You might think that beer drinking – and the important act preceding it, beer brewing – is the private domain of men. Dimly lit bars with men stare mutely at plasma screens with flickering images of sports being played. Big burly men load sacks of malt and big kegs onto even bigger trucks. Well, I have two names that will dispel that drinking & brewing myth: Beer for Chicks and the Pink Boots Society.
Let’s travel back to the beginning of beer. Ancient Sumeria to be exact. The name of the brewing game back then was Ninkasi, the Goddess of fermentation. The epic poem “Hymn to Ninkasi” describes the basics of brewing beer and her powers are still invoked today by the Ninkasi brewery in Eugene, Oregon. Moving forward to middle ages, alewives performed a large chunk of brewing. It is only in recent times (historically speaking) that men became beer’s predominant producers and consumers.
The Pink Boots Society, spearheaded by brewer Teri Fahrendorf, was formed to encourage and empower women to enter the brewing industry in whatever capacity they wanted to contribute to beermaking. Society members now include brewers, owners, saleswomen, writers and other industry players. Even though the beer industry “boy’s network” still makes entry difficult, craft beer is more open to experimentation than other fields. You may be drinking a beer, right now, that was brought to you in one way or another by one of the dedicated and talented women in the Pink Boots Society. New Belgium? Allagash? Moylans? Can you imagine the beer world without these breweries in it?
Need more proof? The British pub company, J.D. Wetherspoon, holds an annual Real-Ale festival. Limited to primarily British breweries, they invite five guest brewers from around the world to create new beers for the competition. The only invitee from the U.S.? Tonya Cornett from Bend Brewing in Oregon. I love that this society is growing and making a positive impact mostly from the selfish standpoint of wanting MORE handcrafted beer in my ‘fridge. Why would you limit who made it?
The Pink Boots will be at the Great American Beer Festival this September in Denver and will be holding a consumer education seminar with a focus on beer drinking groups for women. And speaking of educating the beer consumer…
Beer for Chicks, founded by Christina Perozzi, with contributions by Hallie Beaune, takes form of the Beer for Chicks blog and through sommelier efforts at trendsetting Los Angeles bars and restaurants like Father’s Office and Rustic Canyon. Their first book will be released in November. It has the provocative name. “The Naked Pint: An Unadulterated Guide to Craft Beer.” [I have already ordered my copy from Amazon.] According to the Beer for Chicks website, the “…mission is to dispel many misconceptions that women have about beer, and bring beer to the modern women’s dining experience.”
In a beer world where big stouts and barleywines sit atop the beer ratings heap, it is a breath of fresh air to hear another perspective about this huge beer universe. In the forthcoming book, they talk about the science of making beer, beer and food pairings (which is a topic brought up alot by people new to beer) and perfecting your palate for beer. What I love about their efforts is that they are down to earth. Their credo is short and to the point: “Beer is good!”
Beer is indeed good, and not only for one half of the world. FOR HOMEWORK, find a bottle of Port Brewing’s Hot Rocks Lager. It’s a collaboration between Tonya Cornett from Bend Brewing with the mad geniuses at Port.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.