Women Brewing Change: Jessica Alten’s Journey with Pink Boots Collaborative

by Patricia Schallert

Jessica Alten’s journey into the world of brewing began at Island Brewing Company in Carpinteria, where she started working. It was during a visit from her parents, particularly her father who had years of experience at Nestlé Purina, that she became intrigued by the manufacturing side of beer. With a newfound interest in brewing, Jessica began asking questions and delving deeper into the craft. Her passion skyrocketed when she had the opportunity to collaborate with the brewers and owners of Island Brewing as part of the Pink Boots Collaborative.

Jessica joined the Pink Boots Collaborative, an inspiring and vibrant community within the beer industry that brings together women who are passionate about brewing and promoting quality craft beer. Founded in 2007 by Teri Fahrendorf, a veteran brewmaster, the collaborative hosts events, workshops, and networking opportunities for women in brewing. Through this initiative, Jessica and many other women have come together to brew unique beers using hops generously donated by hop producers. These collaboration brews celebrate the talents of women in brewing while raising awareness about their crucial role in the industry.

The Pink Boots Collaborative has played a pivotal role in encouraging diversity and inclusivity within the beer industry, an aspect that Jessica finds particularly important. By offering a supportive and creative community, the Pink Boots collaboration has helped elevate the voices and talents of women brewers worldwide. It has also shattered barriers and served as an inspiration for future generations of women to pursue their dreams in the beer world. Additionally, the collaborative organizes “Brew Days” at local breweries, providing hands-on experience and educational opportunities for members.

As Jessica’s experience and knowledge in brewing expanded, she was given the opportunity to assist in opening the tasting room for Ojai Valley Brewing. Eager to learn more about the brewing process, she shadowed the brewers and developed a deep fascination with the craft. Determined to explore the various aspects of brewing, she seized the chance to work at M. Special Brew Co. Starting from the bottom, Jessica steadily worked her way up to becoming an assistant brewer. With the guidance and support of the head brewer, Michael Alcantar, and owner, Josh Ellis, she honed her skills and growth as a brewer.

After two years at M. Special Brew Co., Jessica, now a brewer, moved to Ventura and began working at Seaward Brewing in January 2024. What captivates her the most about brewing is the chemistry involved, especially in the “hot side” of the process. She emphasizes the importance of precise timing and temperature control, comparing it to the precision of baking. Interacting with patrons and discussing beers brings her immense satisfaction as well, and she cherishes compliments for the beers she crafts.

Being a woman brewer, Jessica has faced her share of challenges. Some men, for unexplainable reasons, doubt her abilities as a brewer. She often encounters skepticism and questioning at beer festivals regarding her role and brewing knowledge. Nevertheless, she remains dedicated to her craft, preferring to keep her beer traditional and straightforward. However, when it comes to making seltzers, she especially enjoys experimenting with different flavors and embraces the spicy notes of rye malt, which complement dark malty beers and IPAs.

Currently, Seaward Brewing is gearing up for the X Games in Ventura, which will take place from June 28 to 30. Jessica is thrilled about this event and has crafted a pilsner called the White Knuckle Pilsner with a motocross theme, which will be perfect for a hot day at the X Games. She also hopes to collaborate with Balcom Canyon Cidery, located nearby, to create a shandy-style cider-beer hybrid. Exciting endeavors lie ahead for Jessica and Seaward Brewing!

Becoming a skilled and accomplished brewer requires time, dedication, and a constant drive for improvement. Jessica is continuously honing her skills, experimenting with new brews, and staying passionate about the craft. Cheers to Jessica and her unwavering dedication to the art of brewing!

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