Please forgive the Mean Girls Reference, but with the Pink Boots Society’s Big Boots Brew Day falling on a Wednesday this year, I just couldn’t help myself!
I can’t think of a better way to spend International Women’s Day than hanging with some awesome and powerful women of the craft beer industry to make some beer! Not to mention an excuse to spend the day at one of my all-time favorite breweries, ToolShed Brewing Company. Two years ago to the same date, I also attended women’s brew day at ToolShed; was my first hands-on experience with the brewing process, and I was introduced to so many great people. I found it so inspiring that two years later I am even more involved with the Industry; still blogging about beer, but also as a member of the Executive team for CAMRA Alberta (Campaign for Real Ales) where I look after Social Media.
This is the third year the event has taken place in Alberta; there is no official chapter of the Pink Boots Society here, but that hasn’t stopped Alberta women from participating. The aim of the day is to get women together who are passionate about beer whether they brew as a hobby, for work, are involved in the industry, or just have a passion for the craft. This map shows just how far it reaches! So cool right!?
A number of breweries in Alberta participated this year; in addition to ToolShed, groups also headed to Banff Ave. Brewing, Big Rock Brewery, Blindman Brewing, The Dandy Brewing Company, The Grizzly Paw, and Mill Street Brewing. Every year the Pink Boots Society designates a suggested style, this year that was an Ancient or Historical Ale. We were supposed to brew a Heather beer, but some ingredients didn’t arrive in time, so we just brewed some tried and true People Skills Cream Ale. I was a little disappointed at first, but these things happen, and I was still just happy to be able to enjoy the day with everyone.
The cool thing about ToolShed is there are two female brewers there, so it truely was a women’s brew team the whole way through! Jess and Lisa were awesome and included us while they went through their daily gravity testing and other quality control tests on all the beers in progress. They also were polite enough not to laugh at the lack of upper body strength that “some people” – ok, me – had when lifting the bags of grain.
They were canning a batch of Star Cheek IPA that day as well, so we got to see their fancy canning system in action. Talk about efficiency! The last time when I did the women’s brew day they had a bunch of us back to help can the beer, and I somehow don’t think that will be needed this time around.
In true ToolShed fashion, Neil, Jeff, Graham, our brewing hostesses, bartender, and the whole team provided a level of hospitality that was second to none. They treated us to a fantastic lunch, let us try a variety of beers, made sure we all got a taste of the brew’s wort (the sugary liquid that comes out of the mashing process) and even let myself and a couple of other people take home a bag of spent grains. More on those later! But the icing on the cake had to be the clever little message they printed on the bottom of the batch they canned that day. I would say it was enough to make a gal blush, or in this case, a brewery full of gals!
A big thank you to ToolShed for hosting (more like putting up with) us for the day and cheers to another successful and insanely fun Women’s Brew Day!
P.s. Thanks, Stephanie, for the group photo, in the fury of cameras mine got missed! Check her out at globaldish.ca