Elena Joy: [00:00:00] Welcome to Out of Queeriosity. Consider us your field guide for queer pride. You will hear from the best of the best in terms of queer business leaders, queer relationship experts, the activists working to protect us all, and everyday LGBTQ plus people that have figured a few things out. So you don't have to.
Out of Queeriosity is brought to you by the Pride and Joy Foundation. Let's do this.
Hello and welcome back to Out of Queeriosity. Queeriosity, the podcast for Pride and Joy Foundation. So excited to be here with the amazing leadership crew over at Borderlands Brewing. So we have Aila and Savannah here, and they are God, the leaders, the the lead brewers, the product head of production. They run it at Borderlands Brewing, which is down in Tucson.
So thank you so much for being here today, friends. [00:01:00] Thank you for
Ayla: having me. Thank you, Elena.
Elena Joy: So glad that you are here. If you would, I'd love to just kind of go through some introductions as far as kind of identities that we're bringing to the table for the conversation. So, my name is Elena Joy. My pronouns are she, her, and And how I'm identifying today.
I am a queer cisgender woman and I have a partner. I am a single mom. I am the first generation grad in my family, as well as I have a disability and I'm neurodivergent. Those are all the identities. I think I bring it to the table today. What about you? Can we start off of the Savannah? Yeah, so
Savannah: Savannah Saldate, my pronouns are also she, her for today.
I identify as a lesbian, as a queer woman, graduated from the U of A in Family Studies and Human Development, which was an awesome program for me. And, uh, yeah, I am representing the lead brewing role at Borderlands Brewing Company today. [00:02:00] Yes, thank
Elena Joy: you. And
Ayla: Ayla. My name is Ayla Kapai. I'm a queer cisgender woman.
I have a partner. I am first generation on my dad's side who my father is from India. I'm also half Mexican American. And, uh, yeah, just so excited to be here today and to talk about all the intersections of all the things. And yes, I am in charge of overseeing all of our production at Borderlands.
Elena Joy: Nice. So my experience of brewing goes back a few years, so I had just started speaking and I got hired to do a keynote for the National Pink Boots Society conference, which when I got the invite, I was like pink boots and I was thinking those red hat ladies.
You know what I mean? Like the older women who wear the crazy hats
and then I Googled [00:03:00] and I realized, no, it is the national association of women who run and are a huge part of breweries and fermentation, including wine now, I did all kinds of research and realized the reason they had invited me in to speak. To this group was because they were having the industry itself.
The brewing industry itself was having a real reckoning with what was happening with women and gender minorities in the brewing industry. And at the time, I think it was really focused on women. And I think now the conversation has expanded a bit, but I will tell you the number one thing I realized walking into that room of, I don't know, 200 plus women brewers.
It was basically 1992. I have never seen so many Doc Martens in my entire life. Everyone was pierced. Everyone was tatted. Everyone looked queer. I couldn't figure out who was straight and who wasn't. It was a [00:04:00] wild audience. And y'all are part of the Pink Boots Society. Does that kind of align with your experience there?
Ayla: awesome. I'm so glad you had that experience. Doesn't Pink Boots... Society. It makes you think like, are we going to the Kentucky Derby? And there's a meeting. We've got all these fancy hats and stuff like that. Honestly, I didn't know what to expect with my first pink boots get together either. That was about eight years ago.
And let us tell you the pink boot society has definitely really transformed. So the first time that I walked into a meeting, it was fantastic to see all of these women at a brewing conference. Who were involved in beer production or in a brewery in some way, nobody else for the, for the most part, the conference was dominated by, I'd say, at least 90 percent white men.
And now, 8 years ago, when I went to this meeting, however, I must tell you, [00:05:00] I did feel a little out of place. Actually, I felt a lot out of place because I looked around and I thought. I'm the only brown woman here and so I was like, huh, this is interesting. Okay. Okay. Let's see. So Savannah and I have been pink boots members for many years.
You know, there was a time in the beginning where we thought, you know, I don't know if we identify if we can relate to. The demographic of women who were in the pink boot society that was many years ago, but instead we decided, you know, either we could say we don't feel like. We're comfortable being part of this group authentically or.
Maybe we could start something of our own and ruffle the feathers and make the change that we want to see and that's the route that we took.
Elena Joy: That feels very important to [00:06:00] recognize that because I feel like as queer people and I would assume. As people of color, there are often spaces that we go to that we recognize quickly, this is not our space.
