Despite the pervasive stereotype of brewers generally being bearded white men, there are hundreds of women in this province making vital contributions to the craft beer industry. From brewers to owners, to tasting room managers, to sales, to frontline staff, that craft beer you love so much likely wouldn’t exist without the hard work and creativity of some very talented women.
However, the perception of craft beer as a male-dominated industry persists, and that can prevent some women from entering the field.
“The culture can be intimidating,” says Diana McKenzie, co-founder of Callister Brewing. “Even at my homebrew club, sometimes I’m the only woman there, out of, like, 50 people.”
This weekend, Callister is hosting the International Women’s Day Collaboration Brew, where 16 women will get to learn the basics of commercial brewing by taking part in a full-scale brew day. The participants come from different backgrounds and have wildly varying levels of brewing experience, but all of them are united by their love of beer.
McKenzie says she wants to break down the barriers for women entering the industry, and encourage them to fall in love with brewing.
“We want to create more accessibility and inclusion in the industry and the hobby itself,” she says. “It’s a challenging thing to take on, learning how to brew beer. There’s a lot of foundational knowledge required… so this is a way to support them.”
The brew day is part of a coordinated global initiative with similar brew days taking place in Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, U.K. and the U.S. This year’s theme is “exotic,” so McKenzie and her team will be brewing a Belgian golden strong recipe made with ginger, coriander and grains of paradise. The group will be reunited to launch the beer next month at the Callister’s tasting room, once the beer is ready.
“Most of these women won’t buy a starter kit on Monday—but maybe some of them will,” says McKenzie. “They’ll all know more about brewing then they did before, and hopefully that will inspire them.”
The brew day starts at 11am on Sunday with McKenzie and Morningstar Brewing’s Zuzana Modrovic leading the group through everything from mashing to lautering to pitching, and every step in between. The class is already full, but interest was so great that McKenzie says she wants to do another brew day in the spring.
For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page here.