Over the last five years, during the week of International Women’s Day (March 3 – 10th), women in the brewing industry from around the world have been getting together to collaborate on a brew, with proceeds going back to the Pink Boots Society. Most women and teams try to brew on the actual day, March 8th, but it does not always work out, especially with so many groups wanting to meet up and collaborate. What started out in the first year one with 60 brewers in five countries has grown now to include 240 teams from over ten countries. The growth is amazing and I am so proud to have been a part of it for the last four years.
Who are the Pink Boots Society®?
The Pink Boots Society is a non-profit international organization that was founded in 2007 by Teri Fahrendorf, a professional brewer for 19 years. The PBS teaches, supports and encourages women in the brewing industry or wanting to get into the brewing industry. Most importantly, it helps advance beer careers for women by raising money for educational scholarships.
What is the 2018 Pink Boots Brew Collaboration beer style?
Every year, a team of women, usually led by a member of the Pink Boots Society® , gets together to brew a beer based on a style suggestion. From 2014 to 2017 there were specific brew requests with suggested hops or malt profiles. This year, due to the sponsorship of YCH Hops, out of Yakima, Washington, a “Pink Boots Blend” was created for the society and became the only requirement. For 2018 the blend was Citra, Simcoe, Mosaic, Loral and Palisade. How could you go wrong with that combination? When opening the bag on arrival, you knew the beer would be a hop bomb! And, as a bonus, YCH HOPS will be donating $3 from each pound sold back to the PBS scholarship funds!
So, what did we brew in Canada?
Of the 18 (yes, 18!) brews, Alberta was the most prolific province, providing 12 of them! BC brewed four, with Ontario and New Brunswick each brewing one. A few of these beers will be reviewed as part of the tasting panel in the near future.
THE WEST COAST
The biggest brew in BC (and the one that I was apart of ) was held in Vancouver and hosted by Bomber Brewing. The style choice was a very juicy, hop forward New World-style hazy IPA that we called “Pink Haze”. What was extra exciting for me is that this was the first year that the product was packaged. Due to the passion of co-owner Kayla Vear of the newly opened, Mile 37 mobile canning line, we had a sponsor for the canning, labeling and design. And thanks to Bomber Brewing we had distribution.
The brewers from Coast Mountain Brewing in Whistler and the yet-to-be-opened Pemberton Valley Beerworks got together with a few ladies from the area to create the “Pink Boots ISA,” a very crushable and highly aromatic and hoppy India session ale, in kegs with a very limited supply of 650mL bottles. The support was huge in the Whistler area.
From up north in Quesnel, Erin Dale, head brewer at Barkerville Brewing, took the lead, along with two breweries from Prince George (one yet unopened) as well as women from Gambrius Malting in Armstrong to create their Hurdy Gurdy Hibiscus pale ale. They also had a graphic designer, Emily Luce, who used only female-made fonts, and designer Alanna Munro donated one of these fonts “TofinoPro” for this brew. The beer has been so popular that Barkerville is in the process of making an additional brew!
And from picturesque Nelson, Torchlight Brewing, led by assistant brewer Kerilyn Faulkner joined up with three other breweries in the area and some avid home brewers to create “Harmonia Hoppy Saison”, a harmonious blend of a saison and a hoppy pale ale. The combination makes for a very juicy and slightly citrusy and tasty ale. It is only available on tap but a few bottles were hand-bottled and labeled for a limited few. It appears to be a hit among those people who don’t like hoppy beers as well as those that do!
Breweries in Alberta have taken part in the Pink Boots brew for at least the last four years with Old College Brewery and Tool Shed being the first. While in the past few years there were less brews with more collaborations, this year a lot more breweries just went out on their own to create this one-time brew. Twelve breweries with twelve brews and styles ranging from gruits, blonde ales, pale ales, ISAs, IPAs to DIPAs! In addition to the breweries from previous years (Banff Ave Brewing, Blindman Brewing, Grizzly Paw Brewing, Old College Brewing, Village Brewing, Mill Street Brewpub, Wild Rose Brewery – and sorry if I missed any), it was great to see a few new ones, including: Banded Peak and Cold Garden Beverage Co, Trolley 5 (co-owner by PJ L’Heureux, brainchild of Craft Beer market) and the just newly opened nano-brewery, Red Bison! Well done Alberta!
Hard to believe there was only one brew this year from Ontario. Hopefully there will be many in the years to come.
This is the second year that The Mill Street Brewpub in Toronto has been a part of the Pink Boots Brew. Led by master brewer Kaitlin Vandenbosch and head distiller Martha Lowry, this year’s team brewed “She’ll Be Right pale ale”, a very sessionable pale ale at 4.4% using Vermont yeast for extra juiciness and all Australian hops. The name of the ale is an Australian slang meaning, “It’ll all be okay.” This beer was actually brewed in February and was released on tap and for growler fills on International Women’s Day.
THE EAST COAST
There is only one brew from the Atlantic Provinces and this one is a true collaboration of two New Brunswick breweries: Les Brasseurs du Petit – Sault from Edmundston (a regular participant of the Pink Boots Brew) and Big Tide Brewing from Saint John. The lead and head brewer (and only brewer) for this brew was Wendy Papadopoulos, owner and head brewer for Big Tide Brewing. The style choice for this brew was a collaborative effort and also one of the few brews in Canada that decided not to use the YCH hops and instead went for a chocolate porter with maple syrup! Why did they not use the Pink Boots hop blend? The team at Petit-Sault had never brewed a porter, while Wendy at Big Tide has, and the idea of taking one of their signature ales, Phémie-la-Bootlegger, traditionally a maple brown ale, and changing the recipe to a porter sounded like a fun challenge.
So, maybe in 2019 we can have more women in Canada get onboard and brew some amazing brews from every province. We can do it! But for now, time for you to head to one of these host breweries, to a liquor store or do some beer trades. That’s what I’m doing!