There was less shouting, Keana McMahon said, less bickering and “definitely a lot less belching.”
So that’s what happens, it seems, when men are booted from the brewing process and women take over.
Last month at Rock Bottom Brewery in Homestead, McMahon and other members of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Pink Boots Society met to brew a hoppy saison (named Saison de Rose), then met again the following week at North Country Brewing Co. in Slippery Rock to brew “Pink Lady,” a cream ale dry-hopped with hibiscus and conditioned on pink guava and passion fruit.
Those beers will be available April 18 at Federal Galley and at breweries who contributed to the women-only collaboration.
Pink Boots Society is an international organization that helps women break into the craft beer industry or advance their careers through grants and scholarships. There are more than 50 chapters in the U.S., plus several international chapters in locations including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Chile, Costa Rica and Hong Kong.
Pink Boots Society “is incredibly important,” said Rock Bottom’s Head Brewer Meg Evans.
“They offer two scholarships a month now, [which] gives women an opportunity to advance their careers,” she said. “So many women are excited and wanting to build this network here in Pittsburgh — we’ve seen an influx of women feeling confident in the craft industry.”
In celebration of International Women’s Day in March, Pink Boots members around the globe team up for International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day. It’s been an annual tradition since 2014.
The first Pink Boots collaboration beer I tasted was “Unite Red,” an oak-aged Scottish Ale the Pittsburgh Chapter brewed in 2015. Three years later, it remains one the best beers I’ve ever tasted anywhere: Hearty but smooth, malty with low hop bitterness, notes of chocolate and berry.
Here’s where you can find this year’s collaboration beers on tap (check with your local brewer for tap dates):
- 11th Hour Brewing
- Federal Galley
- Grist House
- Hop Farm Brewing
- North Country’s Harmony Inn
- Rock Bottom
- Shu Brew
- Yellow Bridge Brewing
Other contributors to the collaboration came from Stewards of Beer, Apis Mead & Winery, Hitchhiker, Independent Brewing Co., and Roundabout Brewery.
For 11th Hour’s McMahon, this was her first Pink Boots brew day.
“We didn’t have as much ego in the room that day,” she said. “You’d be surprised at how much men can bicker.”
While today’s craft beer scene is heavily dominated by men, women are making an impact on craft’s recent rise: Nearly one-third of U.S. craft beer is now consumed by women, according to the Brewer’s Association.
Perhaps it’s a sign of beer culture returning to its roots: After all, women were the original brewers.
Perhaps someday, a beer brewed exclusively by women won’t seem like a curiosity. Perhaps someday the quality of a beer won’t be judged on the gender of the brewer.
But that day has not arrived, McMahon said
“The night before we brewed at Rock Bottom a brewer from another brewery was in our taproom and I was telling him about the Pink Boots brew,” she recalls. “I made the comment that Meg would only have us there from 7:30 a.m. till 2 p.m. and I joked that it took our guys a lot longer.
“He says to me, ‘Meg must have her guys doing all the hard work.’ That really ticked me off. It made me realize we still have still so far to go to be taken seriously in this industry.”
But, she adds: “Pink Boots is young and will continue to grow.”
Salud, na zdravie, prost and cheers to that.