Jessica Fierro discovered her love for beer while living in Europe for five years with her husband, Rich. When they returned to the United States in 2007, Fierro began exploring beers in Colorado Springs. Now she’s a homebrew competition winner of the television show Beerland and, most recently, the proud owner of Atrevida Beer Company, formerly Great Storm Brewing, which reopened in May on Cinco de Mayo. We talked with Fierro about her learning process, hard work ethic and being a woman in a predominantly male industry.
Springs: How did you go from being a fan of beer to brewing?
Jessica Fierro: I started really frequenting the craft beer scene we had here. Shortly after that, I just started knocking on doors and seeing who would give me an opportunity to brew with them.
It was difficult because people see my nails, they see my makeup (Fierro used to work in cosmetology), and they don’t think I’m ready to get back there and do the grimy, dirty work. One guy looked at me and said, “If you’re serious, show up tomorrow here at 7 a.m.” That was Mark Wiebe from Smiling Toad. So I went in there, and [owner Biff Morehead] kind of gave us the OK. I basically did an internship there for about a year. Somewhere in that time I said, “I think I know enough that I want to do my own homebrewing.”
What was it like being one of the only women at that time participating in homebrew competitions?
I’ve been spoken to a certain kind of way. I’ve been looked at a certain kind of way. I’ve been dismissed out of conversations. I can’t think of any reason other than I’m the woman in the group. It never stopped me. I continue to drive on. It’s one of those things you put your blinders on, stay in your lane, and you move forward. You take what is going to benefit you, and you keep driving on with that. So if I’m able to do that for someone else, especially a woman who wants to be in this industry, I want to be that person for them.
You took ownership of Great Storm Brewing in January. How did you make the decision to become Atrevida Beer Company?
I already had a vision for what I wanted, following in line with my brewing style, the whole Latina thing and being a woman. We changed the name to Atrevida which means daring, bold, fearless woman—which I think is indicative also of my brewing style.
Tell us about your beer styles.
The best way to describe it is taking the culinary map of growing up in a traditional Mexican family. I take those same flavors from dishes that I love or pastries that I loved growing up as a kid and incorporate them into my beers to find the perfect match as far as a base for that specific flavor profile that I’m trying to evoke.
What are your hopes for women in the brewing industry?
I’m super happy and proud of my team. It’s all women, only one man. I think that we [women brewers] have made a lot of progress—what I would love is to see more women in prevalent roles. I’d love to see more women brewers, not assistants, not sellers, but head brewers, master brewers. I would love to see more woman-owned breweries.
When I think about my daughter, I think about things that I want her to be able to overcome. Everyone has naysayers; everyone has doubters, people who just won’t believe in you no matter how well you do. I want my daughter to see me do those things.
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