March 7th, 2014
05:00 PM ET
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Two women's beer organizations, the Pink Boots Society from the United States and Project Venus from the United Kingdom, have teamed up to create a global, all-female brew day on March 8 in order to raise awareness of women in the industry.

International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day will allow women from more than 60 breweries around the world to create their own version of the collaborative, girl-powered recipe called Unite Pale Ale.

“The beauty of the recipe is that it still leaves room for creativity and uniqueness to the individual brewsters,” says Denise Ratfield, of the Pink Boots Society and San Diego-based Stone Brewing Co. (Industry jargon uses brewster as the feminine form of brewer.)

Sophie de Ronde, head brewer of Brentwood Brewing Company in Chelmsford, England, came up with the idea that has since spread stateside with the help of Ratfield and the Pink Boots Society.

“Our goal is to continue to empower women, educate them so that the future of craft beer will see a host of talented, capable women that will bring innovation to the industry,” Ratfield says. "We are passionate and feel the need to take charge of our own professional destiny."

While the craft beer industry is still predominantly composed of men, there has been a “meteoric rise” of women in all aspects of the industry, according to the Society. The group includes approximately 800 women who brew, package, design, serve and/or write about beer.

Aly Hartwig, who is an assistant brewer at Colorado's Pikes Peak Brewing Co., is one such brewster breaking the glass ceiling.

While she says she did not encounter many obstacles getting into the industry, she does have to be prepared to hold her own; she points out that brewing is a physically-demanding job.

"Despite how the industry may look from the outside, brewing isn't glamorous. It's awful hours, hard physical work and a lot of cleaning,” she says. “If you are not truly passionate about crafting an amazing pint, it'll be challenging to make brewing a lasting career.”

Hartwig says that it ultimately relies on passion, whether a brewer or brewster.

“Sitting down after a hard day of work and enjoying a pint the you made makes it hard to imagine doing anything else," she says.

Another pioneer of sorts is Carol Stoudt of Stoudts Brewing in Adamstown, Pennsylvania. Stoudts, who is often touted as the “Queen of Hops," was responsible for every aspect of the business, from brewing to selling, when it began in 1987.

Stoudt advises women who want to get into the industry to “do your homework” and to “learn the science of beer."

She says any skeptic can be silenced by knowledge of the craft.

“Keep your head up, have confidence and have faith in yourself and your beer,” Stoudt says.

Here are five more women who are leaders and pioneers in craft beer.

Deborah Carey
Carey is the founder and operator of New Glarus Brewing Company in New Glarus, Wisconsin. While she does not brew the beer, she does just about everything else for the brewery, including making the initial business plan and raising the capital for it. Last year, she was invited to the White House by President Obama to discuss small business issues.

Julia Herz
Herz is the Craft Beer Program Director of the Brewers Association, which promotes American craft brewers and its community of enthusiasts.  Among her many credits, she is a publisher of CraftBeer.com, an avid home brewer and a certified beer judge.

Mariah Calagione
Beer enthusiasts know the face of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery as Sam Calagione, but "the right-side of the brain" of one of the best craft beer operations is Sam’s wife, Mariah.  She is in charge of all of the Dogfish marketing, merchandise, tour and community teams. (She also supported her husband when he decided to follow his craft brewing passion, and for that, we are eternally grateful.)

Kim Jordan
Jordan is the President and CEO of New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colorado. New Belgium is currently the third largest craft brewery in the United States, according to the Brewers Association. Jordan co-founded New Belgium with her then-husband Jeff Lebesch in 1991, and has since helped grown the brand into what it is today. She has also made environmental stewardship one of brewery's top priorities.

Teri Fahrendorf
Fahrendorf founded the Pink Boots Society to empower, inspire and encourage women in the craft beer industry. She brewed in a professional setting from 1988 to 1997, and was the first female brewmaster at craft breweries in California and Oregon. In 2011, she traveled across the country for five months to visit and brew with some of the nation's best; she participated in 38 brews during the course of the trip.

Want to find out where you can check out Unite Pale Ale on March 8? Here is a map of participants.

Greg Bowman is an Editor Producer with CNN Creative Services in Atlanta and is also a craft beer enthusiast. Follow his beer escapades on Twitter @gboCNN.

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soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Mark L

    Stoudts is good beer. I had no idea it was founded by a woman. Nor do I really care. As long as the beer is good I wouldnt care if a monkey brewed it

    March 10, 2014 at 12:45 pm | Reply
  2. Jessica McKean

    We have less than 20 tickets left for our International Women's Collaboration Brew Day Brunch at Mike Hess Brewing in North Park. You will get to meet the brewers guest brewing from Stone Saturday March 8th as we participate in this awesome event! You will also be able to indulge in an all you can eat and drink brunch from 10 to noon. Twitter and Facebook hessbrewing for more information. Cheers!

    March 7, 2014 at 10:37 pm | Reply
  3. ae em

    In some countries like USA it might even be good to have a freeman day. Being a good man nowadays is pretty hard with so many parties presenting blame of the male. Ridiculed and exploited in so many ways. Unemployment creates a caste of men who are not allowed even the bare minimum of income through honest work. The rat race is brutal, and men who refuse to play along are criticized. Elsewhere values matter more than bank statement.

    March 7, 2014 at 9:52 pm | Reply
    • Little Timmie

      Aww poor baby. Did your mommie finally kick you out of the basement? Make you live on your own? Tsk, tsk.

      March 10, 2014 at 6:48 am | Reply
  4. Thinking things through

    As a woman, I'd love to celebrate, but ale or beer in cold weather just does not do a thing for me. Carry on, though.

    March 7, 2014 at 7:11 pm | Reply

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