Women-fronted Beer With(out) Beards festival again throws support behind the bond of brewing

Beer With(out) Beards includes a tasting festival with 24 woman-friendly brewers represented. Pictured, Plan Bee Farm Brewery co-owner Emily Watson serves a brew at the inaugural fest last year.
Beer With(out) Beards includes a tasting festival with 24 woman-friendly brewers represented. Pictured, Plan Bee Farm Brewery co-owner Emily Watson serves a brew at the inaugural fest last year. Photo Credit: Marcus Santos

There was a downpour during the beer festival that capped off Hop Culture’s inaugural Beer With(out) Beards event lineup last year. It was then the beer magazine’s head of strategic partnerships Grace Weitz, who had coordinated the events, had an “aha” moment.

“I huddled underneath a big tent clutching a glass of The Ale Apothecary’s Sahalie. Outside, the rain beat down. I stood shoulder to shoulder with close to 700 other individuals trying desperately to escape the deluge," she recalls. "I worried that eight months of preparation and planning were about to wash away — literally. To my surprise, no one seemed to be leaving.

"On the contrary — I peeped outside the tent and saw groups of friends clustered under umbrellas or getting cozy with brewers beneath their individual pavilions. Inside the larger tent, I noticed people smiling, talking and drinking, as if the torrent outside was nothing more than a light sprinkle. A strong bond formed between us as we ignored the bad weather and continued to show our support for the achievements of women in craft beer.”

Weitz says this moment showed her that Beer With(out) Beards’ “quest to empower all women in craft beer could be best achieved when everyone, women and men, stood together …  in solidarity.” This unity and drive are what Weitz set out to capture and take even further with this year’s return of Beer With(out) Beards. Kicking off on Aug. 7, it’s a weeks’ worth of classes, networking get-togethers and a festival, combining some of last year’s most popular events with new concepts.

Grace Weitz at the inaugural Beer With(out) Beards festival in August 2018.
Grace Weitz at the inaugural Beer With(out) Beards festival in August 2018. Photo Credit: Lauren Perlstein

These events are open to anyone who works in beer, wants to work in beer or just plain loves beer. It’s a fun way for people to gather and enjoy craft brews while participating in discussions about gender equality in the beer industry.

“Breaking through barriers in our industry will happen when conversations and actions are cultivated between everyone,” Weitz says. “The truth of the matter is that the craft beer industry is predominantly male and any change that we’d like to happen will occur as a collaboration.”

Weitz is excited about the different women who came together to present an eclectic yet cohesive schedule for this week in August. There’s something for everyone, whether you want to learn about malt or swap beers and make new friends.

Beer With(Out) Beards’ lineup

Hop Culture and Blind Tiger Present: Beer, How Did It Get Here? Tap Takeover (6-10 p.m. Aug. 7)

(Blind Tiger, 281 Bleecker St.; RSVP)

The kickoff to the week’s events takes place at one of New York’s original craft beer bars.

“The Blind Tiger was one of the first craft beer bars to open in New York, in 1996,” says the bar’s general manager, Katherine Kyle. “You can run into people here who have been frequenting the Tiger for over 20 years, as well as people who just discovered it.”

Each of The Blind Tiger’s 28 draft lines will be devoted to a brewery distributed and/or represented by a woman. Kyle says it’s a great way to remember another sector of the beer industry, in which women play a vital, growing role.

“Back in the early 2000s I can remember very few women craft beer reps. I can think of Susan Green, Elizabeth Lyons, Sebbie Butler, and Anne Clark. Now I’m happy to report that there is no possible way for me to know all of the women reps in New York!”

While we often focus on brewers when we think about our beer and how it got to us, Kyle points out how important the work of distributors is.

“A lot of people put a whole lot of hard work getting beer from the breweries to the places where you can drink (on premise) or buy (off premise) the beer if you can’t make it to the brewery,” she said in an email interview.

To celebrate women in beer distribution and sales, attendees will be raising a glass and drinking brews from 21st Amendment, Mikkeller, Dogfish Head, Allagash, Ommegang, Fifth Hammer, Interboro, Strong Rope, SingleCut, KCBC, LIC Beer Project, Brooklyn Brewery and more.

The main even, the beer festival, features offering from 24 breweries.
The main even, the beer festival, features offering from 24 breweries. Photo Credit: Lauren Perlstein

Hop Culture and Tröegs Independent Brewing Present: Beer + Cheese, Yes Please (5-6:30 p.m. and 7-8:30 p.m. Aug. 8)

(St. Gambrinus Beer Shoppe, 533 Atlantic Ave., tickets are $30)

Expert tasting guide from Tröegs Independent Brewing Jancy Nightingale and beverage specialist from St. Gambrinus Beer Shoppe Rachel Freier lead two sessions guiding attendees through five beer and cheese pairings. They discuss the nuances of flavor and aroma that play a role in why certain beer styles complement certain kinds of cheese, and why some pairings work and others don’t.

Beer and cheese provide a prime example of beer’s ability to harmonize with different foods, and it’s something that beer pros have to be well-versed in, so this event taps into Beer With(out) Beards’ educational component. At the same time, it promises to be a good time and few things are more delicious than beer and cheese, especially together.

Women’s Bottle Share, A Networking Event (8-11 p.m. Aug. 8)

(Threes Franklin + Kent, 113 Franklin St., tickets are $10)

Bottle shares are popular events in the craft beer community: People gather and bring along bottles of their favorite beers or rare beers they’ve managed to snag, and everyone gets to expand their beer knowledge by tasting different brews. In addition to getting to try different kinds of beer, there’s also a great opportunity to make friends, or even business contacts. This bottle share uses a fun, beer-fueled platform to bring together women who work in beer, women who want to work in beer, and women who simply love to drink beer.

