Tomorrow on International Women's Day, 15 breweries will collaborate on 15 Shades of Grisette at Solace Brewing Company. The collaboration, organized through the Pink Boots Society, will involve brewers, cellar staff, and employees from 3 Stars, Beltway, Bike TrAle, Black Hoof, DC Brau, Dirt Farm, Lake Anne Brew House, Lickinghole Creek, Lost Rhino, New District, Ocelot, Old Ox, Red Dragon, Seven Arrows, and Solace. The beer will be unveiled at a release party at Old Ox on April 13 and released in taprooms, taverns, and pubs on April 14.
Dr. Allison Lange, leader of the DC Chapter of the Pink Boots Society and Head Brewer at Old Ox Brewery, wrote via email, "The Pink Boots Society Collaboration Brew Day began with a desire to take part in International Women's Day in order to bring attention to the contributions of women in the beer industry. Individual chapters get together to brew a beer and proceeds are donated back to Pink Boots.”
The DC Chapter’s Brew Day is not an isolated event. As of Tuesday, Lange notes, “collaboration brews are scheduled to occur in 46 states and in 10 countries with over 240 registered teams.” Last year the collaboration brew day raised $27,000, and this year the Pink Boots Society aims to more than double that amount to $65,000. These funds “will go to fund PBS and all of the scholarships that it offers,” explained Lange.
Bridgette Turner, Lead Brewer at Solace, informed DCBeer via email that, "We chose to go with the grisette because, like most beers back in the day, it was mainly brewed and served by women. It gets it name because the women would wear grey frocks when they served the beer to the miners returning from work in Belgium. It's similar to a saison, but comes with a more sessionable ABV and the Pink Boots collaboration will come in around 4%." Turner noted that “with a blend of French saison and Belgian yeast, donated and created by Jasper Yeast specifically for our Pink Boots beer, we chose to complement the yeast-derived esters and the PBS blend hops with Azacca hops. Together these ingredients will created a tropical, orchard fruit flavor and aroma with a touch of earthiness and pine."
Lange explained that the Pink Boots Society “partnered with YCH to create an exclusive blend of hops that includes Palisade®, Simcoe®, Mosaic®, Citra® and Loral®, which will be used in every brew across the globe.”
Tracy Converse, Assistant Brewer at Lake Anne Brew House, wrote and brewed the recipe on Lake Ann’s 5-gallon pilot system and then scaled it up to brew on Solace's 20-barrel system. Melissa Romano Owner of Lake Anne Brew House designed the beer’s logo.
Dr. Lange was kind enough to answer more questions about a recent Pink Boots Society reorganization. A lightly-edited transcript of our email interview follows below.
Tell us about the impetus for reorganizing the DC/MD/VA/DE chapter of Pink Boots into more city-based centers around DC, Roanoke, Frederick, and Richmond and the implications of that change.
Pink Boots Society Chapters have historically sprung up organically; a nucleus of interested women would start getting together to talk about beer and eventually make it all official by talking to national and starting a chapter. Once the DMV chapter began meeting, we welcomed any new women for whom we were the closest chapter. Unfortunately, that meant that many miles and many hours separated our members making it difficult to have meetings that included everyone. Now that we have so many women involved, we thought it made sense to break this large area into smaller, more regional chapters centered around the major cities so that everyone could meet face-to-face more often to network, learn about beer, explore each other's breweries and bars and bottle shops, and share a few pints!
How has Pink Boots activity grown in the area in recent years?
The DMV chapter began in 2015 with a small group of women from DC and Northern Virginia breweries and bars. We are extremely fortunate to have such a tight-knit, collaborative clutch of breweries in the DC area. We already had contacts at many of the local beer institutions so word of our group spread fast. Additionally, as craft beer has grown in the region, so too has the beer community. Women who were once stranded in beer deserts are now surrounded by beery peers. Pink Boots is a great way for these women to make connections, make new friends, and learn to make (and distribute and market and sell) even better beer.
How does leadership in the Pink Boots Society work? Is anyone in particular taking the reins in an official capacity? Is there an official capacity?
The Pink Boots Society has a national board of directors including Founder Teri Fahrendorf, President Laura Ulrich, Executive Director Emily Engdahl, Secretary Candace Moon, Treasurer Mary Brettman, and several board members. There is also a volunteer scholarship committee.
Each chapter is free to devise their own system of leadership. The leader of the DC chapter is Allison Lange, head brewer at Old Ox Brewery in Ashburn, VA. We are currently in the process of formalizing other roles such as co-leader, treasurer, secretary, events chair, marketing chair, membership liaison, etc. If any women out there are interested, please let us know!
What kinds of activities would you like to bring to the DC chapter of Pink Boots or otherwise like to see here?
One of the major principles of the Pink Boots Society is enhancing and advancing the careers of women in the beer industry through education. With this goal in mind, we plan to dedicate a portion of most meetings on things like learning about off-flavors in beer and how to avoid them in the brewing process and at the tap. Every meeting also has a casual portion to have a few beers, meet new people, and check out the host brewery or bar. We've also been dreaming about organizing a festival or a few Pink Boots tap takeovers where every beer is women-owned or women-brewed!
How can people get more involved with the Pink Boots Society?
Hitting up the national Pink Boots Society webpage is a great place to start. You can learn about PBS' mission, check out the forums, and buy swag. Perhaps most importantly, the website outlines all of the available scholarships, which range from brewing courses to trips to Germany to seminars on how to start a brewery. Local women can also check out our chapter's Facebook page.
Be sure to look out for 15 Shades of Grisette in mid-April, and check out the Pink Boots Society to learn more about how you can support women in beer!