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Sisters are brewing it for themselves

The women of B.C.’s craft beer industry are taking part in charity brew days to mark International Women’s Day
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All-female brew days, like this one at Steel & Oak, help raise money for women’s charities and scholarships for women considering a career in beer, as well as connect women in the craft beer industry. Photo Jordan Megahy

Great things happen when women come together: creativity, passion and conversation flow as freely as the pints. Indeed, the women of the B.C. craft beer industry remind us of that every day. All around the province, they are taking part in charity brew days to mark International Women’s Day to honour and champion not only women in industry, but all women. Who wouldn’t drink to that?

For the third year, I’ve had the privilege of participating in the planning and brewing process of an all-female collaboration at New Westminster’s Steel & Oak Brewing, which benefits a local charity that supports and empowers women. This year, we’ve chosen to support the Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver with a beer to be launched on International Women’s Day on March 8.

It’s heartening to learn that this is only one of many collaborations happening across B.C., championed by the women of the industry who are connecting to create something meaningful that not only helps us support each other, but also gives back to our communities through charitable initiatives.

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This brew day at Cumberland Brewing Co. was one of many around the province to celebrate International Women’s Day. Photo Alexandra Stephanson

Lundy Dale is the Vancouver Chapter Leader of the Pink Boots Society, an organization that aims to assist, inspire and encourage female beer industry professionals to advance their careers through education. Since the first brew five years ago at Dogwood Brewing, she has been instrumental in bringing together B.C. women from throughout the industry to collaborate and network.

“We want to make it bigger and better every year and get more women involved,” she says. “I’ve had a chance to connect and meet so many women: everyone from tasting room mangers to reps, to people who sell malt, sell hops. So it’s not just brewers, it’s women in the industry that all get together.”

Each year, a specific Pink Boots hop blend is created by members and scaled up and distributed through Yakima Chief Hops. A portion of the proceeds from all Pink Boots sales goes towards educational scholarships and programming. The host brewery then decides on a style with the help and creativity of the women involved.

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All-female brew days, like this one at Steel & Oak, help raise money for women’s charities and scholarships for women considering a career in beer, as well as connect women in the craft beer industry. Photo Jordan Megahy

Dale has relocated to Penticton, where Slackwater Brewing will be host a brew on International Women’s Day with up to 15 women, including Rebecca Kneen from Crannóg Ales and Shirley Warne from Angry Hen. Similar brews are happening all over the province.

Callister Brewing co-founder Diana McKenzie was the recipient of a Pink Boots scholarship and has been involved with the society ever since.

“I was lucky enough to earn one of their scholarships to do a tour of Germany about a year and a half ago,” she says. “So as a result of that I’ve done official Pink Boots brews the last two years to try to pay back and try and support them and their mandate.”

In conjunction with hosting a Pink Boots brew day, McKenzie is expanding on the spirit of the two by hosting female led brews year round. “We do a little pilot batch or something to be more inclusive and invite home brewers and other women to help take the mystique out of brewing and get more women involved and encourage more of that culture. I’m doing a lot of women’s brews and events all the time.”

Her goal is to have a series of Callister Women’s Collaborations each month of 2020, starting with a lichtenhainer, a traditional German smoked sour wheat ale, with Roxanne Cartwright from The Bakery Brewing Co. in January.

These brews also serve to raise the profile of women’s roles in the industry. There are women brewers, women owners, women marketers, women working in the tasting room, hell — we even write about beer.

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This brew day at Cumberland Brewing Co. was one of many around the province to celebrate International Women’s Day. Photo Alexandra Stephanson

“There’s perceptions out there and, hopefully, by more women making themselves known, we can kind of make it a bit more of an inclusive industry,” McKenzie says.

Penticton has a long-standing craft beer community, with trails blazed for women in industry by people like Cannery’s Patt Dyck and Tin Whistle’s Lorraine Nagy.

“They were women in craft beer before the conversation even started,” says Kim Lawton, marketing director of Penticton’s Cannery Brewing. “They’re such incredible icons and mentors for what we have as women in Penticton craft beer. I don’t feel like I ever had to push the boundaries the way that other people do in other areas because we have such incredible trailblazers. I just feel so blessed to be in an industry that has those women legends ahead of us.”

The women of Cannery are collaborating on the second in their Goddess series for Pink Boots this year.

“We wanted to really do a beer that was celebration of women, by women,” she says. “All of the breweries that are supporting this are helping to create a future for more women in this industry. It’s pretty exciting to know that money is being allocated to help women grow their careers in this industry.”

Check out some of these female-brewed charity beers this International Women’s Day:

  • Egalite // Steel & Oak Brewing
  • Ceres Mango Milkshake IPA // Cannery Brewing
  • Aunt Florence Gruit // Barkerville Brewing
  • Tits Up Gose // Cumberland Brewing
  • Barrel-aged Lichtenhainer // Callister Brewing
  • Stone Deaf Sacc Trois Saison // Container Brewing
  • TBD // Coast Mountain Brewing
  • TBD // Slackwater Brewing
  • TBD // Stanley Park Brewing

 

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