And in that moment, we have to decide and keep deciding, do we stick it out and educate and educate and speak up and speak up and be so visible in order to start those wheels of change coming for the people behind us? Or do we go start our own thing? So that we can be safe and that we don't have to have that emotional lift, but we can still get the networking and y'all decided to stay.
And it seems like it paid off. Were you worried at the beginning? Like, is this going to be in a heavy emotional lift for as long as remembers?
Ayla: Yeah, I think, you know, honestly, it took us years to decide. We were always Pink Foods members, but it took us years to decide, do we want to open our own local chapter?
And the answer, of course, to that was, well, yes, why wouldn't we try [00:07:00] that? Because we have already had such an incredible group of women, brewers, winemakers, distillers in Arizona and in Southern Arizona. And so we thought, you know. We, honestly, I think we felt like we couldn't not open it because there's such a, there's been such a need in our community to do it.
So I don't think either Savannah and I, or I were specifically setting out to help open the Pink Boots chapter of Southern Arizona, who was also co opened by our dear friend and colleague. Brooke Nelson, but we just felt that community and we're like, all right, we have been in our industry for a long time.
I think it's just a sense of responsibility to, to, to do that for our community.
Elena Joy: So you said that kind of started about eight years ago. So how long have you been leading the charge at Borderlands? Were those leadership skills kind of developed and landed you into that leadership role at Borderlands [00:08:00] or were you already there and you've been doing?
Both of these, the pink boots and the visibility and education and the organizing while you've been leaders of Borderlands, kind of a mix
Ayla: of both. The one thing about leadership, I think that happens very often is oftentimes leaders don't set out to be leaders. Sometimes leadership. Falls onto your lap, or you are filling this need.
And, you know, today, I think Savannah and I are very proud to say we are leaders in our community, but leadership for us years ago never started that way. So it really was just a mix. I started bringing with borderlands almost 6 years ago, Savannah 5 years ago, and We have just simultaneously had our hands in a lot of community projects.
So the leadership at borderlands certainly officially started 1st. But I think that unofficial [00:09:00] leadership role was happening for Savannah and I, even before we started at borderlands, we were already. Leading our community, our beer community and other ways. And so I think opening that nonprofit gave it formality, but there's a lot of informal leadership that happens
Elena Joy: to 100 percent especially when we have to grassroots organized, right?
Savannah, what were you going to
Savannah: say? I think to piggyback off of that, a lot of things happened organically just because of the people that we are and the women that we are. We both are Brown. We both are queer. So whether we meant to be leaders or not, a lot of it just organically kind of fruition into something that we were doing positively in the community in a way that we weren't assigned necessarily this leadership role.
But since people do vote with their dollar and people do enjoy craft beer, just seeing us in the community, I think, kind of propelled us into a leadership role on its own.
Elena Joy: The visibility right there can do it. There's [00:10:00] no doubt. And I feel like so many of my clients are leaders at work. Who happen to also be queer and they are often put into that role as well, right?
Whether it's a small business or a corporation, if you are visibly queer and fairly comfortable in talking about your experience, you're going to be called on to do it again and again and again. And eventually you're the ERG leader and then you're the DEI role, right? Like it just, it can really snowball.
And so I can see that how that could happen for you all. But I feel like we've skipped over such an important part that we need to come back to y'all. Brewing is like the bro world. Like it is so white and it is so male. How did you get into this? My
Savannah: experience was a little bit unique. I honestly didn't know what craft beer was 10 years ago.
I was very college. Bud light is what it is, you know, that type of thing. But I moved to Michigan for a [00:11:00] little while and the craft beer saturation there is absolutely incredible. And so it's hard to ignore it at all, really. But, um, I got really fascinated with it. So I started bartending and I started learning about craft beer.
And then when I came back to Tucson, I got the opportunity to work with female brewers, which not many people got their first opportunity for that. That wasn't necessarily their case for them. So I fortunately came into this industry in a really cushioned and comfortable way in that sense with my, with my, um, individual employers.
But yeah, I just, I stayed curious and I like the physical work. I like the creativity and I like the community. So I just stuck with it. And now, yeah, fast forward, uh, six, seven years and now brewing for Borderlands and loving every day.
Elena Joy: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Ayla, how'd you get into this? I had
Ayla: some homebrewing, uh, experience and background and, but that was always just a hobby.
