From Thesis to Festival: Beers With(out) Beards Returns Bigger and Better Than Ever

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HopCulture_BWOB_2018_Credit_Lauren_Perlstein-5-Boroughs

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. As Mother Nature exerted her full force during Hop Culture’s inaugural women in craft beer festival, Beers With(out) Beards, last August in NYC, 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.

The moment re-invigorated me and reminded me that BW(O)B’s quest to empower all women in craft beer could best be achieved when everyone – women and men – stood together (underneath a tent, drinking beer, while the rain relentlessly poured down around us) in solidarity.

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The Beers With(out) Beards Festival caps off several days of networking and events focus on women in beer. (Lauren Perlstein)

(Related: L.A.’s Latina Brewers Seeing ‘Cultural Shift’)

With that memory in mind, several months ago I began planning the second iteration of Beers With(out) Beards. I knew I wanted to take the most successful elements from last year and make them bigger and better. As I learned underneath that tent, I realized that I couldn’t do it alone. I needed other women on the cusp of creating change in the industry to help me plan this year’s programming. I eagerly reached out to partners in the industry, seeking to bring together the resources and expertise of even more veterans and professionals.

One only has to look at this year’s lineup of events to see the breadth and depth of our current collaborations. For a new twist, we teamed up with Katherine Kyle, the GM of New York’s OG craft beer bar, The Blind Tiger, for a tap takeover highlighting the women pounding the pavement and making sure your favorite beer makes it to your local watering hole. For a fantastic beer and cheese pairing workshop, we partnered with Troëgs Independent Brewing’s Marketing Event Director, Jancy Nightingale, and local cheesemonger, Rachel Freier, to tackle the complexities of pairing beer with cheese.

In 2019, we’re also bringing back two of our most successful events. First is the networking bottle share, which we’re throwing in collaboration with Guinness Open Gate Brewery. Head Brewer and Imbibe 2019 Beer Person of the Year, Hollie Stephenson, will join us to mingle and speak about her experience in the industry. We also have a Breaking BEERiers Beer Dinner 2.0  at Ivan Ramen, featuring beer from three fantastic breweries spanning both coasts: Fort Point Beer Co., Two Roads Brewing Co, and Guinness Open Gate Brewery. Over a delicious meal of incredible Japanese appetizers, ramen, and — of course — beer, we’ll hear about the experiences of female industry veterans including Fort Point’s Creative Director Dina Dobkin, Two Roads’ Senior Manager of Consumer Events Kristen Malski, Guinness Head Brewer Hollie Stephenson, and Certified Cicerone Angela Steil.

As the centerpiece for the week, over 20 female-owned breweries and female brewers will join us when we return to The Well on Saturday, August 10 to highlight some of the best women-brewed beer across the country. This year, we’re excited to announce that Yakima Chief Hops (YCH) will be our 2019 Beers With(out) Beards Festival Title Sponsor. YCH strives to promote diversity in both the beer and hop industry, aligning perfectly with our BW(O)B mission.

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Over 20 female-owned breweries and female brewers will join the festival on Saturday, August 10. (Lauren Perlstein)

(More: It’s a Matter of Pride for Washington, D.C. Area LGBTQ and Allied Breweries)

Additionally, we’re thrilled that many other partners will be supporting the fest including Brewery PAK, InTouch Labels, the Brewers Association (publishers of CraftBeer.com), Green Mountain Energy, Marie Brizard, Jameson Caskmates, YETI, and Twisted Truffles. It’s inspiring to see so many big names gathering for one weekend showcasing women in beer.

We’ll round out the week on Sunday with a slate of comprehensive workshops. We teamed up with Ohio Maltster, Origin Malt, for a Seed to Sip Malt School showcasing one of beer’s most important (but often underappreciated) ingredients. The event will be held at the beautiful LIC Beer Project taproom, where Sara Hagerty and Whitney Thompson from Origin Malt and Natalie Blair and Libby Roether from Rhinegeist Brewery will show us how brewers incorporate malt into making the liquid in your glass. Last but not least, we enlisted the help of Lallemand Brewing to showcase an Off-Flavor Sensory Workshop at Fifth Hammer’s beautiful taproom in Queens. Molly Browning, the East Coast Technical Sales Manager at Lallemand, will walk us through what buttered popcorn, vinegar, and bananas all have in common (hint: they indicate “spiked” beer).

With an exciting, diverse, and engaging week of programming planned, I’m confident this year’s festival will drive BW(O)B beyond the lofty goals we set in 2018.

I’m humbled that only one year ago, I started developing BW(O)B for my thesis while finishing my Masters in Food Studies at New York University. What began as a project on paper has transformed into a full-fledged week of events, bringing together women beer lovers, entrepreneurs, brewers, podcasters, bloggers, Instagrammers, homebrewers, brewery owners, and more to curate conversations and raise one to the wonderful women of our industry.

I’m honored that so many people understood our vision last year, and am excited that so many partners, brewers, and beer drinkers have joined us to push the new frontier this year. Together, let’s make BW(O)B 2019 a festival to remember, even if it means standing underneath a tent with hundreds of other people sharing a beer in solidarity while the rain falls down around us.

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