Beer

Beer Art: Women of Craft Beer

Digital Art by Amy Martin, on display at the Oliver Art Center’s exhiBEERtion II during Frankfort Beer Week.

Artist Statement:

Women of Craft Beer – Amy Martin

Did you know that the history of beer began with women, and females have played a significant role in the brewing scene ever since? In fact, The Oxford Companion to Beer states that “for most of recorded human history, women have been responsible for supplying the world’s beer.” This piece is meant to highlight just a few ways women have impacted the beer scene both historically and today.

The upper left image represents Sumerian goddess Ninkasi, the goddess who watched over all brewing activities. The very first documented beer recipe is from a tablet dating back to 1800 BC called Hymn to Ninkasi.

The upper right image is meant to represent the role that religious women have played in the world of beer. One nun, St. Hildegard of Bingen, was the first person in history to publicly recommend using hops for brewing, because of their healing and preserving qualities. Throughout history, much beer has been brewed in Abbeys by nuns. To this day, Sister Doris Engelhard, Europe’s last brewmaster nun, is brewing at Mallersdorf Abbey. She has been quoted saying that brewing is her way of serving God.

The lower left image represents The Pink Boots Society, a nonprofit with international membership created to assist, inspire and encourage women beer industry professionals to advance their careers through education. Their webpage says, “We are the female movers and shakers in the beer industry.”

The lower right image is meant to represent the need for the craft beer industry to to invest in diversity and inclusion. This includes women and nongender identifying individuals, and people of all different races and backgrounds. The Brewers Association acknowledged this need by establishing its Diversity Committee in 2017. Recently, this issue has come even more to the forefront with the #IAmCraftBeer movement – a hashtag introduced in response to a racist email sent to Chicago beer writer Chalonda White.

Photo of Amy Martin, also known as Polka Dots & Pints, posing next to her "Women of Craft Beer" print on display during Frankfort, Michigan's Beer Week.

11″x17″ prints are available for $15 plus shipping.
(if you live close to me or will be in my area, I’ll get it to you for no shipping fee.)

Beer

Beer Education: Ice Cream and Beer Pairing

A photo of a beer flight and 5 different bowls of ice cream in a beer barrel cellar.

(Note: This is a modified version of a piece I wrote for the Stormcloud Brewing Co. mug club members.)

Back in December, I talked with you all about pairing beer and holiday cookies. It only seems appropriate that now, at the tale end of summer, I talk about pairing beer – and ICE CREAM!

Unfortunately I didn’t have the time (or tummy space) to go around to every ice cream shop in the area (we have so many good ones!) and try their tasty creations with our beer, but I can share with you what I’ve discovered through research as well as a few things I’ve picked up on from personal exploration.

Header that reads: Beer Floats

The story goes that the original ice cream float was invented by Robert McCay Green in 1874 when he made the serendipitous decision to use ice cream in his sodas when he ran out of ice. Some of the most common varieties of ice cream floats are root beer floats, coke floats, and Boston Coolers; and in Australia and New Zealand ice cream floats are called “spiders”. Thanks to creative mixologists and at-home beer & ice cream lovers, beer floats have earned a spot in today’s culture. 

As some of you may know, at the Stormcloud Pub we offer beer floats as a dessert option. Traditionally, beer floats are made with vanilla ice cream and a Porter, Stout, or bourbon barrel-aged beer. This is for a number of reasons, including the fact that visually it looks the most like a root beer float. Additionally, creamy vanilla flavors contrast well with roasty malts and works to tame the boozy burn present in some barrel-aged beer. I also found an article from Draft Magazine that points out the classic combination of vanilla and chocolate, commenting, “we never tire of the melty-milkshake-like duo of vanilla plopped into a rich chocolate stout.” If you are new to the whole beer float thing, I think this is a perfect place to start.

Are there other beer/ice cream flavor combinations to explore? You betcha! Certified Cicerone Marcus TenHarmsel says, “If you consider the basic principles for beer pairings- match strength with strength, find harmonies, and consider contrasting elements- ice cream can offer loads of fun pairings. Especially to the adventurous soul who is willing to make mistakes and try unusual things.”(Meewes). 

Back in 2014, our Head Brewer Brian and Beer Educator Charla did some investigative work regarding beer and ice cream pairings. In an interview with MyNorth.com Brian shared that he thought combining beer and ice cream “would be disgusting.” According to the article, he was surprised with how well some of the combinations worked. He also shared that “in almost every pairing, the beer that went with the ice cream was a surprise. The thing is, when the pairing did not work, it really didn’t work, like you wanted to spit it out. But then you’d hit the one that worked, and it was like, Oh my gosh, that is really, really good!”

This week I went to visit our friends across the street at The Cool Spot and did a little taste testing of my own. These combos won’t be available in the pub, but if you’re craving a frosty treat and feeling adventurous, here are a few combinations I suggest trying at home:

A beer and ice cream pairing chart, matching Stormcloud Brewing Co. beer with various ice cream flavors.