You know, I never thought, Oh, [00:12:00] it's going to turn into a career. I was leaving a, uh, position in academia and wanted to do something new and different. I think that's just kind of the person I am every, uh, so often I get the urge to say, okay, let me see what I can do in this industry or, you know, make a difference here or there.
I really fell in love with the physical work and the fun, creative aspect of being able to tangibly make a product for someone and share it with them and allow them to enjoy it in whatever capacity. I'm a big foodie. I love food and drink. I love hosting friends and family at my house because there's just something really special about getting together and chatting with folks over food and drink.
And I think when we think back to our historic roots of how food and drink has been, is [00:13:00] used in culture and community and bonding, it just, I don't know, it just makes so much sense. Beer has that very historical root, right? It has been brewed for. Thousands of years. In fact, women were the first brewers on this planet.
That was one of their jobs, even in ancient times. A lot of folks don't realize that and we have gone throughout stages of history where women have continued to be the main brewers. But we've gotten away from that in the last 100 years. It really brings me such joy to Produce a product that brings people together for a lot of different reasons.
That's why Savannah and I work on a lot of different passion projects, as we call them in the beer industry.
Elena Joy: Yes. Yes. The sense of community is absolutely incredible. And I think just a great example of that is just a tap house. It is different from a bar. You will find kids at a tap house and you will find whole families and there will [00:14:00] be games and.
It's just a different vibe. And I think that that's really what taps into that sense of community and connection that I think really draws an incredible amount of people and incredible group of people. So in speaking with you and talking about your experiences, it's really reminiscent to me of clients that I have specifically one.
So there 700 employees. And they recently with their ERG leader. revamped their policy and manual around gender identity to make sure it's very inclusive of the gender diverse community, that they feel safe, that transitions are figured out, right? Like they undertook a huge project. It turned out really well.
It's had really great benefits. And now there are other like conferences within the industry are asking them to come. Present on how they did this, right? And they are in the middle of kind of pondering that there's 1 side of the ERG leader saying. [00:15:00] Hey, I want to be known for my work. I don't know that I want to be known for this, this one part of my identity, right?
And then you also have the company that's saying, we're so glad we did this, but our shareholders going to be concerned that if we take this so public, it could be bad for business, right? So we have those two things kind of happening at the same time. And I'm wondering if that maybe came up for you as you.
You are being known, you are known in the area as the all women production crew of Borderlands and you are queer and you're open about it. And do you also wrestle with kind of some of those topics, both is this what I'm attaching to myself as who I am out in public, as well as, is this good for the business?
Ayla: Absolutely. In fact, honestly, it took us years. To figure out how to navigate that as leaders in business and leaders in our craft. [00:16:00] So when we first realized just the organic nature of our all women's beer production team, also all ethnic minorities and queer women and everything. We didn't know if we should talk about it or how, if we decided that we wanted to, and that took us years, we thought it was cool to it.
Cool. Because we were, we're proud. We're proud that, oh my gosh, there are women who are doing this. We haven't seen something like this in our industry in years. Years. And it, it was honestly really a struggle because again, the question was one. Should we talk about it and 2 if we're going to how, what do we say?
Is it going to be seen as marketing strategy or, you know, we just really didn't know how it was going to be perceived. And I think what honestly. Made that so and unfortunately difficult for us was [00:17:00] we did hear from people in the community who said, no, you shouldn't use your identities to help sell your beer or your brand, which we make the very clear distinction.
We don't. Right. You go on to the Borderlands website. It doesn't say any of that, but it is known about our brand because of the projects that we participate in that support gender minorities, ethnic minorities, and women in other countries. And the last thing I'll say is the funny thing is. The only people we heard backlash from about that.
Were cisgender white men who were saying. Why do you have to advertise that you're women? Why do you have to advertise these things? I don't care if a woman brews my beer or not. I just want a good beer. And, but that sticks with you for so long, for so many years when I finally realized. Wait a second.
Who's actually telling us this message? Oh, [00:18:00] it's not people in our community who are supporting us. And so it took a long time to get those negative voices out of our heads and be our authentic
Elena Joy: selves. Okay, you've, you've literally given me the most amazing comeback to these executive suites who are telling me this could be bad for business.
And now I can say, who's saying that? Like, who is telling you that? Because I'm betting it's one very specific group of people. So thank you very much, Ayla.
Ayla: Oh, you are so welcome, Poulos. I do have a PowerPoint on this. I have given talks at, uh, The women at different women's organizations, uh, truly about why diversity is good for business.
And there's data to back it up because we are data driven folks.
