A group of Canberra women met recently to brew a beer and chat about the ups and downs of being a woman working in the industry. It was time to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Pink Boots Society at its brew day at Capital Brewing Co in Fyshwick.
The not-for-profit group aims to celebrate and encourage women in beer through education and empowerment. It began in the United States but now has chapters all over the world, including an active group in Australia.
The brew day was led by Capital brewer Sherri Dill and Pink Boots president Tiffany Waldron. Other participants included Capital Brewing and Bentspoke staff along with a few interstate brewers, beer industry professionals and this lucky food writer.
Sherri trained as a teacher but had a strong interest in beer. After moving to Australia from the US a few years ago, she started working at Capital Brewing Co, initially on the packaging team with a few stints on the brew deck. She took on a permanent role in the brewing team at the start of this year. Despite recent progress in the industry, it’s still a male dominated job.
“It’s almost abnormal to have a woman brewing at all,” she told Region.
“It’s hard to see yourself in a role if you don’t see people like you in that position.”
Although Sherri is currently the only female brewer at Capital, several other women now work in other areas of production and packaging. A predominantly female team also runs the taproom. Sherri also acknowledged the importance of having role models in the industry such as Bentspoke co-founder Tracey Margraim.
The brew day began with introductions and a safety briefing before heading onto the brew deck to start making the beer.
An interesting perk of the day was the opportunity to taste the progression of the beer along the way, which included a sip of the warm wort (water that has absorbed the flavours of malted grains). The taste of beer is altered dramatically with the introduction of hops, and by the fermentation process.
We also participated in a sensory exercise to smell several different hop blends and try to pick out their aromas and tastes.
Pink Boots has collaborated with Yakima Chief Hops to create a hop blend chosen by women. A portion of the sales will be donated to Pink Boots which uses its funds to provide scholarships and educational opportunities.
While brewing processes continued in the background, the group sat down for some ‘courageous conversations’ about the experiences of women in brewing. Talk covered experiences of sexism and inequality in brewing and other industries, how people felt about speaking up at work, and what initiatives members would like to see Pink Boots support.
Many women acknowledged positive change within the industry and felt safe to talk about negative experiences. They also enthusiastically discussed how to encourage more women to start brewing, and ways in which men could do more to change workplace culture.
Many shared stories about how they’d been able to learn from and collaborate with other like-minded women thanks to Pink Boots.
After fermenting for a couple of weeks, the beer brewed by Sherri and the Pink Boots participants is finally ready for the public!
Sherri took her inspiration from a creative and generous friend who baked her a pineapple upside down cake, adding pineapple juice and honey to the beer.
The pineapple upside down cake beer is available exclusively at the Capital Brewing Co taproom in Fyshwick until sold out.
The Capital Brewing Co. taproom at Dairy Flat Road, Fyshwick opens seven days a week from 11:30 am until late.