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Pink Boots Collaboration Brew Day

Last month, on March 8th, was International Women’s Day. If you are not familiar with this worldwide holiday, here’s your chance to be enlightened. According to the International Women’s Day website, the day is recognized globally “celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements…[and] marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.”

The March 8th holiday has its roots right here in the US as far back as March 8, 1857 when female textile workers in New York City protested unfair working conditions and unequal rights. Another notable occurrence happened on March 8, 1908, when 15,000 women workers in NYC marched through the streets protesting child labor, deplorable working conditions, demanding better pay, shorter hours, additionally laying out their demands for the right to vote. Only a short two years later, in 1910 during the second International Conference of Working Women, held in Copenhagen, Denmark, the first official International Women’s Day was created, and was then honored for the first time around-the-world during the following year, in 1911.   

We have a rich history of fighting for women’s rights in the United States, of which happened to start in our own backyard much earlier, with America’s first Women’s Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls, NY on July 19 & 20, 1848. The convention was truly the beginning of the women’s rights movement and during that meeting, the delegates, that included Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, passed a resolution supporting women’s suffrage. It then took over seven decades(!) to secure a woman’s right to vote, with the ratifying of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution on August 18th, 1920.

Pink Boots Society was founded in 2007 by female brewer Teri Fahrendorf after she embarked upon a coast-to-coast trip across the US visiting 70 different breweries and 3 distilleries. Along the way, she began to think of how to link women brewers and beer industry professionals together where they could share ideas, ask questions, provide and receive mentoring and education, socialize, network, etc., and thus Pink Boots was born. The mission is simple: “Pink Boots Society aims to assist, inspire and encourage women and non-binary individuals in the fermented/alcoholic beverage industry to advance their careers through education.” Today, the Society has expanded beyond the borders of the US with 88 chapters located globally (even as far as Australia and Peru!) with thousands of members, and continuing to grow. There are 4 different chapters located here in New York State: Buffalo, Central New York, Upstate New York, and New York City. Only Texas and California have more chapters than NY. 

Every year, the Society celebrates International Women’s Day by encouraging their chapters to partner with a local brewery to plan an official Pink Boots Collaboration Brew Day® on (or around) March 8th. Yakima Chief Hops, a “100% grower-owned network of family hop farms,” based in the Pacific Northwest, has partnered with Pink Boots for the last 7 years to produce a unique blend of hops to be used in each chapter’s/brewery’s beer brewed on this special day. The beer created can be ANY style of beer, it just has to contain the current year hops blend, therefore enabling creativity to abound! 2024’s blend includes Ahtanum®, El Dorado®, HBC 638 and Idaho 7® – touting a berry, citrus, stone fruit and tropical aroma profile.

Our local Central New York Pink Boots chapter partners with Prison City Brewing, in Auburn, NY every year for one of these special International Women’s Day/Pink Boots Collaboration Brew Day® celebrations. March 8th happened to fall on a Friday this year, and yours truly, FINALLY had the opportunity to attend this all-day event! 

The day started early with a 9am arrival at the Prison City North Street location. The brewery itself was abuzz with the sound of machinery and brewers and staff doing their regular job of brewing beer while participants meandered inside and helped themselves to a cup of coffee or tea to keep caffeinated for the bustling day ahead. There was a palpable excitement that infiltrated the gathering space as folks greeted one another with happy hugs, warm smiles, while settling themselves at seats and tables. Dawn Schulz, Co-Founder and CEO of Prison City Brewing, our lovely host for the day, was also flitting around the room, both welcoming guests and making final tweaks to ensure a successful event. 

After brief introductions and a run-down of the day’s activities, our sea of approximately 60 pink-clad ladies (because – obviously – PINK was the encouraged color of the day! …with a few wearers of actual pink boots too!) started with a tasting of Prison City’s Crispy Boys (…ironic, eh?), at 4.3% ABV, a very light and unobtrusive American Lager. This was a perfect introduction beer to gently ready our stomachs being so early in the morning. We soon moved on to our breakfast-of-champions: a flight of 4 beer and donut pairings – of which, you just simply cannot go wrong. Each quarter of a donut – blueberry, sprinkled glaze, and more, deliciously paired with an IPA, stout, etc.; awakening our tastebuds with each bite and sip.

Throughout the day we had the opportunity to listen to women in the brewing industry tell a little bit about themselves and their businesses as we sampled their wares. During the morning, Elaine Ferrier, presented her business, Comb Grown Mead – a craft meadery located at 26 Osborne St., in Auburn, NY. Originally from Canada, with a background in Environmental Studies, she creates unique and delicious, small-batch versions of easy-drinking, carbonated meads and she offers flights and pints in her newly-opened tasting room. She also cans her mead for patrons to take home. We sampled 3 different versions: 

Rhubarb Rosé (8% ABV), a Gamay Noir rosé mead with elderflower and lemon extract – light, a little bit like a Rosé wine, pink in coloration, and slightly tart – simply a delight! 

Tree-One-Five Cyser (6% ABV), an apple mead made with late-harvest honey from Hive 315 combined with a blend of early-harvest apples from Owen’s Orchards – very light, bubbly, dry and bursting with fresh apple notes against a backdrop of honey – this was my favorite, and if you’re a fan of hard ciders, you’ll love this too. 