Elena Joy: So, right. I love that. We have that in common. Savannah, what do you think about your, your journey into figuring out how you're integrating your identity [00:19:00] with your leadership, with your career? Yeah,
Savannah: I mean, I will just to just to add to what Elo is saying, I think that it's become very apparent in advertising and businesses lately.
The performative allyship is very different than actual support and where you're where we are as a company is that we want to support the things we care about. So it doesn't have to be queer. But the intention is that that's okay. If it is, it doesn't have to be brown, but it's okay if it is. So these things that when people ask why, first of all, my question is always, why not?
Because I'm just that type of person, but also it doesn't have to be all or nothing. It doesn't have to be 1 thing or another. We can be inclusive in many different avenues in many different ways. As long as our intention comes from a good place, I think, and I'll steal this from the Tucson LGBT Chamber of Commerce, inclusive business is good business.
That's their entire motto. And they have nothing but facts on facts on facts to [00:20:00] support that. And we just want to be on an intentional level with what we're doing and in that way. Everything, everyone is included as long as you're productive and not being on inclusive,
Elena Joy: right? And I'm not productive, right?
It's amazing how there's such a direct line between inclusivity and productivity, like direct path. Right. And thank you so much for your comments because they very much tied into where I think is so powerful to go. So many industries. Brewing included have this concept of we need to focus on the, the gap for women, we need to get women on par.
How can we close this gap? The pay gap, the equity, like all the gaps, right? And when I come to them and say. We need to talk about inclusion for everyone, all genders and their responses. But what we haven't figured out, we [00:21:00] need to do, we're not ready for that. We need to do women first and to re to be able to respond with, we have been pursuing women's equity for decades and have not gotten any closer because.
It is not intersectional. We will never achieve women's equity until we have achieved all gender equity. Right. And, and I see it where I'm shocked to see it play out is in the brewing industry, how they, because it is so, it is so queer, like, let's just be real. It is very queer. And yet they're still focused on women's equity and not queer inclusive gender minority equity.
What are your thoughts on that?
Savannah: I think a hundred percent, everything that you're saying, it does need to be everyone. There's no reason to categorize things the way that we did hundreds of years ago. I don't think that's the way through. I think that that's more of a roadblock than anything, but [00:22:00] thinking about queer business and going back to the last point about, is it good for business to know that?
I think it is. I don't think everything has to be political. I don't think everyone is right or wrong. People have their opinion. So having this. Pay disalignment. It needs to, like you're saying, I think it needs to be everyone. We can solve this by just putting everyone on the same platform with the same chances, rather than subdividing groups and choosing who's most worthy, who's most important.
What needs to come next? We just, we need a baseline and that needs to be everyone.
Ayla: When I hear about this topic, I just don't know how to address it because I don't know how to disentangle my own identities that are all mixed. So many of us have multiple identities. How can [00:23:00] we be asked to pick and choose, well, my gender identity comes first or my sexual orientation identity comes first.
It just, it's so hard for me to piece that out. So. I don't, I, I, I don't know. I like that. That's not the best answer, but it's really just how can we be expected to piece all those pieces out? I don't think we can. And as time moves forward, those intersections are going to become increasingly
Elena Joy: common so much.
So it really is. I mean, just looking at the stats of Gen Z and where it's going with the future of our workforce, those intersections are. Dominant, right? And yes, how do I show up somewhere in a space for women without bringing my queer self, right? How do I show up somewhere in the space for queer people and not bring my disability, right?
Like, how? That is not our day to day life [00:24:00] experience. And so we have to find that nuance there and, and yet at the same time, like I want to be seen as my queer self and I want to be seen as with my disability. Right. So yeah, there's a lot of balancing there. Absolutely. Explore with me for a little bit.
What are your, I have to ask this. What are your families think about y'all being in brewing? Like, was this a family thing or are they like, okay, you're gay and you're brewing?
Ayla: Yeah, so with my family, both sides, both my Mexican and Indian side. Didn't know what craft beer was at all. So the main thing is my family was telling me things like, what do you mean?
A six pack costs more than 8. Like, what do you mean? Right. That's, that's not what we bring to family barbecues. That's not, no way. It's Tecate light, Bud light. And if you bring anything else, that's pretentious, [00:25:00] right? Who's paying for, you know, 12 four packs. Gosh, honestly, when I say that, that's honestly the less expensive for this time for this period in time.
