At the 2012 Craft Brewers Conference earlier this month, a rep from Dogfish Head Brewing tweeted a picture of a long line to the mens restroom with the caption, “Best thing ever (for women at a brewer’s conference!) The only bathroom lines are for the men’s restroom!”
While it’s certainly true that the number of men in the craft brewing industry highly outnumbers the women, more girls are sneaking into traditionally male-dominated roles as brewers, owners, and Presidents and VP’s of successful breweries; women are also busy collecting paychecks designing marketing programs for breweries, running territories as saleswomen and slinging beers and craft beer knowledge at popular beer bars. With the recent increase of women in the craft brewing industry, it’s no surprise that the number of female craft beer consumers has increased as well. It’s been said that women will be the ones to keep the craft beer industry barreling ahead at full steam, and with dedicated female brewery employees, such as the crew of women at Avery Brewing, I don’t doubt that statement for one second.
Avery Brewing’s Sisterhood of the Hop is doing their part to get women involved in craft beer by holding monthly educational meetings that include everything from tastings, to recommendations on beer/food pairings, to dissecting and examining the brewing process and providing an in-depth history of specific beer styles. The majority of the monthly Sisterhood meetings are typically held in the barrel-aging cellar/private function room at Avery Brewing, however, the group occasionally ventures out into the local craft beer scene, sampling different styles of beers in some of the best beer bars in Boulder. The Sisterhood of the Hop meetings are not only a great way for women to get involved and interested in the craft beer scene, but also a great way to help members of the community, both women and men, gain a new appreciation and understanding of the complexity of the beer products that they consume each week.
Last month, I had the privilege of attending my first Sisterhood of the Hop meeting. I sat in Avery’s chilly barrel-aging cellar, devouring the ever-present smell of hops and savoring a selection of Belgian-style beers by Avery and a few other special breweries. Although you generally can’t go wrong by serving people healthy portions of good beer, the women behind the Sisterhood of the Hop are also serving up a wealth of experience and knowledge about the beer scene. It’s no surprise that Jess Steinitz and Amy Newall-Large, the women behind the Sisterhood, are filled with passion and opinions about craft beer– they are a part of one of the most popular breweries in Boulder County and their engaging and energetic stories about their experiences and love of the craft beer business is absolutely infectious to fellow beer drinkers and enthusiasts.
I, as usual, was late to the meeting, but pleasantly surprised to be greeted with many smiling faces of eager women (and a few men), along with a sample of Avery’s Karma Belgian Pale and perhaps the best meeting itinerary of any meeting I’ve ever attended: an outline of the beers (in order of planned consumption) along with a short description and space to write in first impressions and to guess ingredients was laid out in front of me. Amy and Jess took turns providing the history of Belgian beers along with ABV percentage, the general ingredients of each beer and a personal food pairing preference to enhance each beer.
This month, the women of Avery are throwing their monthly Sisterhood meeting smack dab in the middle of American Craft Beer Week with a screening of the film, “The Love of Beer”, a documentary celebrating the women of craft beer on Wednesday, May 16th. Tickets for the event are $10 and include a pint of Avery beer and the opportunity to hang out in the scared room filled with aging and infusing beers at the Avery Brewery. Regardless of your level of understanding of craft beer, be sure to follow the Sisterhood of the Hop group on their Facebook page and be sure to check out at least one of their events. You’ll leave feeling inspired, empowered, and possibly a little bit tipsy…