The Familiar, Alewive’s Golden, and International Women’s Day
The advancement of women in beer and brewing is a welcome movement that I’m happy — and relieved — to see come to light over the past few years. Women in beer used to be the exception, a notable departure from the norm. It’s no longer the head-turner that it once was. I’ll say it now: are we there yet? No. Is gender inequality in the industry, as in all industries, still a major issue? Absolutely.
When I started in beer in 2012, I had few women to look to. I was fortunate to find a female homebrewing club and to be taken seriously by the male-dominated industry nearly all of the time. I led with what little knowledge I had and asked more questions than I answered for the first few years. And I met resistance from time to time.
But on International Women’s Day, let me put it this way.
The credit for the advancement of women in the industry goes to women in the industry.
Women like Sarah Bonvallet, Jennifer Proesel, Deb Loch, Allyson Rolph, and microbiologist Gerri Kustelski (who was so far ahead of her time that she was the first female allowed to collect her own grain and wort samples at Hamm’s) — just to name a few. Countless women nationally have also paved the way: Julia Herz, Lauren Salazar, Lucy Saunders, and, my friend and Twitter-champion-for-the-everywoman, Carla Jean Lauter.
With the recent momentum driven by these strong women, and many more, I’m elated to share the latest news from the local women-in-beer frontier: three beer releases, and one nonprofit, that you should know about.
First, don’t miss the Alewive’s Golden Sparkling Ale release at Lift Bridge next weekend, April 14th. A portion of the proceeds from this beer, brewed exclusively by women, will be donated to Pink Boots Society and MN Women’s Consortium. Alewive’s Golden features Belgian-inspired flavors of spice and fruit, derived in part from yeast, plus a dry finish with mild bitterness. Jennifer Proesel, brewer at Lift Bridge, brought together a crew of women for a day of learning and brewing.
Also on the knowledge front, a new nonprofit called Witch Hunt has emerged as a means to promote women as professionals in the brewing industry. Rather than focusing just on one day or one batch of beer, Witch Hunt, founded by Sarah Christine Williams, Rose Picklo, and Barb Gettel, seeks to elevate women (and those for whom gender identity would be a barrier) within the industry year-round by furthering understanding of the brewing process.
The first Witch Hunt event was a smash hit. Held at the Surly Brooklyn Center brewery, 30-plus women were involved in not only creating a beer, but also networking, and asking a multitude of questions.
The beer we created, The Familiar dry-hopped tart ale, released today in honor of International Women’s Day at the Surly Beer Hall. The name refers to a witch’s sidekick, like a crow or black cat, that can be benevolent or malevolent, guiding the witch on her journey. The beer was made with acidulated malt and sweet orange peel for a mild tartness and bitter finish.
The brewery was packed tonight for the release of The Familiar. While the aroma has a candied meyer lemon note, the taste is not sweet, and the finish is dry and abrupt almost to the point of astringency. Bitter orange notes come through after swallowing. A high level of effervescence plus the tart profile speaks of warmer months to come but invites drinkers to comfortably have a few.
Finally, look out for the upcoming Dangerous Man Women’s Beer, a single malt, single hop beer created by their powerhouse of female staff. It was brewed today and the release will be announced on social media. Expect it to be full of Golden Promise flavor plus a citrus-forward finish.
This weekend, I encourage you to raise a glass of beer made by women to all the women who make this incredible Minnesota beer scene what it is.