‘We can brew it!’ Beer festival focuses on female drinkers

‘We can brew it!’ Beer festival focuses on female drinkers
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

Call them ladies who lager!

A week-long celebration of women in craft beer will belly up to Brooklyn next month. The Beers Without Beards Festival, happening on Aug. 7–12, aims to show that female brewers have a place in the industry — and they always have, said the festival’s organizer.

“What many people might not know is that women were the O.G. brewers,” said Grace Weitz. “With the Egyptians and Sumerians, women were historically the ones brewing in those communities. It’s when brewing moved out of the private sphere, out of the home, that men took over.”

There have been no comprehensive studies of women in craft beer, but most estimate show that women are about 30 percent of the audience and creators of craft beer, said the Crown Heights organizer, which she attributes to historic marketing trends.

“I like to say that men have 150-year head start in terms of marketing,” she said. “Beer, like Budweiser and Miller, has been solely marketed to men — often with kind of demoralizing ads, featuring women in not many clothes. That’s been a barrier to women.”

But the best way to break down those barriers is with a friendly session over a beer, said Weitz — hence the festival.

“The whole point is for men and women to come together in the same space,” she said. “We want to share a beer with someone and talk about how to highlight the role of women in the industry.”

Events that week include dinners and panel discussions in Manhattan and Queens, along with a trivia session with the Beerded Ladies in Clinton Hill on Aug. 8, a Beer and Yoga event in Sunset Park on Aug. 12, and a guided beer tasting session in Boerum Hill the same day, led by beer expert Anne Becerra.

The highlight of the week will be a women-focused beer tasting festival on Aug. 11 in Bushwick. The event will feature 23 breweries, 14 of them owned or co-owned by women, and the others with women in prominent roles. The day will be a party, said Weitz, with a female dee-jay, food from the woman-owned Stuf’d sandwich truck, and a chance to pose with cut-outs of the Beers Without Beards mascot, an as-yet unnamed redheaded woman toting two kegs at once.

The mascot was inspired by a trend, said Weitz — while male brewers are notable for their beards, female beer makers stand out for their muscles.

“To me, what’s stood out about every female brewer that I’ve seen has been their strength,” she said. “It’s a physically demanding job — you’re carrying 50-pound bags of grain, or you’re picking up kegs.”

Beers Without Beers Tasting Festival at the Well [272 Meserole St. between Waterbury Street and Bushwick Avenue in Bushwick, (347) 338–3612, www.hopculture.com]. $50 ($75 VIP). Noon–4 pm.

Beer Tasting Workshop with Anne Becerra at St. Gambrinus [533 Atlantic Ave. between Third and Fourth avenues in Boerum Hill, (347) 763–2261, www.stgambrinusbeer.com]. Aug. 12 at 1 pm. $20.

Reach arts editor Bill Roundy at broun[email protected]glocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507.
Double bubbles: The as-yet unnamed mascot of the Beers Without Beards festival demonstrates the strength of female brewers.
Sam Taylor