I Want to Make Sure It Stays What It Is: A Kind, Safe Space

Kate Christensen couldn’t find an online space to connect with other women who love craft beer — so she created it.

After moving to a new city and leaving her old job behind, Kate Christensen found a way to channel her love for craft beer and passion for community-building into a thriving endeavor: Beer&Body Craft Beer Girls.

The WordPress.com-powered hub (and online shop) brings together women from across all 50 states, and has seen rapid growth — 19,000 members and counting — over the first two years of its existence. We wanted to learn more about the community’s origins and the plans for its future, and caught up with Kate — between meetups, workouts, and tastings — to hear her story.

Kate’s craft-beer journey began at home

I’ve always been a beer girl. My dad loved Great Lakes Brewing — I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, so it was right there — and he would always keep some in the house. I’d come home from college and that’s what we would enjoy together. When I turned 21 it was November, and the Christmas Ale came out — that was my first encounter with craft beer. I started drinking that and I got into seasonal beers. It’s something I still enjoy doing with my family.

And after that, I had a reputation as a beer girl. People knew that I wanted to drink different beers. At weddings or wherever we were, they’d go, “Kate, do you know of any cool new beers that have come out? What are you drinking? What holiday beer do you like?” That’s how it all started.

How a passion became a calling

I went to school to become an art teacher. I worked as a teacher for a two years, moved to Texas for my husband’s career, and decided I needed to do something else. When we moved to Houston two years ago I was 30. I needed to figure out what I wanted to do. I knew I wasn’t necessarily going to make money off of something that I loved right away, but I decided that I loved craft beer.

I had no idea what direction I was going to go in with craft beer, but I liked health, nutrition, and fitness. So I tried to get beer-business and marketing jobs — I didn’t know how tough it was to get into.

I knew I wasn’t necessarily going to make money off of something that I loved right away, but I decided that I loved craft beer.
Kate Christensen

Then a local brewery here said they didn’t have anything right away, but if I started as a beertender they’d let me do stuff in the brewhouse as well to learn more about the beers, the history behind it, and the process of how they do things.

So I started beertending at the brewery, and on the side I was working in the brewhouse, helping with labeling and bottling.

I still don’t know a ton about craft beer — I’m always learning. That’s why I developed Craft Beer Girls: to learn, share, and ask questions continuously. I’m not against regular, streamlined beers. People always laugh when I have a Miller Lite in my hand or something. But hey, beer is beer.

Kate couldn’t find a gathering place for women who enjoy beer — so she created it.

Craft beer is an intimidating area to enter, especially for newbies or for people who have drunk it forever but don’t know much about it. Walking into a brewery, how do you pronounce a name? What if you don’t know what style you like? It’s very intimidating, and it’s predominantly men in the business, even though you’re starting to see a lot more women in breweries.

I didn’t feel comfortable asking questions. That was definitely part of creating a safe space for people who are learning or are advanced and want to share their knowledge. Our group is not against men — we get asked that a lot — it’s just a different space. And the fitness aspect made it more of a safe space to talk about women’s health, just being honest and open with people — “Hey, I don’t know much, somebody help me out, somebody tell me what this” — and seeing the reaction. It was a huge thing that was missing in the industry.

Within the first couple of weeks I saw that we really needed this space. And then I saw how active it was and how many questions were out there, how many women would join. The excitement was immediate.

The sense of community was so strong and supportive, and it took a lot of work to cultivate that — but it was just there.
Kate Christensen

From a small social media community to a growing online hub

The biggest driving force behind Craft Beer Girls growing so quickly was the need for friendship and a sense of community. As adults, it’s really hard to make new friends, especially with people moving and changing locations for new jobs. We see it all the time.

That was the driving force behind growing the state groups. I started these little conversations and felt there was such a huge need for each state to have that space for women to connect locally and build those local friendships.

The sense of community was so strong and supportive, and it took a lot of work to cultivate that — but it was just there. The need for the local communities came from the ladies feeling engaged and wanting to share even more with their new friends. It just made sense in my mind, evolved, and found a path.

It’s really cool when I step back and look at it and hear all the stories. There’s a girl who just moved to our area a month ago — she told me how she now made 15 best friends in a month and a half.

I want to do a Craft Beer Girls festival one day. We’re going to try and go to the Great American Beer Festival over next year. That will be one of our first larger meetups with women from all over the U.S. But I definitely want to have an official Beer&Body Craft Beer Girls Fest some day.

We have plans to spread to Canada and the U.K. I also want to grow the states’ groups and hone in on local friendships and local events. But I want to make sure it stays what it is: a kind, safe space.

To learn more about Kate Christensen and the thriving community she launched, watch her video above — then visit Beer&Body Craft Beer Girls.

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