Read more about more Women Who Brew like Kim Prezbindowski with the latest Beer News.
Humans have been drinking beer or similar drinks for several thousand years, but many do not realize early brewers were mainly women, making beer as one of their normal household tasks. However, by the 18th century the brewing gradually became a man’s job and women were relegated to roles as barmaids, pub operators, bottlers or secretaries for breweries.
Over time beer also came to be viewed as a man’s drink. Now with the craft beer renaissance and the realization and acceptance that beer can be enjoyed by all, more and more women choose beer as their drink of choice. They are also entering the beer business as brewers and brewery owner/operators.
In this series we delve into the backgrounds of several women—co-owner/operators, brewers and operations managers. These accomplished women are leaving their mark on the beer industry in Southern Nevada in occupations integral to the brewing business. Read on to discover the paths that led them to this field and the quite significant contributions they have made and continue to make.
Kim Prezbindowski — Southern Nevada Ale Fermenters Union’s First Female President
Kim Prezbindowski grew up in Hawaii, where she fell in love with the ocean, floral and fruit surroundings that she encountered in her daily life. She also has a creative background and was on a salsa dance team in both Hawaii and Las Vegas and became an instructor and a choreographer of Zumba routines. The first syllable of her last name foretold what her future role would be, as she is putting her creativity, love of nature and natural ingredients to good use as the first ever woman president of the Southern Ale Fermenters Union (SNAFU) homebrewing club.
Growing Up in Hawaii but Discovering Craft Beer in South Korea
After growing up in Hawaii from the time she was four years old, Kim pursued a teaching career and when the economy tanked in 2008, accepted a position in South Korea. While there, two things would occur that would chart her future. One was meeting her future husband Adam and the other was discovering a craft brewery called CraftWorks, which made her new favorite beer Gogong (translates to strong) Beer, a dark ale, which would plant the seed for a greater appreciation of the styles of beer that would eventually become her favorites to brew.
Beginnings of Homebrewing
After marrying Adam and living briefly in Hawaii, after attending Adam’s brother’s wedding in Las Vegas in 2014, the couple decided to relocate and take teaching jobs in Las Vegas, which offered the opportunity of a much lower cost of living. Once in Southern Nevada Kim and Adam further explored craft beer, trying various beer styles, but Kim’s decision to buy Adam a homebrew kit (at Bed, Bath & Beyond of all places!) for Christmas, led to experiencing beer on a completely different level. After watching Adam brew for a few years, Kim took on the homebrewing reins herself and to this day the husband-and-wife team make their own his and her brews.
Her very first brew was an ambitious one, making a whiskey barrel stout aged in whiskey-soaked wood chips. Her favorite beer styles include porter, stout, Trappist ales and Belgian ales, but she also loves brewing with non-traditional ingredients that she appreciates from her days in Hawaii, such as juniper berries soaked in gin, hibiscus, jasmine flowers, passionfruit and guava.
Kim is no stranger to professional brewing systems, as she regularly participates in group brewing sessions with the Pink Boots Society (an organization comprised of women working in any facet of the brewing business that through meetings and networking provide for members to learn of opportunities for positions in the brewing industry) hosted at local breweries. She also helped brew one of the first brews at Mojave Brewing as part of the brewery’s Founders promotion. Kim is also an accomplished BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) judge, which is no easy task, as certification requires several hours of study and preparation, familiarity with all major beer styles and passing an arduous test.
Kim’s husband Adam attests to her brewing prowess: “Ever since I’ve known Kim I’ve been impressed with her dedication and work ethic. Kim is meticulous and exacting when brewing, taking detailed notes and wanting everything to be perfect. Her juniper Porter is always amazing.”
Becoming the Homebrew Club’s First Female President
After discovering SNAFU in 2015 both became heavily involved in Southern Nevada’s only homebrew club, with Kim taking on the homebrew competition organizer role for three years and Adam being elected club president. Kim succeeded her husband, being elected as the club’s first ever female president and is currently serving her second term with plans for another.
Kim relates her greatest accomplishment as club president was moving the club towards being more about education than just being a drinking club, a natural progression from someone whose day job is that of a teacher. An example is arranging field trips to the UNR/UNLV Extension Research Center & Demonstration Orchard’s hop farm to learn how to grow one of the key ingredients in brewing, which led to organizing a homebrew competition using members’ fresh-grown hops.
Other innovations have included instituting a BJCP class for judging cider and mead, arranging for the club to participate in the Southern California Homebrew Club festival in Temecula as the only club outside of California to be included. Yet another is working on a proposal to the Nevada State Legislature to again allow homebrew to be poured at beer festivals under their own tent. A fun new program Kim instituted is the Brewing Buddies: club members draw names and are matched up with a partner with which they brew a batch of beer together and then share their creation at a future club meeting.
Adam adds, “She brings energy and passion to SNAFU. We have more club events now than ever before, and that’s only increasing. She wants to empower women in homebrewing and the industry through example and encouragement.”
Monthly Club Meetings
As it has since its inception in the late 1980s (disclaimer: I served a one-year term as club president in the mid-90s), SNAFU meets on the second Friday of each month at 7 p.m. But it was during Kim’s tenure as president that the club began alternating meeting at the Aces & Ales on Nellis (near Desert Inn) one month and at the Tenaya (near Cheyenne) location the other. This has increased membership and participation as now both sides of town are sites of regular club meetings. The club now boasts 280 members with about 40-50 attending meetings.
The routine of the meetings is recapping club business, discussing and planning upcoming events and field trips, selecting Brewing Buddies and sampling homebrews. Members wanting to learn about how to improve their homebrew are welcome to come early and have one of their brews judged and critiqued on a competition scoresheet with notes on what shined and what could be improved upon.
When asked what she likes best about being club president Kim says, “It’s a fun club, but is not just a drinking club anymore. We have so many opportunities for education, competitions and events. I love getting feedback from members and participating in Brewing Buddies.” Challenges are balancing her presidential duties with her full-time job as a 2nd grade teacher and the time-consuming task of organizing homebrew judging competitions, which now take place three times a year.
Other Inspiring Women in the Local Brewing Industry
Kim credits several women as being inspirational role models (including several that have been and will be featured in this series), including current Nevada Craft Brewers Association President and CraftHaus Co-owner Wyndee Forrest; Las Vegas Brewing Head Brewer Amanda Koeller; North 5th Co-owner Amanda Payan, Nevada’s first Hispanic female brewery owner; and fellow Pink Boots member and brewing yeast expert Dr. Sylvie Van Zandycke.
Kim’s acceptance as a woman in an industry that has historically been ruled by men has been for the most part positive. The only negative has been on occasion when she has asked a technical question about brewing or beer and the person she’s speaking to looks to Adam when answering. To his credit, Adam always turns to Kim and says, “Let me introduce you to my wife Kim. She’s the president of SNAFU.”
Future for Women in Brewing and Aspirations
Kim is very encouraged that there are so many women in the local brewing industry, more than most other cities the size of Las Vegas. She sees Nevada going in a great direction and will be a speaker on a panel at the Homebrew Con 2023 convention being held in San Diego this June on the topic of equity and how to bring more females into the industry.
Kim may be speaking to herself, as she and Adam have their own aspirations to one day open their own brewery. Plans are not complete yet, but both would share the brewing duties at a Hawaiian-themed brewery with the flavor of the islands complete with a dog-friendly park and lanai.
To learn more about the SNAFU homebrew club or to find out where and when the next meeting is, visit snafubrew.com.
Read more to discover of Bob’s Women Who Brew honorees.