You may have seen events in this space, hosted by organizations for women in the beer brewing business, or who simply enjoy beer. One of the business-oriented groups, the Pink Boots Society, has launched a multi-brewer collaboration release this weekend.
Hold My Crown is a collaboration among ten Chicago area breweries. It’s also practically a new style of beer, using a yeast that’s just now commercially available, but which has been curated by a woman brewer for several years.
The base beer was brewed March 3 at Skeleton Key Brewery, which is co-founded by Emily Slayton. She was joined by 20 women from breweries, suppliers and bottle shops around Chicago made 15 bbls (24-26 kegs) of the base beer. The brewers then committed to take some of the beer and add adjuncts of their own. The base beer, at 6.7% abs, is already on tap at Skeleton Key, while the base and variants that are ready will be featured Friday, April 5 at Iron & Glass, 632 S. Weber Rd., Romeoville, IL. The variants will also be available at each of the participating breweries starting this weekend.
Hold My Crown is described as a hoppy Lithuanian farmhouse-style ale. It uses a special Lithuanian Jovaru Yeast from brewer Aldona Udriene, known as “the queen of Lithuanian farmhouse beer.” Udrine has relied on the same techniques to brew beer used by her family for centuries, all with one of the oldest Lithuanian farmhouse ale yeast strains. The strain is now being made available through a partnership with Omega Yeast Labs of Chicago and St. Louis.
Slayton told me the base beer met her expectations: "It tastes great. I'd say it's most reminiscent of a Belgian or farmhouse style IPA. It has a lot of that farmhouse character to it from the yeast. But we hopped it to 45 IBU's, so it's got a nice bit of backbone to it, too. Very dry, and really sort of light and refreshing."
In deference, though, to the idea of “terrior,” the beer will actually be referred to as a “rustic ale.” This, the news release notes, follows a treatise by Marika Josephson of central Illinois’ Scratch Farm & Microbrewery. Writing in Good Beer Hunting, Marika suggested that the name “farmhouse” be applied to beers actually made in a farmhouse setting. Like the way certain summertime ales not produced in Cologne, Germany should be properly called “Kölsch-style.”
The base beer is 6.7% ABV, with moderate bitterness of 45 IBU’s. The variants and their brewers are:
- BuckleDown Brewing (Lyons): blood orange
- Church Street Brewing Co. (Itasca): lemongrass (On tap as of Thursday)
- Dry City Brew Works (Wheaton): hibiscus
- Elmhurst Brewing Co. (Elmhurst): strawberry
- Metal Monkey Brewing (Romeoville): lemon + rosemary
- More Brewing Co. (Villa Park): honey-tangerine + ginger
- Scallywag Brewing (Westmont): pomegranate
- Skeleton Key Brewery (Woodridge): base beer, no adjunct
- Werk Force Brewing Co. (Plainfield): kombucha
- Wolfden Brewing (Bloomingdale): passionfruit
The Pink Boots Society is a professional organization that assists, inspires and encourages women beer industry professionals to advance their careers through education .
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of “Hold My Crown” will benefit PBS.
This group brew is one of the activities that has followed the belated launch of Pink Boots Society's Chicago chapter. Clayton explained, "It used to only be open to brewers. Now, they've expanded the definition of what constitutes a member of Pink Boots, by saying it's any woman who makes money from beer. So that can be, a retailer, a beer tender; anybody who touches beer and makes money from it can now be part of the Pink Boots Society. Obviously memberships swelled considerably after that. Now [the Chicago chapter is] led by a leadership committee that consists of Cathleen Evans, who works for Oak Printing (which produces beer labels), Janna Mestan, General Manager at Haymarket, and then Alison Christen, brewmaster at Goose Island."
Slayton started to organize the collaboration when the national PBS proposed that its chapters stage an observance of International Women's Collaboration Brew Day on March 8, coinciding with International Women's Day.
"I sent the chapter a message saying I thought I could get this going with the ladies in the beer industry that I know in the suburbs. And there was such a resounding support for it. Partly out of honoring International Women's Day and partly out of just the camaraderie of getting the hang out together for a day, and do something cool and make something that we can then share with other people. Many of these women own their own businesses, so they know what it takes to coordinate an event like this. So everybody was really just on the ball; everybody just totally pitched in and has been very engaged throughout the entire process."
Part of the Pink Boots Society's stated purpose is educational. "At the local level, the educational opportunities are a lot more in the moment," Slayton said. "At the next meeting that we plan on having in the suburbs, we're going to have a grain supplier talk to us about the process of malting, and understanding how to taste malt, and the different flavors that come out of it. So that would be more with the local chapter. And then at the international level you could apply for scholarship that they do one or two a month and they have a selection committee that actually chooses somebody and dispenses the scholarship." Slayton herself got a scholarship to spend four days at Barley Field School at the Institute of Barley and Malt Sciences at North Dakota State University.