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Writing About Beer Culture by Kathy Flanigan

Women In Beer
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I write about the culture of craft beer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper. I was a general assignment reporter in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which meant I could write about anything editors asked from stories about an overnight children’s shelter to spending 24 hours at a casino.

Then I accepted a challenge to write about issues important to women — “Lean In” was big at the time. Why not? I’m a woman. I’m all for parity.

The first story I wrote was about women and beer. I wrote about how women are a fast-growing component of craft beer’s growth. And then I wrote about beer again. And again. I wasn’t a big beer drinker at the time and I didn’t know what I didn’t know. The women of Milwaukee’s Barley’s Angels group helped me out.

The first story wasn’t so far off track from the original assignment. I found that plenty of women knew about beer; several worked in the industry; and others were more-than-competent home brewers. And yet bartenders would still automatically hand over the wine list when they sat at the bar. Or offer unsolicited advice on fruit beers they might like.

The year was 2013. There were nine breweries and brewpubs in  Milwaukee. Today, there are 31. Two more are expected to open this summer.

It was dumb luck timing for me. It became an opportunity to witness a new wave of Milwaukee’s craft brewery growth from the ground up.

This growth spurt is great news for Milwaukee. Not since the 1960s and ‘70s, when Schlitz, Pabst, Blatz and Miller ruled the nation’s beer supply has beer been a centerpiece for the city. I don’t cover beer for beer geeks. I cover it for people like me who like beer and get excited by the endless possibilities. It’s amazing to consider that most beers use the same ingredients but they can taste completely different.

I remember the night I realized that I had intentionally switched from a wine lover to a beer lover. I was with a friend at Sugar Maple. My friend and I spent years sipping wines and talking about what we liked about them. We ordered a flight at Sugar Maple. We couldn’t help it. We did the same thing. We sniffed. We compared. What does this taste like to you? This one tastes too sweet? This was our wine conversation but now it was about beer.

Last summer I spread my beer evangelism across the state for research on a book Beer Lover’s Wisconsin: Best Breweries, Brewpubs and Beer Bars for Globe Pequot publishing. My research took me to the northern tip of Wisconsin where I met Allyson Rolph, head brewer for Thirsty Pagan Brewing (at 

the time) to the southern border of Wisconsin’s Driftless region where Deb Carey, founder and president of New Glarus Brewing, spent an afternoon showing me the brewery and the new canning line.

Sometimes I just went to breweries like a tourist — occasionally as many as five in one day. They use the same ingredients but each brewery is as unique as the people behind it. Some, like Bloomer Brewing in Bloomer, Wis., served as the neighborhood bar — a place where at least one day a week people came together for beer brewed with original and historic recipes and tacos served from a card table covered in a plastic tablecloth. I didn’t like the beer at Kozy Yak in Amherst as much as I hoped to but I did like the feeling that I was in someone’s living room and the hosts were happy to see me.

I have the best “What I did on my summer vacation” story ever. More than that, I had motivation to continue to write about craft beer. I joined the Pink Boots Society in 2016, after I felt seasoned enough to feel like beer really was my job.

The summertime tour, along with these four years of reporting on beer in Wisconsin, has taught me that the state’s brewers are a committed brunch who build community by working with each other instead of against each other. Sprecher Brewing and Lakefront Brewing brought craft beer to Milwaukee in the 1980s. They see the current craft movement as momentum instead of competition. There’s a Milwaukee Craft Beer League to spotlight beer in our city.

And there’s me. I’m a soon to be a published author. About beer. Go figure.

Kathy Flanigan is a reporter for the features and entertainment section of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She’s been a journalist since 1978 covering subjects from how to deal with Southern California traffic to life in the Atlanta suburbs. She lives in Wauwatosa, WI with her husband, Duane, and her dog, Jack. In addition to her daytime job, she is on a book tour for Beer Lover’s Wisconsin.

Kris McDowell

PSU Business of Craft Brewing Scholarship Recipient Announced

Scholarship Recipients

The Pink Boots Society is proud to announce that Carly Chelder of Ambler, Penn. is the recipient of the Portland State University Online Business of Craft Brewing Certificate scholarship.

Chosen by the PBS Scholarship Selection Committee (SSC), five very experienced women beer professionals who hold positions as brewers, educators and writers, they chose Carly as she “is currently an integral part of opening a brewery and would benefit from this program. In addition, she already possesses a strong background in leadership and organizational skills.This course will help bridge the gap between her existing skills and the beer industry knowledge she will need.”

Carly is a newer Pink Boots Society member but says that she “foresees a mutually beneficial relationship” with the organization and hopes “to volunteer regularly once our brewpub is up and running.” That brewpub, Tannery Run Brew Works, took possession of their leased space in October and are having a 7 barrel system retrofitted for split-batch fermentation with an estimated delivery date of December 2017 or January 2018.

