately nixed the idea of hosting virtual events. While “it can be done,” Carmen says, she didn’t think the online experience would translate across the club’s 50 members. Things were at an impasse, until one fateful conversation with Davila in June.
“What if we took over the Alta Brewing space?” Carmen mused, referencing the nearby taproom at Bread & Salt, which closed in late 2019. They shared a laugh at the whimsical thought, “and that was that,” Carmen says. Except Carmen’s husband David, co-owner of Border X, overheard them and quite literally overnight, whim became reality. A business plan was drafted and the deal came together in a manner of days. By this time, San Diego County announced businesses including bars, gyms, and hotels could reopen.
Flash forward to today, indoor dining and bars are once again closed due to rising coronavirus cases, and the Brew House team is parsing out how best to utilize the space before the taproom officially opens, all while adhering to public health orders. The team is exploring the idea of turning the outdoor space into an open-air, neighborhood hangout.
We’ve felt very welcomed by other women in the beer industry that have been there before us.”
Like Mujeres Brew Club’s mission, the ultimate goal of Mujeres Brew House is to help educate and empower its members and to “create a space where any female—maybe one who doesn’t drink craft beer—would be more inclined to learn more about it,” Carmen says. In terms of the beers that will be produced there, Carmen wants them to be expressions of the club's members. “If we’re able to just dig in, make some beer that represents all of us, and showcase the different palates of the girls to the industry and beer drinkers, that’s the ultimate goal of the space,” Carmen says.
Mujeres Brew House and its members will have complete creative freedom to brew beers that appeal to their palates, and more—from recipe development to brewing. In addition to its array of beers, the Brew House will also host consumer education events as well as create a job training program for women, according to David. Brew Club education events will cost $15 per session and include a Mujeres Brew Club-branded hat or t-shirt as well as a beer tasting by a guest brewery of the month. While the Brew House has yet to determine its brewing schedule and recipe selection process, once the taps begin pouring, non-members will be able to enjoy beers from the taproom.
As part of its rotating lineup of beers, Carmensays the Brew House will also plan to pour limited edition and collaboration beers. “There are so many ways to approach this,” Carmensays, though in this precarious economic climate, the team is prioritizing a crowdfunding campaign to get them through the year. They’re also awaiting official status as a non-profit organization, which would then allow them to become eligible for grants to help bolster the club’s mission. Through the support of Mujeres Brew Club, several of its members have already gone on to pursue careers at local breweries like Modern Times as well as to pursue Cicerone certification. “We’ve felt very welcomed by other women in the beer industry that have been there before us,” Carmen says. “We want to continue to learn and contribute to the diversity of the industry.”