But even back then, they're thinking there's no way in heck we're doing that. So. Long story short, for me, there were, it, there were a lot of struggles with my own personal identity of feeling like, wait a second, this doesn't align maybe with my family's cultural values, partly it just being an alcohol production, right, producing an alcoholic product, creating a product that's expensive.
You know, 7 8 pints. Not everybody can afford that. And so looking at socioeconomic status from that way too. But I will tell you, basically a decade later, my family is very, very supportive. They, they love craft beer. [00:26:00] I'll never forget a call that I got from my dad years ago who said, Ayla, have you ever had this experience?
Yeah. And I said, Oh, IPA and IPA and he goes, I just had one and it's like the equivalent of four butt lights. Oh my gosh. It's, it's a strong one. Be careful. And he's like, wow, it's so delicious. And he called me in the, like, I just, I was, I was totally unexpecting his call. I get a random part of the day and that memory will always stick with me.
Same with, I've had family from India. Visit our brewery and they were skeptical at first. A lot of them don't consume alcohol and so they did get to sniff some of the beers like our horchata cream ale and German chocolate cake porter and they they loved it and they really understood the science, the passion, uh, the engineering that goes into everything.
So. It took me a long time to kind of [00:27:00] get there, but it's been a wonderful journey. And yeah, again, still just a lot of different things for us to think about in our industry.
Savannah: I think for me, it was semi the same journey. My parents were of the belief that beer is made in one day. Absolutely no idea of the process.
Absolutely no idea what craft beer, what goes into it, the labor, the, the raw ingredients, all these things, especially on such a smaller scale, like everything is so automated when you go to large, really, really big, like the Anheuser bushes and things. So I don't think that my parents understood how physical and how actually creative and artistic it was.
It was never. A thought in my mind, so I was, of course, expected to go to college, I think, and did that. And then, yeah, I didn't really know exactly what I wanted to do. So luckily I have a very supportive family. They love it. Now they are obsessed with the fact [00:28:00] that, um, breweries are such a thing and so saturated now, and I've learned a lot about it, but I think I fulfilled some of the academic stuff.
And now I'm just kind of, they just kind of realized that I, I appreciate my job and I appreciate specifically my job at Borderlands because of the freedom. It allows Ayla and I to do things that we actually, that we care about in a, in a impactful and intentional way. So they're, they're on my side, a hundred percent.
Elena Joy: I love that. I love that, that they've all found ways to learn a little more about it, connect with it a little bit so that they can connect with you, which is that is what it's supposed to be. That's wonderful. You know, as you were talking about your experiences of getting into the industry, it reminded me of.
Different passions that I've had and how they've changed the way I interact with the world. I was a professional photographer for 10 years, and it very much affected the way I see light. And it still does, even though I don't do that anymore. Right? And now I'm a fly fisher and it very much has [00:29:00] impacted the way I see the world.
Our ecosystem, like I know if the bugs are healthy, that water is healthy and that fish is healthy and, and, and right. The ripple effect of that. And I'm guessing that brewing has affected how you interact with the world, maybe with how you smell the air or the different tastes that you have. I'd love to know how has brewing kind of impacted your senses in a way.
Ayla: It's definitely open them up. Savannah and I very frequently conduct sensory analysis, uh, like panels basically to make sure that our product is coming out consistently and up to par for where we want it to be. The sensory journey, which anyone can do this. I'm going to give you, give you all some tips for becoming more beer.
Wine doesn't even have to be an alcohol, but just foodie connoisseurs, your senses. [00:30:00] There's not just one thing, right? Elena, you were talking about your sight and vision in that way. There's so many aspects to it. So we believe that it. In order to be good at tasting your craft, you have to kind of awaken all of your senses.
So whether that's, you know, I'm mindfully sitting here in our office, but I can kind of hear maybe the train go by, and I'm just going to let that be or anytime we taste food. I try to do this unless I'm starving and I just wolf my food down. But I try to take a moment to slowly, mindfully chew my food and see, okay, like, what do I taste?
What do I taste in these? in this pasta sauce? Can I pick out the ingredients? Honestly, for me, being a foodie, when I go out somewhere and I'm like, Oh my gosh, this food is so good. I want to make it at home. I'm really determined to like, pick out what I think they're using in there. But really any of those senses, whether you're a coffee drinker or anything, just awakening all [00:31:00] sorts of your senses are going to help in any capacity.