Honey Pops (5.5% ABV), a session mead, consisting of very prevalent honey flavors, while still maintaining an ease of drinkability. 

…and then it was back to more beer samples from our host, Prison City with their Alora™ Borealis (4.5% ABV), a flavorful session hazy IPA brewed in collaboration with Hopsteiner, a family-owned hop supplier, that highlights a brand-spanking-new cultivated hop, Alora™. The beer shines with notes of citrus and perhaps some peach notes. During the tasting we also learned more about the Alora™ hop itself – from its aroma evaluation to its chemical make-up. This included handling the hops in dried cone form and in pressed pellets to feel, see, and smell all its characteristics – thus being able to truly appreciate the hop itself in all her glory.

In addition to women in the brewing industry, we also had women from two groups that presented – the first being Brave Women FLX and the second being What Moves You? (?MUVSU?). 

The Brave Women FLX organization is part of the Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council. Their mission is to “encourage visitors and residents to celebrate the forward-thinking female pioneers of the Finger Lakes by exploring the historic landmarks and destinations that tell their stories, while supporting the region’s modern-day businesswomen and entrepreneurs and unleashing your inner brave woman.” They had a fun little quiz that they set up for all of us participants to take to see which “Brave Woman” each of us was – I turned up as Emily Howland, a woman from small-town central NY, who was the first female bank director in the world! This fun organization boasts a website: www.bravewomenflx.com, Facebook and Instagram pages – definitely worth the look and as a bonus, you too can take the same quiz online!

What Moves You? or ?MUVSU?, is a small philanthropic social impact art organization founded by Marion Rodriguez, focused on creating one-of-a-kind handmade tote bags to provide to incarcerated women when they are released from prison. When a member of the community purchases a tote, the organization provides a bag to a released woman for free. Every bag also comes with notes of encouragement and support. Marion shared her own story with us, and the roots of her business. The core of her mission is significant, as when a woman is incarcerated, she is stripped of her possessions. When she is released, the empty bag represents a new start with goals, creating a new life for herself, and focusing on what’s ahead. She also partners with other organizations that provide housing and services to women who have been homeless and incarcerated, such as Providence House, a non-profit based in Brooklyn, NY.  Dawn, from Prison City, generously purchased and gifted a tote to every woman at the Pink Boots Brew Day. How amazing is that!? These bags can be purchased locally at The Emerson & Soul Society Syracuse located at 230 W. Genesee St. in Syracuse or connect with Marion directly via her Instagram @whatmovesyou_ or on Facebook. 

Much more activity ensued throughout the rest of the morning and pouring into the afternoon. We had a wine tasting with Treleaven, out of King Ferry, NY and had another pairing round of both beers and wines combined with kettle corn, tomato & basil flatbread pizza, and candy including Kinder Bueno, Jelly Belly jelly beans and Tootsie Rolls. Afterwards, we broke for lunch, which included – you guessed it – more beer! At each station, your food item of mac & cheese, chili, chicken Caeser salad and dessert was paired with a specific type of beer. 

After lunch concluded, it was back to more beer industry education and speeches, beer sampling and discussion with Alanna Meakin, Western Territory Manager from Grow Brewing Company, based out of Geneva, NY, and a rather boisterous and competitive International Women’s Day and history themed trivia match! We also had a delicious, informative, and expertly-crafted beer and cheese pairing with Sarah Simiele, current reigning Cheesemonger Invitational Champion, and owner of Syracuse’s own fromagerie, The Curd Nerd. We sampled:

LaFolie from New Belgium Brewing paired with Meredith Dairy Marinated Feta (Of which I promptly made a trip out to The Curd Nerd the very next day, because the cheese was THAT good!) 

Crispy Girls from Talking Cursive Brewing Company paired with Jasper Hill Winnimere

Super Hero Sidekicks from KCBC paired with Kerry Gold Dubliner

Hitman Stout from Prison City paired with Point Reyes Original Blue

At the end of the day, we took a big group photo, and all attendees had the opportunity to toss our own handful of the 2024 Pink Boots hops blend into the large kettle brewing our official Pink Boots beer! The finished beer will be launched at a later date, so be sure to keep your eyes glued to Prison City’s social media for further details. Symbolically, the tossing of the hops was a fantastic way to cap off a day spent together, rubbing-elbows and finding connection, at a truly wonderful event that was created to educate and celebrate women in the beer and brewing industry on International Women’s Day! While this was my first attendance at this yearly event, it certainly won’t be my last. Pink Boots Collaboration Brew Day® provided me, personally, with a renewal of-sorts in my love of the craft beer community – especially when it can get a bit burdensome and frustrating to be a woman who’s involved in such a heavily male-dominated industry. The truth is, craft beer is for EVERYONE, and its good to know that we as women, have other women to rely on and connect with, and to know that we’re all in this together. Cheers to a very fun, successful, and invigorating event! 

Kristin Merritt
Just your average craft-brew loving gal slinging your monthly pour of beer education and the low-down on all things beer related in the immediate CNY area and beyond. Along the way I hope to give a few recommendations for your grocery list, events to attend, and local hotspots to hit-up for shenanigans with friends, ideas for date night, or at the very least enlighten you with a bit of random knowledge to use towards trivia night or simply give you and your teammates a suggestion on what to drink at the bar! Cheers!