Brew Like A Girl

12822959_10205018597218258_427009148_oHave you ever been surrounded by a group of uplifting and passionate people who understand things you go through and want you to succeed and give you warm fuzzies? If not, you seriously need to try that shit.

This past Saturday at Folly Brewpub, Christina Coady headed up a completely wonderful and educational brewing session for International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day. For more details on the awesomeness that is IWCBD, do yourself a favour and read her thoughts on it and sexism and the industry here. We brewed up something really special- Brett C Ale with Cascade and Calypso hops. It’ll be ready on April 16th at Folly Brewpub, and all proceeds from sales will be going to Working Women, an organization that provides services to help new Torontonians get on their feet. Keep your eyes out for this tasty brew, I’ll definitely be getting my hands on some (read: come drink with me on the 16th?)

The day was all about women brewing together, but really, it was about so much more than that, it was about artistry, quality, and encouragement. Christina says it best, “Everyone wants good beer and to feel welcomed…So please, stop it with the uncomfortable labels. Stop explaining beer to us. Just make and sell women great beer.” The group of women I was brewing with in the first session echoed these sentiments. My fellow east-ender, Erin Broadfoot (@ErinBroadfoot) explained that there have been many men in her career that have been instrumental in her education in brewing, and that isn’t something she magically forgets about. But it’s possible to recognize that AND also really hate the misogynistic labels and derogatory marketing that many breweries still make use of. It’s possible, as a woman, to brew with your husband, and still hate the way that bartenders treat you when you order a IIPA. In fact, that’s probably what makes it so difficult to deal with; the fact that it is so pervasively engrained in all of the menial things like getting interrupted when speaking, not just big huge things (although, beer has it’s share of glaring instances of sexism as well). We all swapped some of our war-stories, and griped about the dumbest comments we’ve ever heard, but that was only for a tiny part of the morning, the rest of the day was spent brewing a damned good beer with a bunch of cool new friends.

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Adding in Whirlfloc tablets for clarity- no filtering at Folly, just tasty, hazy goodness. Photo by Caroline Avery

Christina shared a ton of knowledge with us, and I had been dying to ask her about the freedom that being a small operation lends her. She went on to share with us that the fact that Folly is a strictly farmhouse and Belgian-inspired brewery allows them to do a lot of experimenting with yeast, which many bigger breweries don’t get to do without out tossing their bottling lines out a gigantic window immediately after packaging. Contamination, what a buzzkill. They have access to many ingredients that a lot of bigger breweries have a hard time getting- namely a lot of experimental yeast strains from great friends of Folly, Escarpment Labs.

Surprisingly, my favourite part was getting to spend time with so many women that are seasoned home-brewers. There’s something weirdly romantic about the way that the women were chatting about the different ways they filter water or chill the wort, and all of the mad-scientist methods they have developed. And also hearing about how home brewing has made a lot of them better cooks and bakers. It was inspiring to say the least; I could have listened to it all day.

Erin Broadfoot and I, new buds. Hit her up for all things BJCP related.

So what does this mean for feminism? You had a collaborative women’s brew day, now what? Well, this is the hard part. And it involves speaking out, it involves being supportive, and it involves EVERYONE- folks of every gender, calling out bullshit when they see it and demanding something better. We have to listen to all voices and we have to include everyone, or else this remarkable thing that we all love- beer- isn’t really all that awesome.

Ferment away, sweet yeasties.

Anyway, those are just my thoughts, I’m still a new voice to this issue and this industry. So this is where I direct you to further reading from some eloquent and important people.

On inclusivity- Robin LeBlanc Queer Beers  & Inherent Weisse

On Exclusion in General- Ben Johnson Let’s Stop Beersplaining 

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