By Lundy Dale, Pink Boots Society Vancouver chapter leader
Over the last five years, the Pink Boots Society has created an event for women in the brewing industry from around the world to get together to collaborate on a brew, and help to provide awareness of the women’s roles in the brewing industry in honour of International Women’s Day. What started out in the first year with 60 brewers in five countries has grown now to include 240 teams from more than 10 countries. It is now known as the Pink Boots Collaboration Brew and it brings together all women in the industry, from home brewers, to sales reps, brand ambassadors, brewers and owners. The growth has been amazing and I am so proud to have been a part of it since Year 2 in 2015!
What is 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. While the bulk of the chapters of the Pink Boots Society are primarily spread out across America, Canada does have two, one based in Toronto and the other here in Vancouver. Last year, one of our very own—Diana McKenzie from Callister Brewing—was a recipient of one of the Pink Boots scholarships and got to travel and attend some schooling in Germany.
What is the Pink Boots Brew Collaboration Brew?
Since 2014, a group of the Pink Boot ladies would collectively come up with a beer style and basic parameters for all teams. In 2015, Vancouver partook with Claire Wilson of then yet-to-be-opened Dogwood Brewing leading us all. We had a small group and brewed that year’s style—a red ale. One of the participants, Rebecca Kneen from Crannog, even provided hops from her own farm! Also joining our team that year was Leah Heneghan from Vancouver Craft Beer Week, Rachaal Steele from Bomber, Diana McKenzie from Callister, Ashley Brooks (now with Four Winds) and a few students from Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s brewing diploma program. The following year we met back up at Dogwood and brewed up a batch of a nice and uncomplicated Gose.
We moved on as a larger group in 2017 to brew under the leadership of Brooks, at the time, the head brewer for Big Ridge. We also welcomed ladies from Luppolo Brewing, Red Truck Brewing and Foamers’ Folly and managed to brew enough beer to have kegs and spread the Pink Boots beer joy to a few taprooms in Vancouver, including Dogwood, Luppolo, Callister, R&B and Red Truck Brewing.
2018 was a real game changer for our group and showed considerable growth! 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, WA, 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. And, as a bonus, YCH Hops donated $3 from each pound sold, back to the PBS scholarship funds.
Our Pink Boots Collaboration Brew group was hosted at Bomber Brewing with Rachel Young as our lead. The style choice was a very juicy, hop-forward Northeast-style hazy IPA that we named Pink Haze. What was extra exciting was that this was the first year that the product was packaged in tall cans for retail. Due to the passion of the full team 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 to many of the private liquor stores in Vancouver, Greater Vancouver and the Island.
Also for the first time, we had more than one group take part. The brewers from Coast Mountain Brewing in Whistler and the yet-to-be-opened Pemberton Valley Beer Farmers 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 650 mL bottles.
Up north in Quesnel, Erin Dale, head brewer at Barkerville Brewing took the lead with two breweries from Prince George, as well as women from Gambrinus Malting in Armstrong, to create their Hurdy Gurdy Hibiscus Pale Ale. The beer was so popular that not only did they bottle it but they brewed a second batch.
And in picturesque Nelson, Torchlight Brewing, led by assistant brewer Kerilyn Faulkner and joined by three other breweries in the area with some avid home brewers, created Harmonia Hoppy Saison, a harmonious cross between a saison and a hoppy pale ale. All the various collaboration brews were so popular with these breweries that all the lead brewers are back on board for another year.
What’s new this year?
And here we are in 2019, with the our Vancouver group heading back to Dogwood Brewing to brew with this year’s Pink Boots Blend: a well-rounded mix of Pacific Northwest hops including Loral, a super noble hop with notes of floral and herbal; Mosaic, bringing tropical aromas with earthy richness and flavours including mango, blueberry and stone fruit; and Simcoe, described as being both fruity and earthy with notes of berry, apricot, passion fruit, and citrus, but also has pronounced aromas of pine and woodsy earth.
Also in the mix is Sabro, brand HBC 438, an aroma hop with notes of fruity and citrus flavours and also imparts distinct notes of tangerine, coconut, tropical fruit as well as stone fruit with just hints of cedar. And lastly, Glacier hops will add light bittering and aroma with an earthy, slightly floral character and sweet citric edge. Not sure what we are brewing yet, but you know with that combination of hops it will be a tasty one!
Along with our group at Dogwood Brewing reuniting, the teams from Barkerville, Coast Mountain and Torchlight are also back on board. And this year there is even more ladies leading brew teams, including Kala Hadfield at Spinnakers Brewpub in Victoria, Brenda Miller from Beer Farmers in Pemberton, Patt Dyck and Kim Lawton of Cannery Brewing in Penticton, Diana McKenzie at Callister, Nancy More from KPU Brewing School in Langley and Rachel Young at Turning Point in Delta. Quite a growth, from one group and one brew to 10 this year!
So in April, head on off to your favourite private liquor store or the 10 participating breweries and find any Pink Boots Brew that is on tap, in a can, bottle or growler fill, and know that not only will you be having a great tasting brew, but you will be supporting the women in the B.C. brewing industry!
To learn more about the Pink Boots Society, visit PinkBootsSociety.org.