To celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD), held every year on March 8th, women of the brewing world usually get together for a special collaboration brew day.

Often organized by chapters of the Pink Boots Society®, an organization created to “assist, inspire, and encourage women beer industry professionals to advance their careers through education,” these brew days offer a great opportunity to learn more about the craft brewing industry.

In BC, Pink Boots has an established chapter in Vancouver and many of the lower mainland’s female brewers get together around this time of year for a brew day, held this year at Callister Brewing. In fact, Callister is hosting a women’s collaboration brew every month this year as part of their Callister Women’s Collab Series so keep an eye out for more of those beers coming this year!

Vancouver’s Container Brewing is releasing their special IWD brew on March 8th with all of the proceeds from the beer being donated to Atira, an east Vancouver women’s charity. New Westminster’s Steel & Oak created a special beer in celebration of IWD as well. The Égalité Oat Ale features pomegranate, key lime, and red currant and will be released during their fundraiser on March 8th (from 5pm to 11pm) held at The Terminal Pub in New Wesminster.

The women of Steel & Oak brewing their International Women’s Day collaboration beer.

Another Pink Boots collaboration brew is being organized at Slackwater Brewing in Penticton on March 8th too. And the women of Penticton’s Cannery Brewing also got together for a brew day and are launching their limited release beer, named Ceres after the Roman goddess, on IWD, with a portion of proceeds going to Pink Boots as well.

This Mango Milkshake IPA is named after the Roman goddess of agriculture, grain, crops, fertility, and motherly relationships.

In honour of the female pioneers of beer and their long history with brewing, these events help make the presence of women in the industry visible and encourage more of them to get involved at whatever level they’re interested in. 

The women of Cannery Brewing on their brew day supporting Pink Boots Society.

Other breweries around the province participate in this yearly tradition as well, putting their own unique flavour on it. This year, Kelowna’s Rustic Reel Brewing is hosting a full-day IWD program called A Reel Day Retreat to mark the occasion.  And another notable example of a collaboration brew day is found on the Northern BC Ale Trail. BC’s only all-female operated brewery, Barkerville Brewing Co. in downtown Quesnel, recently hosted an event with an especially appropriate purpose in mind.

Barkerville Brewing Co.’s #IWD2020 Collaboration Brew

Barkerville Brewing Co. hosted their third annual collaboration brew in the brewhouse on February 21st. Participants included colleagues from neighbouring communities like CrossRoads Brewing & Distillery in Prince George, Bulkley Valley Brewery and Smithers Brewing Company in Smithers, Wheelhouse Brewing Company in Prince Rupert, and Gambrinus Malting in Vernon.

Head brewer, Erin, has been working on the recipe for this gruit-style beer for a few years now, trying to perfect it for a noble cause – to ease the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Mixing aspects of herbalism into the brewing process, the recipe uses rosehip, chamomile, yarrow, and juniper branches.

These ingredients were selected for their medicinal properties. Together they help reduce common ailments like inflammation, cramping, and bloating. They also work to improve circulation, regulate hormones, and relieve stress and anxiety. Previous test batches have received wild praise from men and women alike. The brew features tasting notes of “an aromatic, floral nose followed by a light savoury earthiness with zesty lemon citrus and a dry finish.”

I am really pleased with the turn out this year! So many of our fellow Northern Breweries participated in our event in support of women’s health. It’s so nice to see how this event has become more inclusive each year, in our case that means it’s not just women in the brewhouse!

Even though this was technically not a Pink Boots Collaboration Brew, hosting an open house in our community really supports education and peer to peer learning which is what Pink Boots is all about.” -Erin Dale, Head Brewer at Barkerville Brewing Co.

Previous Collaboration Brews at Barkerville Brewing Co.

Since hosting their first IWD brew day in 2018, the team behind the brewery has seen interest in craft beer slowly grow in their own community. Each year, more men and women visit their tasting room and get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the industry through gateway events like these.

Always cleverly on theme, the first collaboration brew day produced the Hurdy Gurdy Hibiscus Pale Ale, paying homage to Barkerville’s hurdy gurdy dancers of the 1800s.

Barkerville Brewing’s Hurdy Gurdy Hibiscus Pale Ale features a hand-stitch pattern on the label that honours the signature stitches made on the skirts of the hurdy gurdy dancers of 1800s Barkerville.

Year two’s brew day produced a Gold Digger Dry Hopped Lager, a mischievous play on words that featured female miners on the label.

The second edition of Barkerville Brewing’s collaboration brew day created the Gold Digger Dry Hopped Lager and features the female miners of the era.

The third edition of the event combines the purpose behind the brew’s recipe with a deeper dig into local history, celebrating the badassery of a woman named Florence Wilson.

Honouring Aunt Florence

Chasing the Cariboo gold rush to Barkerville in 1864, Florence Wilson quickly got herself a mining license and opened a saloon. Driven by a strong entrepreneurial spirit, she went on to establish a theatre, book club (which eventually turned into BC’s first library), and a second saloon named The Phoenix (rising from the literal ashes of the first after it burned down). Florence was a force to be reckoned with and a true female trailblazer in the region. 

This year’s Gruit beer pays tribute to Florence Wilson and helps alleviate the symptoms of PMS, all in the same sip!

The Gruit beer, named Aunt Florence in her honour, will be available in 650mL bottles at local markets in Prince George, Quesnel, and Williams Lake in time for IWD 2020. Part of the proceeds from sales of the beer will be donated to Ovarian Cancer Research.

Previous collaboration brew days at Barkerville Brewing have donated part of the proceeds to the Pink Boots Society®. The team also raises money every year during Movember in support of men’s health — fitting, given the brewery’s logo that features an old-school moustache above a golden grin.

Cheers to great moustaches and delicious craft beer!

Cheers to the women behind this BC craft brewery, the trailblazers, and the adventurous beer explorers celebrating the achievements of women on IWD (and every other day too)!

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