Part of a three-person team opening the brewpub, she describes herself saying, “I am not a brewer. I am a handler. I handle things. I assist. I support. I research and I plan. I market. I organize. Although I’m not an integral part of the product, I am a crucial part of the machine.” Officially handling marketing and outreach, she also schedules meetings, gets updates from her partners on their respective parts and handles the business side of things. She’s looking forward to gaining the business management knowledge she is currently lacking through this scholarship.

The Online Business of Craft Brewing Certificate focuses on the commerce skills needed to create a viable basic startup business plan to make a brewery efficient and profitable. Students will be introduced to the various players and processes that go into producing and selling craft beverages, from growing grains and hops, to malting, brewing, distribution and retail environments. The courses cover different strategies, the associated costs of creating a craft beer and business models, culminating in an investor-ready business plan to present to potential backers, the craft beverage start-up community and other potential business partners.

In addition to attending the course, Carly will receive a pair of pink steel-toe rubber boots when she fulfills the Pay It Forward requirement associated with the scholarship.

Kris McDowell


Women In Beer

By Laura Boada, brewer at Zambo Creek in Quito, Ecuador

Mi nombre es Laura Boada, soy miembro de Pink Boots Society desde el año 2015. Cuando encontré una organización que se dedicaba al empoderamiento de mujeres en la industria de la cervecería a través de la educación esto me llamó mucho la atención. Siempre tuve la curiosidad de conocer y aprender en una cervecería en uno de los países donde la cerveza es el pan de cada día. Pink Boots Society lanzó la convocatoria para una estancia de aprendizaje en Fremont Brewing Company en octubre del 2016. Yo pensé que esa era la oportunidad para aprender más sobre cervecería.

Mi aplicación describía la receta que elaboramos a finales del año 2016, una cerveza con ingredientes especiales, como el maíz morado, mortiño (andean berry), ataco y hierba luisa. La receta base de la colada morada, bebida local consumida para la celebración del día de los muertos, fiesta celebrada en varios países de América Latina en el mes de noviembre. Y sin duda este tipo de innovaciones resume un poco qué es lo que espero para Zambo Creek Microcervecería, una mezcla de sabores locales, en búsqueda de innovaciones globales.

El 1 de febrero del 2017 llegué a Fremont Brewing Company en Seattle, Washington. Nunca había visto una cervecería artesanal tan grande en mi vida. En Fremont Brewing Company pude experimentar la elaboración de cerveza en volúmenes mayores a los 80 BBL, además de conocer sobre la producción de diferentes estilos de cerveza como: American Stout, American Pale Ale, Indian Pale Ale, por mencionar algunos. Así como la elaboración de otros estilos de cerveza menos comunes como: Barley Wine, French Saison, Golden Ale, Sour Weisse, entre otros.  

Una actividad que ocurre durante todo el proceso de elaboración de la cerveza, a veces invisible, es la actividad que se realiza en el laboratorio. Identificación de off flavors. La toma de las pruebas básicas de densidad y pH. Y llevar a cabo pruebas microbiológicas para asegurar que el consumidor tenga una cerveza de calidad. Así también pude conocer más acerca de la reutilización de las levaduras y sobre los análisis de viabilidad de las mismas, previo a su reutilización.

La parte favorita, la sala de degustación, realmente hace la diferencia tener un “tercer lugar” y está tan bien pensado, en general el consumo de cerveza en este sitio se lo hace de manera responsable y moderada. Me gusta que realmente sea el tercer lugar para jóvenes, adultos, e incluso familias enteras. La oferta de más de 10 estilos de cerveza y hasta sodas para niños y mujeres embarazadas hace que aquí todos importen.

En cada punto desde la molienda de las maltas hasta la experiencia en la sala de degustación, la limpieza juega un papel crucial en cada punto de esta cadena de cervecería. Las cosas podrían salirse de control si no se tiene cuidado con la limpieza en cada uno de los procesos. Finalmente, y lo que más destaca de esta cervecería es que Fremont Brewing tiene una visión hacia convertirse en una cervecería ambientalmente responsable al 100%.

En Seattle, Washington tuve la oportunidad de conocer varias de las cervecerías que allí operan como: Reuben’s; Lagunitas; Pike Brewing Company; Stoup y también un ícono de inspiración en el Valle de Yakima Bale Breaker. El 8 de marzo del 2017 elaboramos, junto con varias mujeres inmersas en el mundo de la cervecería, una cerveza por el día internacional de la mujer. Una receta cuyo ingrediente estrella fue la miel, una Ancient ale. Y que resumiría de la mejor manera todo un mes de experiencias infinitas.

Tuve la oportunidad de hacer un viaje relámpago al Estado de Oregon para asistir al Simposio sobre Análisis Sensorial en Lúpulos, un evento organizado por la American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC), además de aprender sobre lúpulos tuve la oportunidad de aprender sobre off flavors en cerveza y las experiencias de análisis sensorial en Deschutes Brewing Company en Bend y en Craft Brew Alliance en Portland. Así como la propuesta inclusiva e innovadora de Ninkasi Brewing Company en Eugene.

