International Women’s Day is Friday, March 8, and breweries across the country are preparing for a special event: the eighth-annual Collaboration Brew Day, hosted by the Pink Boots Society (PBS). The PBS is a professional organization whose stated mission is to “assist, inspireand encourage women beer industry professionals to advance their careers through education.”
This international event is intended to raise awareness for the large and growing role of women in the beer industry, as well as to raise funds to support the educational and career opportunities the PBS provides. Over a series of days, women all over the world, from brewers to industry professionals to homebrewers — and even those with no beer experience at all — will gather to brew up something special for a good cause.
Bringing Women in Beer Together
Every year, PBS members and chapters join teams led by participating local breweries, homebrewers and clubs. Each team brews a beer of their chosen style, with their own unique twist: from IPAs to hoppy blondes and hazy pales, or anything they can dream up, and always with a creative name. The only stipulation is that teams use the designated PBS Brew Day hops blend, supplied through a partnership with Yakima Chief Hops.
Portions of the proceeds from Brew Day beer sales are donated to PBS, though individual breweries and teams can determine the way they want to handle sales and donations. Among other options, they may choose to give a fixed amount, regardless of sales; donate a percentage of each pint or keg sold; or hold a launch party for the beer and donate a portion of the profits.
This will also be the first year that part of the proceeds will go back to each team’s local PBS chapter. This will help build community and financial support for individual groups in the area, which they can use to sponsor scholarships, host special events and more.
“The whole purpose is to get women together, brewing and having fun,” says Cheyenne Weishaar, leader of the Seattle PBS chapter. “A lot of women in the industry aren’t actually on the production side, or aren’t brewers, so this is a really good opportunity to [gather] women who are sales reps, are working in the taproom or who work in marketing and social media, and get them all together so they can learn.”
While the event honors International Women’s Day, participants of all genders are encouraged to join, and are not required to be PBS members. Teams are also not required to have a female brewer, as long as the team captain is a PBS member. This allows anyone who loves beer to get involved in the local scene, while getting educated about opportunities for women in the field.
“We’re trying to open this up to anyone who’s interested,” Weishaar says, adding that in addition to fundraising for PBS, the primary purpose of Brew Day is to have “a collaborative team-building event that culminates in a beer.”
Collaboration Brew Day events are held on a date of the team’s choosing, falling as close as possible to March 8. For a list of participating breweries, or to join a team, visit the PBS Brew Day page.
PicoBrew Joins the Seattle PBS Brew Day Lineup
As we do every year, PicoBrew will be joining in the festivities with a Collaboration Brew Day event. It will be held on Friday, March 8 at 8:30 a.m. PST at Lucky Envelope Brewing — a PicoBrew Brewer’s Network (PBN) partner. We can’t wait to participate in this fun event and help promote the advancement of women in beer!
“We like supporting Collaboration Brew Day because it raises money for the Pink Boots Society, which supports women in all facets of the beer industry through training and scholarships,” says Master Brewer at PicoBrew Annie Johnson. “It’s also a nice chance to get together with other women in the area who are interested in beer.”
A number of breweries in PicoBrew’s home of Washington state are hosting their own events. Here’s a look at how other local teams are supporting women in beer by participating in PBS Collaboration Brew Day:
Seattle PBS Chapter leader Weishaar is also a brewer. She works at Dru Bru in Snoqualmie, Washington, where she hosted her first Collaboration Brew Day last year. She will be host a repeat event this year on Sunday, March 10, so those who don’t work in the industry can have a chance to pitch in outside of normal business hours.
Weishaar is also uplifted by the number of breweries across Washington state planning to participate in this year’s festivities. She encourages anyone who is interested in supporting PBS or learning more about the brewing process to join a team.
“Raising awareness is the number-one goal for all of us, … [as well as] having people who might not be in the craft brewing industry talking about it and creating a buzz,” Weishaar says. “We’re trying to get as many breweries who want to participate as possible.”
Dru Bru will be creating a single-hopped Double IPA, aptly named the Alpha Female Double IPA. It will be available for purchase in their taproom, with portions of the proceeds going back to PBS.
With a majority of its leadership being ladies, PBN partner Stoup Brewing knows a thing or two about women in beer, and supports PBS Collaboration Brew Day each year. Brewer and Cicerone Robyn Schumacher will lead the team, which will also include Co-Owner and Head of Marketing & Communications Lara Zahaba.
“We love to be involved with the Pink Boots Brew Day, because two out of the three owners at Stoup are women,” Schumacher says. “We feel that it’s important and exciting to expose more women to our industry. It’s also a really fun day!”
As part of the event, Zahaba will lead a discussion about her role at Stoup. Brad Benson, the brewery’s third co-owner and head of all things brewing, will also host a talk about how Stoup achieves quality control.
Stoup’s Collaboration Brew Day event will be held Tuesday, March 12, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The team will be brewing “Pink Socks & Sandals” — a dry-hopped Grisette (a hoppier farmhouse-style ale brewed with malted wheat) with a Pacific Northwest twist. It will be available for purchase in the Stoup taproom later in the month for all who wish to show their support.
Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery
As Washington state’s first member-owned and -operated brewery, Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery is well-versed in collaboration. Its third-annual Brew Day event will be held Saturday, March 9, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
They chose to hold their event on the weekend rather than the “official” date of March 8 in order to give more members a chance to participate, says Board of Directors member Lisa Green. Flying Bike team members get the unique opportunity to meet with the head brewer ahead of time; help determine what style to brew; and choose the ingredients to use.
