Night Out: Women in Brewing at The Pike Brewery

Image from Seattle Beer Week

Oh, man, is it Tuesday already?  Back to work and weeknights after two days of fun and frivolity (and Monday)?  Yes, indeed.  I can’t believe that just over one week ago, at this time, I was on the other side of the state and on my way to what would be a fantastic evening celebrating not only terrific Washington beers, but the wonderful women who worked so hard to brew them.

Last Monday, I attended the 2nd Annual Women In Brewing event as part of Seattle Beer Week, an event presented by the Pike Brewing Company and Thirsty Sisters to benefit the Planned Parenthood and the Pink Boots Society, an organization comprised solely of women working in the brewing industry..  The event featured numerous beers brewed by women brewers across the state, as well as a variety of snacks from local vendors.  The venue, the Pike Brewery’s Museum Room located in the aft of the restaurant area, provided an outstanding milieu for the night’s festivities, as well as an ever-present reminder why we were all there: because we loved great beer!

As I entered the event, I was delightedly overwhelmed at just how many people were there: tons of breweries from around the state, a slew of vendors from the area serving everything from cupcakes to oysters to pulled pork sliders, and, of course, a bustling crowd of dedicated beer lovers.  There was so much to see and to try; where was a girl to begin?

DSCN2062Upon entering, one of the first breweries I came across was Island Hoppin’ Brewery based on Orcas Island.  I have visited the San Juan Islands numerous times with my family over the years (Thanksgiving on the islands was a family tradition for years), and the islands’ three resident killer whale pods (J, K, and L pods) are my absolute favorite aspect of the area.  That said, nostalgia got the better of me, and I couldn’t refuse a sample of the brewery’s K-Pod Kolsch.  Light, golden, and slightly sweet, the light ale was an excellent introduction to the evening’s brews.

Making the rounds through the packed Museum Room, I got a peek at some of the vendors offering snacks at the event: Taylor Shellfish had two varieties of oysters available for everyone’s oyster-shooting pleasures, cleverly named d:floured had a couple of gluten-free treats out for sampling, and Seattle’s own Brave Horse Tavern had miniature breakfast sandwiches out for the masses’ enjoyment.  As if beer weren’t enough, there were also liquor samples available for sampling: BroVo Spirits featured a few of their herbally-inclined liqueurs including lavender, Douglas fir, and ginger.  In all, it was a feast for the eyes and the palate.

After a swift tour through the entirety of the event, I got back to beers.  As one would hope, some of Seattle’s more well-known breweries were in attendance.  A city staple, Fremont Brewing Company brought a couple of their own brews, including a bright summer ale with basil and grapefruit.  Keeping with the theme of fruit-accented beers, Naked City Brewery brought two versions of the Belles of St. Clements, actually, three versions, if you count their impeccably dressed representatives manning the taps (see photo at top of post).  The standard St. Clements is a summer saison, easy-drinking and perfect for hot summer days.  The exclusive version featured at this event was brewed with apricots, lending the brew an extra dose of very slightly earthy sweetness that left me looking forward to warmer days.  Not to be left out of the fun, Elysian was there, too, serving up both regular and Randall-ized versions of the newest release in the trip series, its collaboration with New Belgium.  The buckwheat ale alone sounded enticing, but as I’d first been introduced to Randalls earlier that day, I was eager to try the infused version of the beer.  The Randall-ized version of the buckwheat ale featured whole hops and roasted peanuts.  The medium-brown ale gained an addition of unusual roastiness from the peanuts, as well as a bit of extra bite from the hops.  The combination of flavors was deliberately intriguing and left me with inspiration for my next homebrewing endeavor.

What would a “Women in Beer” even party be without a few female brewery owners?  Fortunately, there was no shortage that evening.  Pike Brewery co-owner Rose Ann Finkel made the rounds throughout the evening, chatting with vendors and visitors, while her husband and fellow Pike co-owner, Charlie Finkel, did the same.  Haley Woods, owner of one of Seattle’s newest breweries, Peddler Brewing Company, was on-hand serving up a couple of Peddler’s brews.  Opened only two months ago, Spinnaker Bay Brewing Company, owned by Elissa Pryor and proudly holding the title of Washington’s only woman owned and operated brewery, was also present and serving up their porter.

It was truly inspiring to see so many women not only doing what they loved, but making beers that other people (many of whom were also women) loved.  I think that it is amazing that so many women, not only in Washington, but around the US and abroad, are making such waves in the modern craft brewing industry.  Looking a ways back at history, brewing used to be a task designated to women.  However, with the rise of industrial brewing, women’s roles largely fell by the wayside.  Today, brewing is, once again, becoming an arena in which women are highly active participants and are proving themselves to be undoubtedly every bit as skilled as their male counterparts.  Whether brewed by women or men, I look forward to continuing to enjoy the ever-creative and constantly growing onslaught of great beers from my home state of Washington, as well as everywhere else I may travel or find myself.  Yep, I’ll drink to that.

Additional Women in Beer Links:

3 Female Craft Brewers to Watch

Meg Gill’s Heady Run at Golden Road Brewing– Meg Gill is the owner of Golden Road Brewing Company and the world’s youngest female brewery owner

The Naked Pint and The Naked Brewer by Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune

Women of Craft Beer: A Quick List

Pink Boots Society


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