Lo que más me llamó la atención es la capacidad de innovación. Conocí acerca de las cervezas envejecidas en barril (Bourbon Barrel Aged) en Fremont Brewing. Las cervezas agrias o sour beers, especialmente admiré este tipo de cervezas en Logsdon Farm House Ales en Hood River; Upright Brewing en Portland y BreakSide en Portand. Una tendencia que aún no cala en Sudamérica, pero puedo decir con seguridad que este tipo de cervezas tienen un futuro promisorio en esta parte del continente, especialmente en países tan diversos como Ecuador.

Lo más valioso fue entender que el tipo de levadura que utilices hará la diferencia. Y sobre todo comprender que existe una gran necesidad de explorar con sabores de cervezas sour. Para mí el mayor aprendizaje, y el más básico fue comprender que Ecuador se trata más de cervezas más vinculadas a las levaduras, en lugar de cervezas más enfocadas en lúpulos. De ese modo podríamos innovar hacia cervezas y cervecerías realmente locales. En los andes ya existe una larga data de bebidas fermentadas que necesitamos explorar.

En Portland fue grato charlar con Teri Fahrendorf, fundadora de Pink Boots Society y entender su visión y sueño detrás de este movimiento, el cual consiste en ayudar, inspirar y alentar a las mujeres en la industria cervecera a través de la educación. Este movimiento cada día crece más y se extiende hacia diversos lugares del mundo. En Ecuador existe un crecimiento de cervecerías lideradas por mujeres, ejemplos como Mut Cerveza Artesanal, Camino del Sol, Una Más, Nórdica Cerveza Artesanal, Cervecería Biero, Cherusker, Reina Cerveza artesanal, Ballesta entre otras. Así como un gran número de cervecerías ecuatorianas en donde las mujeres no sólo hacen cerveza, la comercializan, la promueven, la degustan, la analizan, y la viven. Un ejemplo de ello es que el pasado mes de septiembre, a propósito de la Copa Cervecera Mitad del Mundo se elaboró en Quito la primera cerveza colaborativa entre mujeres de diversas cervecerías locales e internacionales, la misma permitió el encuentro, la tertulia y el intercambio de experiencias para el nacimiento de un capítulo Pink Boots Society – Ecuador.

Actualmente en Zambo Creek hemos hecho cambios en detalles que han hecho una gran diferencia en nuestros productos finales, como la oxigenación del mosto. La activación de levaduras de manera adecuada. La limpieza en todo momento bajo procedimientos que nos permitan ofertar un producto de mayor calidad al final del proceso. Pero sobre todo la capacidad de mejorar, con fundamentos, las innovaciones que ya eran parte de nosotras desde que nació esta idea, pero que ahora tienen más claridad en la locura de probar cosas nuevas. Estamos en Ecuador, y ahora tenemos mucho por explorar, y muchos aprendizajes por probar provenientes de la gran experiencia resumida en estos párrafos. Gracias a Adam Bacchi y Lex Knutson de Beer Necessities en Seattle, al gran equipo de Fremont Brewing Company y a Pink Boots Society.

Kris McDowell

White Labs Yeast Essentials 2.0 Scholarship Recipient Announced

Scholarship Recipients

The Pink Boots Society is proud to announce that Erika Woodcock of Long Live Beerworks is the recipient of the 2017 White Labs Yeast Essentials 2.0 scholarship.

Chosen by the PBS Scholarship Selection Committee (SSC), five very experienced women beer professionals who hold positions as brewers, educators and writers, they chose Erika to receive this scholarship feeling “the course could help her to move to a QC/QA position and play a bigger role at the brewery. She is committed to share the knowledge in a chapter and to inspire other women to look for brewing education continuously.”

Erika is currently an assistant brewer at Long Live Beerworks, having transitioned from a similar role at Bucket Brewery mid-2016. Both breweries are small and she says, “we don’t always have the resources or space to propagate our own yeast.” After attending a yeast seminar and fueled by a science background, she’s found a renewed interest in the technical side of brewing, specifically yeast processes. Like many small operations Long Live reuses their yeast as many times as possible and Erika is looking forward to learning proper procedures for capturing, cleaning and storing, possibly even growing their own yeast. The knowledge she gains from the course will assist in increasing the quality and consistency of their beers by finding solutions existing yeast issues and provide her a starting point for additional education in the areas of QA/QC, yeast and microbiology. Ultimately she is seeking a bigger role in the brewery, possibly moving to the QA/QC side.

The White Labs Yeast Essentials 2.0 workshop is a two-day is an exploration of fermentation control points and how to maintain optimal yeast performance as well as develop desired flavor compounds. It will also cover off-flavor detection and sensory of different yeast strains, as well as troubleshooting problem fermentations. Two lab sections will be included, covering details on setting up a brewery lab, brewery quality control programs, and general lab techniques to implement these QC programs.

In addition to attending the course, Erika will receive a pair of pink steel-toe rubber boots when she fulfills the Pay It Forward requirement associated with the scholarship.