This year, the team will be crafting “a hop-accented, medium-strength Red Ale using the Pink Boots blended hops,” says Board of Directors member Austin Rood.
“Last year, we had about 12 lady co-op members come in and spend the day participating in the brew process from beginning to end, and we’re hoping to have even more members join in this year,” Green says. “We have a unique take on it, since our members get to drive the process and ultimately create our Pink Boots recipe, which is one of the things we pride ourselves on in being a member-driven cooperative.”
Optimism Brewing and the Fierce Ladies Beer Fest
Located in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, Optimism Brewing will be participating in Brew Day on Monday, March 11 by conjuring up a magical batch of Unicorn IPA. Just like the mythical creature it’s named for, no two Unicorns are the same, with a recipe that changes slightly every time it’s brewed.
Always single-hopped and sessionable, this extra-special batch will use the Yakima Chief Hops blend to make the Unicorn “even more flavorful, and just as magical as it was last year,” says Community Outreach and Events Manager and Tasting Room staff member Shalini Kumar.
Optimism will also host the Fierce Ladies Beer Fest again this year: a festival showcasing the various beers crafted on Collaboration Brew Day. It will be held Thursday, April 25, 2019 at Optimism Brewing Company.
Kumar says that during last year’s festival, “all these awesome women brewers from the Seattle area came and brought their own batches of beer. It’s very cool to see, because beer is such a male-dominated industry; it’s rare to see this much representation at once.”
Not only will the event celebrate the women and beer of PBS Brew Day, it will also raise awareness for the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements, Kumar adds, since if there is such rampant harassment occurring within the government and the entertainment industry, “you can only imagine the levels of misconduct going on in the service industry.”
Optimism hopes to cast an even wider net with this year’s festival than the 11 breweries that attended last year. This year, they hope to have 15 to 20 local breweries represented, including PicoBrew, Elysian Brewing, Reuben’s Brews and Bale Breaker Brewing, among others.
It will be “an all-gender event to demonstrate that beer isn’t just a man’s drink, it’s for everyone,” Kumar says.
A staple of the “brewery district” in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, Reuben’s Brews is 50-percent woman-owned. Co-founded by husband-and-wife team Adam and Grace Robbings, the brewery is a strong supporter of PBS (and hosted the Jan. 2019 Seattle-area chapter meeting).
“We love the mission of Pink Boots Society to empower women, who are underrepresented in the beer industry, through education and training,” says Grace Robbings. “The Pink Boots Brew Day is a fun time for women to come together; brew great beer; reflect on where we’ve been; see how far we’ve come; and plan together how we can realize our ambitions.”
Last year, the Reuben’s team created the “Pink Elephant,” a White Stout brewed with raspberries:
This year, their Collaboration Brew Day event will be held on Wednesday, March 6, at the Reuben’s Brews Brewery and Taproom. They’re crafting a Pacific Northwest Amber Ale, the “Crimson Coast,” which will be released on draft in the taproom later in the month.
Bale Breaker Brewing Company
At Bale Breaker Brewing Company in Yakima, Washington, support for women in beer is central to their founding ethos. Owner Meghann Quinn says the inspiration came from her great-grandmother, who started the family’s fourth-generation hop farm in 1932 — just down the road from where the brewery stands today. One of Bale Breaker’s flagship beers, the Leota Mae IPA, is named in her honor.
“While this may be a male-dominated industry, I’m proud to be surrounded by powerful, hardworking women at Bale Breaker — a prime example being our quality/sensory manager, and founder/president of the Yakima PBS chapter, Jackie [Beard],” says Quinn.
“What’s especially cool about our chapter, and the chance to bring women together for the PBS Brew Day, is how unique a place Yakima is for the beer industry,” she continues. Yakima is a hotbed of beer and hop production, and Quinn says their event “draws women who work at area breweries, hop farms and hop processing companies. It’s a good time to be a woman in the beer/hop industry in Yakima!”
The Bale Breaker Collaboration Brew Day event will be held at the brewery on Friday, March 8, where they will be brewing the Hildegard’s Hazy IPA. And of course, you can support PBS and the Yakima Chapter by purchasing the beer in the taproom after it’s crafted.
“It’s named for Hildegard Von Bingen, a 12th-century German abbess who described the preservative powers of hops in beer, paving the way for today’s delicious IPAs,” says Beard. “Hildegard’s Hazy will be exclusively sold in our taproom … at the beginning of April.”
Georgetown Brewing Company
Another regular participant in the Brew Day festivities is Georgetown Brewing Company, located in Seattle’s beer-friendly Industrial District. They will be hosting their event at the brewery on Friday, March 8 at 7:30 a.m. They will be brewing a Pale Ale, which will be available for purchase in growlers after the event.
Elysian Brewing Company
Seattle stalwart Elysian Brewing Company wouldn’t miss this year’s event, and will be hosting their own brew day on Friday, March 8 at the Elysian Taproom and Brewery on Airport Way.
Their team will be crafting an Elderflower Saison called “Respect the Elder” — an appropriate name for a beer brewed in honor of female empowerment! It will be available on draft at Elysian locations across Seattle.