By Amy Newell-Large
Wow, wow, and wow! I have had the pleasure of reaching out to quite a few women who participated Big Boots Brew (BBB) Day 2017, a fundraiser that exemplifies the spirit of Pink Boots Society. The feedback has been inspiring. Many women traveled a fair distance; for some it was their first time assisting with a brew. BBB2017 helped launched the Pink Boots Chapter in Hong Kong! Overall, BBB2017 brought together women with diverse roles in the industry to celebrate our shared passion and community while brewing their own take on one style, Historical/Ancient Strong Ale. In anticipation of the upcoming release parties, it is my pleasure to share with you some of the comments that highlight the importance of this collective experience.
BBB is always scheduled in conjunction with International Women’s Day. Martha from Wibby Brewing wrote, “I thought it was a really special day to do it on! Women in our industry (or any industry for that matter) should be celebrated, no matter what their position is. It was really great to bond with everyone, learn more about brewing, and have a great time doing it.”
The sense of strength in community shone through in many of the correspondences I read. “I must say that brewing with a group of welcoming women is so refreshing! I am the only woman brewing where I work, so the Big Boots Brew day brings much needed zusammengehörigkeitsgefühl! This means a ‘sense of belonging and feeling of togetherness’ in German…I love being in the brewhouse, but I rarely have the chance to hear the perspectives of women working in marketing, public relations, labs, sales, or as suppliers. There are so many aspects of our industry that I want to learn about!” – Jen Jordan, Anchor Brewing
“Big Boots Brew was a fabulous day that drew nearly two dozen women from all over Montana to our little brewery in Philipsburg. It was a great way to celebrate International Women’s Day- we were productive, collaborative, had fun, and learned new things! With Montana being such a large state geographically, it’s difficult to get the PBS members together so we were thrilled that women made the time and effort to spend the day brewing with us.” – Maddy Mason, Philipsburg Brewing
From Ashley Brooks first participated in BBB2015, “It was great to come together with other local women in the industry with more experience than myself. At the time, and I had a lot to learn.” In 2017, she hosted BBB2017 and enthusiastically organized the group in British Columbia. “I wanted to be a part of bringing everyone together to work, talk, and learn with each other, meet more women coming into the industry and form some strong bonds… I was inspired to teach and pass on my knowledge in the brewery as the women had done in my previous years.”
There is an important educational element to Big Boots Brew day, as everyone noted. BBB creates an opportunity to work side by side with women in many areas of our industry. It also provides the opportunity to share many types of knowledge. The Rare Barrel in California focuses on fermentation, aging, and blending. The staff there constantly collaborates and engages in dialogue around projects. Danielle was able to bring women into that world through BBB. “Our staff is very involved in collaborating with each other to create new blends or sour beers in a somewhat democratic process. We are able to voice opinions and pose questions throughout the process and learn from the beer as well as each other. I wanted to share this process with our PBS chapter, have an open dialogue about sour beer production, and create an educational and participatory experience. During the blending day we were all able to taste sample base beer blends and and note differences of yeast and bacteria expressions in each sample. We also got to trial new ingredients with tinctures and worked together in small groups to come up with potential blends. At the end, the entire group of participants came to a consensus on the final collaborative blend. Each person had a hand in the collaborative beer and experience.”
In Hong Kong, Marisa used the opportunity of BBB2017 to launch the Pink Boots Chapter and establish a community of learning and friendship. “We thought this would be a great way to get the women of beer in Hong Kong together for a fun afternoon of brewing and teach them the benefits of membership with PBS. This was the first time that only women in the beer industry in Hong Kong had been together.” The brewery that Marisa operates with her husband, Back to School Brewing, offers a craft beer educational workshop. She used that as the platform for the brew day and got everyone excited about brewing together. “We are fortunate to have a few female brewers in Hong Kong; BBB2017 provided an occasion for them to get back to the basics of brewing on a smaller scale. We had about 13 women and everyone was involved in the brew in some way — from milling, sparging, hop additions, etc. This was the first time brewing for a handful of women who work on the distribution or bar side. Overall, it was an awesome afternoon of connecting, supporting, and brewing together.” By establishing Pink Boots in Hong Kong Marisa is hopeful about the enthusiasm it will bring to the craft beer industry. “The craft beer scene in Hong Kong is still in its infancy, but growing, so it is an exciting time. That being said, many people in Hong Kong still view beer as a male thing, so we are hoping to empower and educate the men and women of Hong Kong.”
Ashley, in Vermont is also hopeful that Big Boots Brew Day and Pink Boots will help bring awareness to women in the industry, “ The first time you go into a brewery it can be a little intimidating, but women love beer too so they should brew! … And if this fundraiser can raise awareness to give other women opportunity in this growing field, all the better!”
Big Boots Brew day allows us to set aside time to purposefully bond with other women in our field. This special occasion continues impact all those who participate. “Bringing women together for a day can really inspire you, and give you new ideas and perspectives. Not only do you get to know these rad women professionally, but also on a much more personal level. A lot of these women will be friends and mentors for life,” wrote Erica DeAnda of Freewheel Brewing Company. “These women really inspire me to keep pursuing brewing and never let anything hold us down.”
Cheers to everyone who participated in BBB2017. It truly has been a wonderful and empowering experience, and I will eagerly await next year’s brew! In the meantime, don’t forget to try some of the awesome brews made this year. I know I will. With so many PBS chapters participating in BBB2017, there will be lots of release parties starting in April. Visit the PBS website calendar page to learn when and where they’re happening: https://www.pinkbootssociety.org/.
Amy Newell-Large is currently the Hospitality Manager at Avery Brewing Company in Boulder, CO. A Washington State native, She grew up in a home brewing family where IPAs reigned supreme. She has learned to be a jack-of-all trades in the beer industry, from bar tending to brewing, events and education. Amy received a PBS cultural immersion scholarship for the Germany Study Tour. She will be speaking on Tap Room Management at the upcoming PBS 10th Anniversary Conference.