The Women of Beer concept us proving to be one that has legs. Legs adorned, in many cases, with bright pink boots.
What began, in Australia at least, as a group of women working in the local beer industry – brewers, brewery owners, presenters – joining forces as the Victorian Women of Beer for a series of events and brews has gathered considerable momentum.
Since hooking into the work of the Pink Boots Society that works on behalf of women in the beer industry worldwide, there have been scholarships, more events and more brews. Last year, local ladies took part in the first International Women's Collaboration Brew Day and on March 8 this year they did it again. Except this time around there wasn't a mere one brew but five in different states.
The five local brews – all based around the same Unite Red Ale concept – were among more than 80 all female brews taking place in 11 countries across the planet to coincide with International Women's Day. They were presented with a recipe formulated by event founder and brewster Sophie de Ronde of Muntons Malt, with the global event coordinated by Denise Ratfield of Pink Boots Society.
Among the international breweries taking part were Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and Cigar City Brewing, with the five local brews taking place at Two Birds Brewing, both locations of Young Henrys, Burleigh Brewing and Wheaty Brewing Corps.
And, with five brews taking place within the one country, there was in some cases a deviation from the recipe set out by Sophie.
"We decided that five breweries brewing the same beer in our market was probably not a good plan as people would be selling to many of the same venues so there were a few variations of a red ale," says Jayne Lewis of Two Birds.
"In WA they used some red wine grapes, Sam [at Young Henrys in Newtown] did a spiced red IPA and we did an imperial red ale with hibiscus."
The success of the brew day took Jayne by surprise, with an open day attracting "stacks of people coming down to check it out, which was incredibly cool.
"There was a really nice, little vibe," says Jayne.
Among those taking part in the first WA brew was regular Crafty Pint contributor Pia "girl plus beer" Poynton, who had this to say of the day:
Hawaiian short shorts, grape stomping and a brewhouse that doesn't have any walls or roof were all memorable parts of the first West Australian event for International Women's Collaboration Brew Day.
Breweries from Brazil to Japan, Australia and throughout Europe and the US hosted a women's brew day to celebrate and support women in beer. Each year a different beer style is selected for the day but, as always in this industry, creative flair and unique twists are welcome, if not demanded.
This year the style was Unite Red Ale.
And unite we did, about a dozen women from a range of beer related backgrounds from Perth and the south west arrived at Young Henrys Beer Farm in Metricup, near Margaret River, to start mashing in just after 9am. Chloe and Charlotte, brewers at the self declared beer farm, were generous and welcoming as they hosted the day at their brewery which is still waiting on four walls and a roof.
In searching for inspiration for a unique WA twist we could put on the red ale style we looked no further than up the road: Gale Road to be precise where you'll find Young Henrys Beer Farm and also Churchview Winery.
Approximately ten kilos of Churchview's Zinfandel grapes ended up whole in the mash; it would have been eleven kilos but we found it hard not to snack on every other grape as we picked them off the dense bunches. More grapes were thrown into bags and squashed by a few sets of feet to a chorus of laughs and the resulting 40 or so litres of juice was tipped in the boil after a generous hopping with Enigma, an Australian hop variety. The malt bill included some wheat, medium crystal, Munich and pale.
We don't know exactly how the beer will turn out, nor did we manage to give it a name yet but we can't wait to try the finished brew.
Even though it's a women in beer event we didn't put out the "no boys allowed" sign on the cubby house, but instead welcomed men of the brewing community to visit and support the day too. Ryan from Bootleg, several of the Young Henry Beer Farm friends and Paul from Colonial helped celebrate the event with us. Paul even broke out a special pair of shorts for the afternoon; tropical short shorts will never look the same to me again.
It was remarkable to be a part of the day, not just because its an international event but more because it was the first time WA has been represented. From mash to boil it was uplifting and inspiring to work with and talk to passionate women from all over the beer industry, women like Alex from Colonial Brewing who shucks a mean oyster and helps out in the brewery and the restaurant, and Chloe and Charlotte who not only shared their brewery with us but also their knowledge and enthusiasm to get everyone to get involved in the process.
We brewed just 20 hectolitres and it will be available in kegs only with a list of venues to be advised but we are busy lining up a venue to launch this special beer so keep your eyes peeled.
There are plans for a coordinated launch day of all five beers across the country in the middle of next month. April 12 is suggested – watch this space for details...