The Sisterhood of Craft Beer

Jeanna Malines with the Central Florida Lady Crafters at Oblivion Taproom

As history has demonstrated, women have long struggled to find footing in many male-dominated industries and have often turned to each other for collective support and direction. Even with the massive advances that women have made over the years, there still remain subtle and sometimes not so subtle challenges in many different industries, including craft beer. These issues are worth giving voice too, and thankfully, many strong women in the craft beer industry are willing to do just that!

Enter the sisterhood of craft beer…

Pink bootsOne of the sisterhood’s most prominent voices is the Pink Boots Society. Their mission is to empower women beer professionals to advance their careers in the beer industry through education. They say it best:

We are the female movers and shakers in the beer industry. We get the beer brewed and fermented with the highest possible quality. We also own breweries, package the beer, design beers, serve beers, write about beer, and cover just about any aspect of beer, and we are all women. Most importantly, we teach each other what we know through our own seminar programs, and we help each other advance our beer careers by raising money for educational scholarships.

Not only is the Pink Boots Society intent on supporting a new generation of female beer leaders, but it’s also really into brewing great beer. Recently, a group of nine Colorado-based Pink Boots brewers collaborated on a beer that was launched on the first day of American Craft Beer Week. It was simultaneously tapped on May 13th at nine different Colorado locations and the proceeds from the collaboration were donated to the Pink Boots Society.

Here in Florida, Intuition Ale Works has been a supporter of the women in craft beer movement since the beginning. “We knew we wanted to engage women ever since we opened in 2010, especially since half of our staff are women,” said Cari Sanchez-Potter, business manager at Intuition. “Last spring, we brought on Jessie Erickson as one of our brewers – she’s the only lady brewer in Jacksonville! – and we had the idea of bringing the ladies of Intuition together to brew a special beer.”

Intuition’s first annual Lady Brew Day was last spring and included all their female staff members. They called their collaboration beer – a black lager with ancho, guajillo, and chipotle peppers – The Siren. This year, they asked all the female members of their “Mug Club” to join them on brew day. Their collaboration The Eleanor, a Belgian blonde ale infused with 90% black and 10% oolong teas, was tapped earlier this month. And like last year, Intuition donates $1 per pint of The Eleanor sold in the taproom to Girls Rock! Jacksonville, an organization thatcultivates self-empowerment and positive identity development in girls through music experimentation, DIY media, and peer collaboration.

Intuitions Jessie Erickson staff and Mug Club Members on their annual Ladies Brew DayThe ladies who love craft beer, but may not be in the industry, are not alone. National groups such as Barley’s Angels, who have chapters in 19 states, are great places for ladies to meet like-minded gals, to learn about craft beer, and most importantly, to have fun!

Here in Central Florida, the Lady Crafters have been meeting for over a year. “I knew there were other ladies out there interested in good beer,” said Kelli Matheny, founder of the Lady Crafters. “I wanted a time where we ladies could connect and learn without feeling overshadowed by men. It’s our time to chat, try some good beer, and educate ourselves about the craft beer scene.”

“I think the more women, as a whole, become more comfortable and more confident in their place as beer drinkers in our society, the more women will be accepted [in the industry],” said Ann-Marie Bays, beer wrangler at Renegade Reps and the brains behind Beer Geek Speak. “Heck, before the Industrial Revolution, men weren’t even allowed to brew beer!”

She makes a great point. Beer is in our blood… and I know from experience that it just takes a little spark for an interest in craft beer to grow into a passion. When you can couple that passion with a lot of support, it can become a career.  

Maybe Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox said it best – “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves.” Or did they say “Brewin’ It?” I bet they did.

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