Jessica “Jess” Fierro’s husband was stationed in Germany for five years. It was during that time that she started to become fascinated with beer and the brewing process. Years after her stay in Germany, Fierro is now making a name for herself in the home brewing world – yeah, also known as a male-dominated field. Her beer named Doña Neta after her abuelita, took the competition by storm to bring home a win on Viceland’s Beerland. And the flavor is not what you’d expect to see at a brewery…
Jess Fierro’s journey into the world of beer all started as an *accident.*
Fierro’s husband had been stationed in Heidelberg, Germany when he was in the military. While in Germany, Fierro toured a beer brewing facility and, as she told mitú she realized, “It was just cheaper to drink beer than anything else.” Thus began Fierro’s beer experimenting phase to find – or create –a beer that best suited her palate.
Before she knew it, her Germany-based home business started picking up and by no means slowed down when she picked up and moved to Colorado, where she learned more about the business side of the industry.
My office. My brewniverse. #LatinaBrewer #Mexican #MyCraft #Chicana #MyPassion #Brewday 🇲🇽😎🍻💪🏼👊✊👐
Posted by Jess Fierro on Wednesday, July 5, 2017
“Once we got orders to come back to the states we were extremely lucky to get Colorado Springs, Colorado, which is known as the Napa Valley of beers,” Fierro told mitú. She added: “I quickly just started getting my feet wet so to speak and knocking on doors and asking people in the industry if I could brew with them and it kind of just took off from there.”
When Fierro was ready to give her beer a name, she turned to her abuelita for inspiration and she went with Doña Neta.
Fierro told mitú that her abuela’s name was Ernestina but everyone she knew called her Doña Neta.
Fierro also wanted to infuse Latino flavors from her childhood, like tamarindo, into her beer.
Fierro told mitú that tamarindo has a special place in her heart because of her childhood summers spent with her abuelita in Obregón, Sonora.
“My grandmother was her own entrepreneur. She used to make these little balls of candy of rolled up tamarindo,” Fierro told mitú. “She’d put four or five in a baggie and we’d go and sell them with her. For me, when I was sitting down one day and there was a beer that almost imparted that flavor. From that moment I knew I needed to make a tamarindo beer.”
But Doña Neta’s tamarindo beer is not your amateur beer. It recently won Viceland’s Beerland, a competition of home brewers across the country. That’s pretty legit.
“If I’m being honest, my first thought was, ‘Holy shit. I just won this.’ I think that for a minute there I heard her say it but it didn’t really register in my head,” Fierro told mitú. “There was a group of Latinas in the far corner that had been rooting me on the entire finale and when I saw them jump up and then I look over and see my husband crying and my daughter and my family that was kind of off on the side that I knew it was real.”
Fierro wants Latinas to see her story as a successful example of breaking into a male-heavy industry.
“This is going to help me kind of deliver that same message that I want to deliver: representing women in craft beer and representing Latinas in craft beer,” Fierro told mitú. “Equally as exciting to winning the competition is that I have this platform that I can use to speak and represent women and Latinas. I do feel like we are underrepresented and I would like to see more of us, not only in this industry but any industry that is male-dominated.”
For her, the most rewarding part of this journey has been being able to connect with so many people through a piece of her culture.
“That’s a piece of my culture in that glass. That’s a piece of my heart in that glass. In every sense of the word. Doña Neta means something to me. I put the recipe together,” Fierro told mitú. “I’m putting a little piece of my culture in there that belongs to a story. It’s an incredible feeling, especially to know now that there are people who I don’t know Facebooking me and messaging me or what have you and telling me that my beer is amazing. That’s an amazing feeling.”