It’s early Saturday morning the first post-SF Beer Week weekend. You’d think I’d be resting and recuperating, which I am, but I also couldn’t wait to report on a great SF Beer Week event I had the good fortune to participate in. I’ve been thinking about writing this post all week, but alas, work got in the way. So, I’m taking a brief moment out of book writing to bring you this.
Gail Williams, one half of the informative www.beerbybart.com, organized the Cheers to Women in Beer event at Beer Revolution in Oakland. Advertised guests included Moylan’s Brewmaster Denise Jones and Grand Master Beer Judge and Zymurgy panelist Beth Zangari. It all came together nicely in our second-half Beer Week schedule, as I wanted to support Gail, show my solidarity with other girl beer geeks, and visit the brand new Beer Revolution.
We ran into Gail earlier that morning while she waited in line for Toronado’s Barleywine Festival. She told me then that she planned on me being a “special surprise guest” at the Cheers to Women in Beer event. I thought she was joking and laughed at the idea. When I realized she was serious, my next thought, and I think I actually said it, was “Oh, couldn’t get anyone else, huh?” I was flattered and liked the idea of taking part, I just wasn’t sure how much of a “surprise guest” I would turn out to be.
Together with our friends J.J. and Scott, we traveled to Downtown Oakland. I took an immediate liking to Beer Revolution. The location, the deck out front, and of course the beer selection. For having only been open for a week, Fraggle and Rebecca seemed to have everything under control.
After a bit of socializing, Gail got the show going. We raised our glasses to women in beer and Denise took the floor. Standing tall on a milk crate, she talked about entering the brewing world at a time when women in the beer industry were few and far between. She is a brewer who has stood the test of time. Not because she happens to be female, but because she is a damn fine brewer. Period.
Beth climbed up on the crate next and talked about beer judging. Again, a woman who entered a facet of the beer universe when few female judges existed. As a Grand Master Beer Judge, she earned her lofty position because her palate and skill are top notch, not because she is female.
As the third speaker and surprise guest, Gail introduced me. I was incredibly humbled by following two highly notable female forerunners in the industry. How, exactly, did I fit into this scene, I wondered. But when I stood atop the crate and started to speak, I realized that the three of us represented the variety of contributions women have made to the beer industry. I may not have the patience of a Brewmaster or the sensitive palate of a Grand Master Beer Judge, but I contributed by encouraging all people, not only hardcore beer geeks, to find their own beer experiences. This realization undoubtedly sprang from being in an establishment called Beer Revolution drinking what Beth called the “drink of the people.”
After me, the average age of the women who shared their own beer herstories dropped by 15 years or more. As they spoke I felt proud to be of the slightly older group. I haven’t always blogged, but my interest in craft beer extends back to the young days of the movement. A time when women certainly weren’t expected to know about beer and in fact it was assumed women didn’t know anything about it.
Today there is a growing number of young women who blog about beer, brew beer at home, and are honing their judging skills. They aspire to be authors, world renown beer travelers, Brewmasters, and Grand Master Beer Judges. While I feel that women have moved beyond needing affirmative action in the beer world, on this day I honored the women that set the stage for me, recognized my personal contribution to the beer community, and took pride in the next generation of women in beer.
My heartfelt thanks to Gail for organizing the event and including me.