And Everybody senses and perceives these different things differently, right? For example, most folks have different spiciness thresholds. What I think is spicy may not be spicy at all to somebody else. The same exists in your senses with beer, right? So we do have to recognize that there's a lot of subjectivity in it.
There are no wrong answers at all. And most importantly, the one thing I always Tell folks to answer for themselves when they're picking a part of beer or wine or something as I just say, did you like it? Did you enjoy it? Because at the end of the day, sure, you could pick out all the different flavor components or off flavors, but did you enjoy what you were eating or drinking?
Did you like it? Yeah, I agree
Savannah: with Ayla. Everyone's palate is different. So sensory wise for me, what comes to mind that I [00:32:00] probably wouldn't have known aside from the taste and the aromas and the mouth feels like I know what 176 degree water feels like. Every single time, or I know how much 500 grams feels in a beer can things that are just so abstract and obscure to my position and my only position, things like that is just, it's always so funny to me to to bring that into my everyday life.
And I'm like, oh, that I don't know. That feels like a low field. Just something that is very unique to to the everyday job that I do. And I think that that expands into the sensory of. Of tap rooms as well, because you get a sense of where you're at. You can tell there's some tap rooms that I enjoy being in.
There are some tap rooms that I don't enjoy being in. So I think that also my senses lead me into places where I feel comfortable, places where I enjoy being. And if, if I sense that it's not a vibe that I align with, for lack of a better way to put it, then, you know, I think it extends as far as even that.
So I have definitely had my [00:33:00] eyes. Here's everything open to new, new sensory analysis and sensory exposure.
Elena Joy: Absolutely. I love that. Almost every time I speak, the questions that come up at the end, there's often someone asking the question, you know, you had to rebuild an entirely new community within the queer community.
How did you do that? I need to build my community. And I'm like, Oh my gosh, everyone apparently needs to build their community because the question is always asked. And now my answer has frequently been understand what you like and chase it. And there you will find your community. And I think about like that within the foodie community or within the brewing community, like really get very real with yourself about what lights you up, what makes your tongue happy, like all of it.
And pursue that and be there and be authentic in it. And I 100 percent of the time, it attracts your people. It attracts your community. [00:34:00] And so I love that now we have this very open and accessible way to do that through brewing and, and the mindfulness that it takes to create those senses. I just love it.
I love it. Well, I'd really love to wrap up our conversation with kind of how we met, because I'd like to explore how we got, how you all got into that. So we were connected through mutual friends, and I've found out through you that you were doing a workshop day and that you'd like me to come down and I spoke about leadership.
And that's basically all I knew when I got there. I realized it was this amazing workshop day for women and gender minorities that were learning brewing tips, and many of them were from Mexico, and I'll tell you what, that was such an amazing experience for me that I must have talked about it for weeks afterwards, and one of my favorite things ever was watching people's reactions when [00:35:00] I would say, I got to teach leadership skills to people.
Thank you. Women brewers from Mexico and people's responses are like, what? It's not even within their realm of reality that that would exist, let alone that they would be in Tucson having a leadership workshop with me. So will you tell me a little bit more about what that organization is, what you're doing with it, its impact?
Tell me all the
Ayla: things. Well, Savannah, since you made the connection, why don't you take it away and introduce. Yeah,
Elena Joy: so we,
Savannah: we got your information again from the LGBT, uh, Tucson Chamber of Commerce, which I was so happy to, um, connect with you, Ayla and I were really deciding on this pride beer donation and yeah, connecting with you has been amazing.
The project that you're referring to is called Las Hermanas. It's an annual project that we do with, uh, women brewers from the United [00:36:00] States and also women brewers from all over Mexico. Basically, the project is we. Create a beer. We create a recipe, make a beer on both sides of the border. So we'll make a beer at the Borderlands Brewing Production Facility and we will make a beer somewhere in Mexico.
So far it's been Monterey, uh, Mexico City. We'll be in Guadalajara next month. So yeah, it's, it was a project that really started without much knowledge of what it was going to turn into and how it was going to end, if it was going to end, if it was going to continue. And um, I always say it's my favorite project of the year.
Ayla can probably speak better about to the actual day that you attended and, uh, what, what all that's about. She organizes everything that has to do with that, so I'll leave it to you.
Elena Joy: Yeah, we
Ayla: really threw you in with the wolves, Elena.
Elena Joy: It was fun. It was so fun.
Ayla: Yeah, well, I guess we... Uh, we're supposed to tell you is that you were attending our historic Las Hermanas brew day [00:37:00] in which we had, I think on that day, we had about almost 50 women brewers from both sides of the U.
