Lindsey Baker has done it all at Rio Bravo Brewing, working in almost every job there is in both the front and back of house.
Now, though, the spotlight is squarely on the young brewer, all thanks to the Pink Boots Society’s New Mexico chapter. Pink Boots, which promotes and supports women in craft brewing, tasked Baker with creating the recipe for this year’s collaboration beer, Golden Girls, which debuts today (Monday) in cans and on draft at multiple breweries in the Albuquerque and Santa Fe areas.
Golden Girls, a Belgian golden strong ale, was brewed a few weeks ago at Rio Bravo. It will be the first significant beer release for Baker in her career as a brewer.
“Well, I started in the front of house, and I was up there for a year and a half before I moved to the back,” Baker said. “Our assistant brewer, John Drummer, got another job in Phoenix, so he was moving out, and just by association I was forced to help with canning, but I also thought it would be fun. I had helped occasionally when they were busy.
“I was also managing in the front. I started as a server, but within three months, there was a management changeover, and I got volunteered to start managing. I’ve been working in the industry, not here, but when I was living in Arizona and other places. And so, they had me go back there. I was working with the packaging and I kind of liked it. I started staying a little bit longer. I decided I stopped liking being in the front of house (with) too many people. I liked being able to work at my own pace.”
Baker is the daughter of Rio Bravo owners Randy and Denise Baker, but she has earned her role at the brewery, even if at first she was willing to admit that she did not know the finite details of brewing.
“I’ve always loved beer,” she said. “I figured out when I got back there, oh, this actually isn’t too shoddy. And then I realized I should have paid way more attention in science (classes), but it’s been a fun learning experience. I’ve always had the appreciation of beer, but I really didn’t start appreciating how cool it is, all the different styles, until probably two years ago. And then, I fell in love. I’m like, oh, my gosh, you can get so creative.
“It’s funny, my sister does the marketing here. She does the art on the outside of the can, and I do the art on the inside of the can. I help with what’s inside, and it’s what’s inside that counts.”
Baker worked hard to earn the trust and respect of head brewer Ty Levis and director of brewing operations Austin Giorgetta.
“It’s probably only the last six months that I’ve been studying more,” Baker said. “I was new, I didn’t really know everything. Now I’m finally at the point where they’re going to give me a little more slack, let me come up with a recipe. They’ve let me do a few recipes on my own now. I’m so excited about this one (Golden Girls).”
When Rio Bravo was selected as the brewing location, Pink Boots chapter president Jess Griego, of Bosque Brewing, called upon Baker to create the recipe.
“Actually, I was sitting at the bar and I had the Kona Golden Ale,” Baker said. “I had already spent about a week-and-a-half trying to pinpoint what kind of style I wanted to make. Jess was like, all right, you kind of spearhead this one and come up with the style. I was like, oh shit, what am I going to make? This was the first beer where I feel like it’s my premier as a brewer. No one knows who I am or that I brew until this beer. Now all these places are going to carry a beer that I brew. I hope it doesn’t taste like shit, because all these people would think I don’t know what I’m doing. But, I know it’s going to be good.”
Essential Pie, the 2020 collaboration beer, was a sweet, fruited sour that was brewed at Canteen just before the pandemic hit. Baker said she wanted to steer this year’s recipe away from being adjunct heavy.
“I wasn’t going to make a little beer,” she said. “It was going to be 8-percent (ABV). I knew I wanted to do a golden ale. I like the show Golden Girls, that name was perfect, since it was brewed by a bunch of women. I actually got my inspiration from a Duvel from Ty. I took the beer tasting course for my Cicerone (level) one with Nick Jones. One of the projects was you have to pick one of your favorite beers and bring it in for a food pairing. I was talking to Ty, what do I pick, I’m so stressed. He said you should just do a Duvel and pair it with dark chocolate. I said OK, that sounds good to me. Him and I have always liked that beer. When I told him I wanted to do a golden ale, I also asked him what about a Belgian golden. I wanted to do a golden strong Duvel mimic, and he was just for it. Him and Austin helped me with everything.”
Baker said about 30 women from breweries around the state showed up. Pink Boots is open to any woman working in craft beer, whether they are brewers, servers, managers, or any other role.
“I know at first, Ty was a little hesitant for the Pink Boots beer to be brewed here,” Baker said. “We did the second one in the state here like six years ago, and only four women showed up. So he was a little nervous about that. I told him (the New Mexico chapter) had grown significantly. Just in my friends that I’ve made, I’ll make sure they show up. It was so cool, because almost 30 women showed up. It was a really fun experience.”
Baker had previously hosted her fellow women at a chapter meeting in 2019. There was no brewing involved that day, but Baker did have something to show the others.
“My first chapter meeting, it was back in 2019, and a lot of the women said they wished they knew how to drive a forklift,” she said. “It was awkward, I’m the (least experienced) by … a lot. I can teach you guys how to do it! My dad with his construction and electrician background, he knows a lot of people. He’s good friends with the guys at Frank’s Supply, and that’s where he made me get certified, even before I was brewing. Then I can do it when no one else is here. It was kind of fun.”
Baker has worked almost every job at the brewery, save for the kitchen, she said. As to why she thinks more women do not pursue jobs on the brewing side, Baker said she could not pinpoint any particular reason.
“I think there’s a lot of factors,” she said. “Definitely one, I know a lot of women don’t like beer, the crazy ones, at least. Maybe it’s because a lot of them don’t love beer that much, but also I don’t think they realize (jobs are available). There’s not a lot of women in the construction industry, there’s not a lot of women in the plumbing industry. Women didn’t have a lot of opportunities to be in those industries until the last 20 years. I think it’s still becoming more well known, but it’s crazy even the last couple years how big the Pink Boots Society has grown, just our chapter.”
Baker said she still meets people who are surprised that she is a brewer.
“I think people just don’t know, but also there’s an idea that a lot of brewers have to have big bears, overalls, flannels,” she said. “You see a lot of those, but then people meet me and go, you’re one of the brewers? Yup, I’ve got my steel toed boots on, and my overalls. I go drop off beer and they go, you can drive a forklift. Yes, I can.”
Everyone can enjoy Golden Girls this week on draft or in cans, and do remember that the supply is limited as it has been split up between 13 breweries. Those breweries, in alphabetical order, are Bosque, Brew Lab 101 (draft only), Canteen, Ex Novo, Gravity Bound, Red Door, Rio Bravo, Santa Fe, Second Street, Sidetrack, Steel Bender, Thirsty (draft only), and Tractor.
A big thanks to Lindsey for taking the time to sit down and chat, and a big congratulations to her and all the women of the Pink Boots Society for this year’s collaboration beer.
Keep supporting local!