Guinness Open Gate Brewery head brewer Hollie Stephenson will be joining to talk about her career journey and share her thoughts on the industry. To attend, get a ticket and find a bottle you’d love to share to bring along.

Hop Culture, Fort Point, Two Roads and Guinness Present: Breaking BEERiers Dinner 2.0 (5-7 p.m. Aug. 9)

(Ivan Ramen, 25 Clinton St., sold out)

Weitz moderates a panel including Kristen Malski, senior manager of consumer events at Two Roads Brewing Co.; Dina Dobkin, creative director at Fort Point Beer Co.; Hollie Stephenson, head brewer at Guinness Open Gate Brewery; and Angela Steil, Certified Advanced Cicerone and master of education at Murray’s Cheese. The discussion focuses on the industry and each woman’s path, how they broke through gender barriers to get where they are and how women in beer can continue to do so. According to Malski, while this evening will revolve around impactful topics, the atmosphere will be inviting and welcoming.

“Event attendees will feel as though they are at a dinner party with friends rather than at a panel discussion,” Malski says. As for the beer, she adds that Two Roads will be featuring their Two Juicy New England-Style IPA and their Persian Lime Gose from their Tanker Truck Sour line. “I’m most excited about learning from and sitting among other powerful women in the beer community. It’s not often a group of people gather around to discuss these challenges so many of us face in the industry.”

The Well also hosted the inaugural Beer With(out) Beards craft beer festival, on Aug. 11, 2018.
The Well also hosted the inaugural Beer With(out) Beards craft beer festival, on Aug. 11, 2018. Photo Credit: Lauren Perlstein

Hop Culture and Yakima Chief Hops Present: Beers With(out) Beards Craft Beer Festival (noon-4 p.m. Aug. 10)

(The Well, 272 Meserole St., tickets are $20-$55)

The crowning moment of this week is the beer festival, held at The Well and featuring 24 breweries that are either owned by women or have women brewers. With Yakima Chief Hops a sponsor this year, Weitz says, it will help take things up a notch.

“YCH strives to promote diversity in both the beer and hop industry, aligning perfectly with our BW(O)B mission,” Weitz notes.

For the afternoon, attendees get to mingle and meet these women brewers and brewery owners and sample their different brews. The lineup includes Drake’s Brewing, Fifth Hammer Brewing Co., Three Weavers Brewing, Stone Brewing, Harlem Brewing Co., Outer Range Brewing Co., Superstition Meadery and more. In addition, there will be food from female-owned operations Twisted Truffles, Stuf’d and Pizza Cupcake.

Hop Culture and Origin Malt Present: Seed to Sip Malt School (11 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 11)

(LIC Beer Project, 39-28 23rd St., tickets are $15)

On Sunday, Beer With(out) Beards focuses on education with two events that are helpful whether you’ve been working in the industry for years, are just starting out, or just want to learn more about how the drink you love is made. The Seed to Sip Malt School will be run by Sara Hagerty and Whitney Thompson from Origin Malt in Ohio.

“It’s going to be an education on barley and the malting process, along with a sensory session,” Hagerty says. “The sensory session is the most exciting part of it. It will be a walk-through of different malts, from base to specialty malts. We’ll be chewing some malts and tasting hot steep [sort of like a tea with the malt steeped in water], and we’ll be tasting beers that have been made with the malts that illustrate the flavors of the malts used in those recipes.”

There will also be a presentation on the growing and procurement of barley, agriculture and sustainability. Hagerty recommends the session to anyone interested or involved in beer.

“You’ll take away a better understanding of malt’s role in the brewing process and the impact of that final flavor that it contributes to beer. … Even trained brewers working in professional settings will walk away with an experience they generally don’t get to have.”

Hagerty and Thompson will be bringing a special beer they made with two women brewers at Rhinegeist Brewery, who will also be present to talk about the malt. Additionally, they collaborated with LIC Beer Project on a pilsner that will be available for tasting at the workshop, as well as at the festival on Saturday.

Hop Culture and Lallemand Present: Off-Flavor Sensory Workshop (1-3 p.m. Aug. 11)

(Fifth Hammer Brewing Co., 10-28 46th Ave., tickets are $15)

Sometimes, your beer just tastes … off. Beer experts can tell exactly what: Based on what flavor they get from the beer, they can identify what went wrong. A beer might not have been allowed to ferment long enough, so its yeast may not have cleaned up some of the undesirable compounds it creates. The faucet where the beer is being served might be dirty. The hops might have been stale. These factors can create “off-flavors,” ranging from buttered popcorn and creamed corn to green apple and vinegar. East Coast technical sales manager at Lallemand Brewing Molly Browning will walk attendees through beers “spiked” with samples of these off-flavors, teaching how to identify them and what they mean.

“There are multiple process control points at which off-flavors can occur, which is one of the awesome things about tasting these through with beer enthusiasts, brewers and bartenders, as it really shows how global the making and serving of beer is,” Browning says.

The workshop is helpful for beer lovers who want to understand what may have happened when their beer isn’t perfect, and of course for anyone working in brewing or at a bar so they can learn to prevent these problems. There’s a happy ending, too: After all those not-so-delicious samples, you’ll get to try one of Fifth Hammer’s 16 beers, sans off-flavors.

If you go

Beer With(out) Beards craft beer celebration | Aug. 7-11

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