S. Mexico border, uh, to attend our facility. And yes. Every year we get to, we connect with over 125 women between the U. S. and Mexico. These are other women brewers and we brew the same beer on both sides of the border and we travel to each other's respective brewing facilities. That's what really makes this collaboration special, is being able to travel and get that full immersive experience.
One thing that we like to tell folks is, you know, I think when folks hear about this project, they think, Oh, look at those nice American girls going down to Mexico and teaching them how to brew. And we made sure that from year one, this is our third year completing the project, that that is not at [00:38:00] all the situation here.
In fact, When Savannah and I first traveled to Monterey in Mexico, which is just south of Texas in 2019, we met all of these women brewers and we realized in our conversations with them, they had master's degrees in brewing sciences. A lot of them completed internships throughout Europe, including Belgium and Germany.
We were thinking, Oh, my goodness. This is not very common in the U. S. And it really became us flipping the dialogue to get folks in the United States to understand that we have so much to learn from Mexico's craft beer industry. Now, because of the, uh Laws and taxes that are put on Mexican craft beer. It is very difficult to get those brews here.
It's stateside That's why we're seeing mass produced Mexican beers and that's kind [00:39:00] of the the stereotype that people have of Mexican beer those stereotypes couldn't be further from the truth throughout the last Three years, there's just been so much that our professional industry has learned from the techniques and the culture of Mexican brewers all throughout Mexico.
So we really try to get folks to understand that bit and like Savannah said, we didn't know what to expect from pursuing this beer project a few years ago, but it turns out that it really has turned into this wonderful sisterhood and. Community where at any given time we can text or WhatsApp or email our colleagues all throughout Mexico, all throughout the U.
S., um, just to ask for advice or just to ask for someone to listen to us and that's It's really been the, the heart of the project is everything else that happens outside of the brew day. The brew day is [00:40:00] really just a symbolic gesture in a way, right, of leadership on both sides of the board are coming together, but there's so much more that goes on for the connection of that project beyond the actual brew day.
When we set out this project in 2019, remember that was a very turbulent political time for the U. S. and Mexico. So for Savannah and I, it was extremely important to show solidarity with our Mexican colleagues.
Elena Joy: I love that again, that intersectionality and one of my favorite parts of that day was as I started speaking to the group and it became clear about my queer identity, three or four of them, their eyes just lit up.
I, I'm assuming they weren't prepared to know that I was a lesbian and just seeing the excitement, [00:41:00] but also relief. And then the engagement, right, then they were all in and they were ready to learn and it was just beautiful. It was so beautiful. And it just reminds me that queerness is in every culture.
It's in every industry, every culture, every age bracket, every socioeconomic bracket, right? It is. It is a significant part of the population everywhere, and it is, I don't know, it's starting to feel like that thing that I could connect with every culture through that. And that feels really good. Thank you.
And I'd like to wrap up with our last question, which is, if you could speak to the 21 year old version of yourself, what would you tell her?
Ayla: I'm glad you asked this question. I think the number one thing I would say is you're enough, you're [00:42:00] doing enough. I know you're scared, but you have the courage and the power to pave your own path and to just listen to your authentic self and keep going.
And you know, actually, this is a, the practice that I've been doing with myself in general is going back to My younger self, if I could and be able to say these things and show compassion for my younger self and kind of, I think for, for forgive myself for whether it was times of feeling like, Oh, I should have spoken up, but I didn't, or I had this power and I didn't use it or why was I so afraid to just, I don't know, just have the courage to stand up for myself.
And I've spent too much of my life. [00:43:00] Feeling bad about that. And now I find myself going back to my younger self. If I could have a conversation with her and just say, you know, it's okay. And you did the best you could at the time. I
Elena Joy: think
Savannah: for me, if I could tell myself anything at 21, I think it'd be to be more patient, be more patient with myself, be more patient with others.
I've always kind of lived in a very. Intense fast forward style life and I think that the older I get and the more patient I am, the more that I allow other people into my life, the more that I allow myself to be myself and it just feels better to enjoy a moment rather than thinking about what's coming after that or what happened before that.
I think that. Throughout my life, 21 and now included, I think being patient is probably something that can be the most kind thing that I do for myself and for other [00:44:00] people.
Elena Joy: yes, I definitely, when I am being interviewed and I'm asked a question similar to that, and I get done answering, I often feel like, oh, and that's probably what my future self is trying to tell me right now.
