Back in the day…I’m talking centuries ago, women ruled the brewhouses. In fact, prior to the Industrial Revolution, 92% of beer was brewed by women. However, post-Industrial Revolution, that number waned significantly and brewing shifted to factories operated by men.
Fast forward to 2015 and not much has changed from that initial paradigm shift. The beer world, specifically craft beer, is dominated by white males in terms of production, and Caucasians in terms of enjoyment. Across the country, less than a dozen breweries are owned and/or operated by females. At this point in the craft beer revolution, women make up just a small segment of a niche market that’s growing and evolving by leaps and bounds.
But that small segment is making a helluva lot of noise. And, as was proven at the Unite Red Jambieree, these women are brewing some kick ass beer, too!
On April 8th, 2015, craft beer enthusiasts were treated to the Unite Red Oak Aged Scottish Ale launch party at Sing Sing in The Waterfront, the dueling piano bar connected to Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery. This beer was a product of International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day, which took place on March 8th and featured gatherings of 80 groups of women from across the world and, here in Pittsburgh, the collaborative efforts of women from great breweries such as the aforementioned Rock Bottom, Grist House Brewing, Hitchhiker Brewing, Malteurop, Penn Brewery, Craft Beer School, and Victory Brewing Company.
This wasn’t exactly your father’s launch party. It featured carnival games including ring toss, darts, Plinko, and a very challenging game of tossing a ping pong ball into a pint glass. Even those with advanced beer pong skills were humbled by this one. Beer trivia was also a game of choice and, trust me, the questions weren’t gimmes. After a rough first round, this blogger is happy to report total redemption on my second go at it. Cheers to maintaining credibility…
Each game awarded raffle tickets for a collection of great prizes donated by Vecenie Distributing, Hitchhiker, Grist House, Spoonwood Brewing, Apis Mead & Winery, and several other awesome donors. I’m happy to say my ticket was drawn for the jam-packed swag haul featured to the right, donated by Vecenie!
Fun, games, and prizes aside, this event held tremendous significance in regards to women’s contributions to Pittsburgh’s craft beer scene. Our local brewery scene is getting better at every juncture, and a large amount of that is due to what these women do in their respective breweries. From brewing to bartending to chalkboard art to creating a warm, welcoming taproom environment, each plays a special role in their brewery’s success and this event was a solid demonstration of their skills. Meg Evans, brewer at Rock Bottom, and her Unite Red team did it all. From conceiving the idea for their beer to organizing and promoting the launch party, there was a ton of work that went into ensuring this party went off without a hitch. From an event attendee’s perspective, I can say they accomplished their mission.
The end product of these collaborative efforts proved once and for all that ladies know their way around the brew kettle. The beer itself, a Scottish Ale aged on American Oak and Sangiovese Mead from Apis Meadery, was the brain child of the Pink Boots Society. It pours a dark red and is very well-balanced and approachable. Those who shy away from hoppy beers will find this offering easy to drink and smooth on the palate.
I’d like to thank Meg and the entire team of ladies for hosting a great launch party last night. It was well-organized and a total blast! Also, thank you to all the great volunteers and entities across Pittsburgh that contributed time, prizes, food, and more to help this Jambieree come out a winner.
Above all, I’d like raise a virtual pint to all the female brewers who contributed to creating the beer for which we all gathered and enjoyed. Your efforts paid off with the ales that flowed throughout the evening. Undoubtedly, female brewers across the world are sharing in similar celebration over the fruits of their labor from IWCBD, and there’s absolutely no way to discount what you’ve brought to the beer world.
As the craft beer landscape continues to change, there’s no question the roles females play will make a significant impact on this evolution.