Cloudwater collaborations are usually near the top of a UK beer hunter’s list. Since 2017, they have featured in the top quarter of RateBeer’s top 100 breweries, with a personal best of 2nd place, and have a profound commitment to their craft beer community, and the UK scene in general, as demonstrated by their very successful ‘Friends & Family & Beer Festival’. However, ‘A New Chapter’, their recent collaboration with Notch Brewing from Salem, Massachusetts, is a bit different. Not because of the cooperative effort with a popular East Coast brewery, they’ve done that before, and not because it’s an IPL (smacking of apricot and pine with a deep, long, resinous finish) they’ve also done that before. It’s a bit different because it’s in aid of the Pink Boots Society and their ambition to open their first UK chapter (hence the name).
Who are the Pink Boots Society?
The Pink Boots Society are a non-profit organisation, made up of female “movers and shakers” in the beer industry, including brewers, journalists, and bar owners, that started in the USA to “inspire and encourage” women industry professionals to “advance their careers through education.” To this end, they have spread to almost every corner of the globe in their pursuit of levelling the playing field for women in a male dominated sector. As Kym Buttschardt, co owner of Utah based Roosters Brewing Co., pointed out to Slug Magazine in April, the stereotype of the craft brewing industry is very “dudes with beards’–heavy.” This doesn’t mean to say that men with beards are the problem, rather that this image can be intimidating or off putting for aspiring female beer professionals.
Seminars and scholarships are also offered to Pink Boots Society members. Seminars are held in conjunction to society meetings or major beer events, such as The Great American Beer Festival, where the society has a commitment to teaching “women beer professionals the judging skills necessary to become beer judges at GABF and other competitions.”
The currently advertised scholarships include the ‘Yakima Chief Hops Hop and Brew School’ and the ‘2019 American Society of Brewing Chemists Meeting’. With a combined total of almost three thousand dollars, these scholarship offers shows the Pink Boots Society’s commitment to their mission statement.
As a non-profit, the Pink Boots Society relies mostly on donations from “industry partners, members and community supporters” but have also recently begun taking part in International Women’s Day with their ‘Pink Boots Collaboration Brew Day’. On this day, members of the society slide on their pink boots, team up with supporting breweries and individuals, and get stuck in, brewing a multitude of styles across the world (depending if the local chapters get involved or not). These are then sold with a slew of the profits going straight back into the society itself, with the intention of providing more education for more female industry professionals.
The UK Chapter
With the arrival of the new chapter, the UK will be joining a network of female beer professionals from all over the USA and other areas of the world including Costa Rica, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Spain, China, Australia, New Zealand, and Sweden. Information on the specifics of the new chapter remain scarce, with the Pink Boots Society changing their approach to international chapters. PBS Board Member, Nichole Sykes, said: “Right now we’re not creating any new international chapters because we need to get some processes in place because it's a lot different than making one in the US. We should have a better idea of how to proceed in a few weeks and it's at the top of my priority list.”
In the meantime, Cloudwater’s own Doreen Barber has been leading the charge with help from other PBS members, including Notch Brewing’s Brienne Allan. Barber said: “It was great to have Brienne from Notch visit us at Cloudwater for the collaboration brew and to talk to many women who had come from all over for it. Brienne provided incredible insight on how her chapter operates and how it supports its 200 members.”
Barber has also been in touch with others in the UK beer industry including women involved in “other initiatives promoting women involved in beer”; and women in the UK scene who have expressed interest in being involved in the new UK chapter.
She admits responses have been “pretty mixed” with some expressing “that there needs to be something more than just a single brew day that connects women working in the beer industry.” Barber hopes Pink Boots UK will offer more than that.
As for the location of the UK chapter, Barber is currently “concentrating on London and the North of England (Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield.” The current plan is to create North and South chapters for the UK that will grow and devolve into smaller regional chapters.
So what’s the goal of the new UK chapter? Barber states that it will be in line with PBS’ overall mission. She said: “The aim of Pink Boots UK would focus on training and mentoring, along with providing scholarships and a means of socialising, networking and support with and for other women in the beer industry.”
Regardless of its location, the new chapter will provide a hub for female empowerment in the beer industry through education and, overall, improve the quality of UK craft beer.