There it is.
Ayla: Exactly. And let's see, I would also tell my 21 year old self, please don't drink as much as you are. Be a little more responsible. Be a little more responsible. Yes, yes, yes. Be compassionate,
Elena Joy: but. Develop those senses a little slower.
Ayla: Yes, develop those a little slower. Um, because, I mean, presently, I, I, I still.
I drink alcohol, but I don't drink that often. And that's something for me. I don't know if it's because maybe that was something I was doing more when I was 21 or maybe it's just a product of, you know, when you're in your 30s and mid 30s, it's how you can't, you know, couple beers [00:45:00] gives you. Quite a headache the next day, but whatever the factors are, yeah, I have been very interested in the non alcoholic realm as well.
And what's great is we've seen that a lot in our industry too, is the need for that. So
Elena Joy: I agree. I have been seeing that more and more and I love that that is, it's creating space. I mean, I think as every state legalizes marijuana, it is creating space in the alcohol industry at large, which I think is awesome.
We get to be inclusive, even of the things we like to indulge in, and I love that.
Savannah: I think to kind of bring it full circle with the queerness of this podcast, me being patient, I think I had a similar interaction with the women from Mexico. It wasn't forceful. I don't ask people if they're queer. I don't ask people.
Yeah. Their sexuality is or who their partners are, but just being patient and allowing people space and safe space has brought a lot of women to us in a [00:46:00] lot of unique ways, telling us about their queer lives about their partners. So, I think that that. Is something that is unique to this project as well is that there are so many women that are queer, but they're also comfortable talking about it because we're creating these spaces that allow them to do so.
Elena Joy: We are creating the spaces that allow them to do so that right there. Uh, thank you. Okay. I have to tell this awesome story that came from the day with you and I haven't been able to tell it yet. And it's. Perfect for right now. We're going to wrap this up. So there we were, we did the workshop with all the women.
It was absolutely incredible. And we met that night at a tap room at the borderlands tap room and enjoyed a great evening together. And while we're all standing there chatting and they're getting to know my partner, and it was very fun. One of them says to me. Oh my gosh, you listen to young Miko, right?
And I'm like, I've never heard of young Miko. Who is this? And they say, Oh, she's the [00:47:00] lesbian in our world. Like you need to go listen to her. So I get home and it's a few days later and I tell Alexa to turn on young Miko and it's a fabulous beat. And I'm having a blast in my kitchen and my girlfriend who speaks Spanish.
Walks into the kitchen and is like, what are you listening to? I'm like, Oh, those ladies remember they told me it's young. I don't understand the word, but it's she's fabulous. And Kristen's like, maybe you want to Google the YouTube video with the English lyrics and find out what you're listening to. And so started my descent into trying to decide if I was the rude.
person, or is that just straight white men? Because the words, the words are the same, but I like them coming out of her mouth. It is always that existential crisis.
Ayla: Yes. I think this has happened to Savannah and I many times with, when we're traveling throughout Mexico [00:48:00] and we, hear new artists and songs and we bring it back.
And at the time we're there, you know, like Spanish is being spoken so quickly that we don't catch everything. And we bring it back here and we're blaring our music and folks, you know, tell us, um, you may want to turn that down a little bit or maybe not play that in public. Or we go, Oh, really? And, uh, Yes.
Yes, indeed. And we were a bit shocked, to say the least, about some of the lyrics translation. Yeah. And then even the women in Mexico, they said, Hey, we weren't supposed to play that just, you know, at the brewery in public, like in your production facility. And I'm like, but the beat is so fun.
Elena Joy: It's so fun.
It's so fun. I will put links in the show notes. You all need to experience the fun that is young Miko. I'm glad that
Savannah: we have now shared this experience in one way or another with the women from
Elena Joy: Mexico. So true. Oh my gosh, Savannah and Ayla, thank you so much for joining us here today. [00:49:00] Where should people reach out if they want to learn more about your brewing or about the project or Pink Boots?
Where do you want them to go?
Ayla: The Borderlands Instagram is the number one place where we post what we're up to. We have a borderlandsbring. com website as well, which is keeps you updated and a Facebook page. But yeah, that Instagram and Facebook, we're always updating it with our community projects and what's going on.
Elena Joy: And you all are doing so much like there's not going to be room for all the links for all the things that these amazing women are into. So thank you for your leadership. Thank you for your visibility. And thank you for sharing your voices with us.