Orange Sherbet with our 228 Tripel: This was definitely a combination that I didn’t see coming. It was pleasantly reminiscent of Triple Sec, which has made me wonder – if I also add some cranberry sorbet, would it taste like a Cosmopolitan? Looks like I have some more taste testing to do…

Lemon Cheesecake Bar Ice Cream with our Whiled Away® IPA: I absolutely LOVED this combination. Bitter, hoppy beers do well when paired with foods of equally strong flavors, and this ice cream does the trick. The lemon helps to highlight the gorgeous citrus notes in Whiled Away® while the graham cracker compliments the clean malt bill – and the sweet, tangy cream cheese cuts through the hop bitterness in the most delightful way.

Pistachio Almond Ice Cream with our B., Sirius Dubbel: Our B., Sirius Dubbel has the slightly sweet taste of brown caramel malt up front, which transitions to flavors reminiscent of dried stone fruit mid-palate, and ends with a distinctly dry finish. This combination seemed like a no-brainer – nuts are the perfect pairing with caramel sweetness and dried fruit. Trust me, even if you don’t like fruit cake, this fusion of flavors is one worth trying.

Michigan Pot Hole Ice Cream with our Rowed Hard Stout: Initially I was concerned that this combination was going to have too much going on, but soon discovered that it’s a match made in heaven. Rowed Hard has some sharp, bitter, roasty notes from the dark malt we use, and the rich, creamy sweetness of this fudge-filled dairy treat balances it out perfectly.

As a reminder, taste is subjective. You may find a combination that you absolutely love, but that others are less than thrilled about. To me, the best part of food and beer pairing is the journey – both trial and error and successes. My advice is to be willing to try all sorts of bold, unusual combinations, because you never know what wonderful tastes you could find. If you decide to do some ice cream exploring with craft beer, I’d love to hear about your delicious discoveries! In the words of craft beer, food, and travel writer Bryan M. Richards, “Remember it’s beer – so have fun!”

A header that reads: Beer Ice Cream

If the thought of putting ice cream in your beer is just too much for you, perhaps you would be more interested in putting beer in your ice cream. Ice cream companies across the country are working with local breweries to concoct beer-flavored ice cream. A few of my favorite that I’ve come across are Sweet Action Ice Cream in Denver, Salt & Straw in Portland, and Frozen Pints in Atlanta. There are plenty of folks doing it right in Michigan as well, including Ice Box Brand in Muskegon and Furniture City Creamery in Grand Rapids. Are you more into DIY? The American Homebrewers Association published this articleon making your own beer ice cream.

Photo of Amy (Polka Dots & Pints) taste-testing the different beer and ice cream for this piece.

John Steinbeck’s character Doc from Cannery Row thought, “a man with a beard, ordering a beer milkshake in a town where he wasn’t known – they might call the police.”

Don’t worry, folks – I won’t call the police if I hear you order a beer float!


References:

“5 fantastic beer floats.” Draft Magazine, draftmag.com/5-fantastic-beer-floats/.

Richards, Bryan M. “How to Pair Beer with Desserts That Aren’t Chocolate.” CraftBeer.com, edited by Jess Baker, Brewers Association, 9 Feb. 2018, http://www.craftbeer.com/beer-and-food/no-chocolate-no-problem-how-to-pair-beer-with-desserts-that-arent-chocolate.

Meewes, Veronica. “The Beer Float Guide That Will Transform Your Summer Drinking.” Food & Wine, Meredith Corporation, 20 June 2019, http://www.foodandwine.com/fwx/drink/beer-float-guide-will-transform-your-summer-drinking.

Smith, Jeff. “Pairing Ice Cream and Microbrews, a Northern Michigan Brewer Advises.” MyNorth.com, 31 Oct. 2014, mynorth.com/2014/10/pairing-ice-cream-microbrews-northern-michigan-brewer-advises/.

Beer

Beer Eduction: Hops!

(Note: This is a modified version of a piece I wrote for the Stormcloud Brewing Co. mug club members.)

As someone who has found themselves on a beer blog, I’m sure you have heard of hops. You probably know what they look like, and might even know that we have a few varieties of hops growing in the Stormcloud Brewing Company StormGarden. I’m hoping this article touches on a few things you might not know about this imperative brewing plant, and helps continue the growth of your beer knowledge.

There are four ingredients that unify nearly all beer – malt, water, yeast, and hops. Some people new to the world of beer are surprised that hops are in all beer styles, including dark, sweet, and non-bitter beer. In Germany in the 15th century there was a beer purity law adopted called Reinheitsgebot, which declared that the only ingredients that could be used in the making of beer were water, barely, and hops – with yeast being added after its discovery in the late 17th century. Reinheitsgebot “is now considered the world’s oldest, still valid food food safety and consumer protection legislation” (Oliver, 692). Though there are a few historical beers made without the use of hops (such a Gruit), the vast majority of modern beer styles require hops. Why? Hops are the ingredient in beer that provides its “backbone of bitterness, increases its microbiological stability, helps stabilize its foam, and greatly influences its taste and aroma” (Oliver, 459).

Okay, but what exactly are hops? 

Hops are the flower of humulus lupulus, which is a climbing plant classified as a bine (yes, with a “b”.) They are members of the Cannabaceae family, which makes them the cousins of hemp, marijuana, and hackberry. One thing that makes the hop plant unique is that, “unlike most plants, individual hop plants are male or female” and “the best quality hops come from unpollinated female plants” (Cicerone, 22). They are native to Northern Hemisphere, and are believed to have originated in Mongolia “at least six million years ago” (Hieronymus, 46).

Originated in Mongolia? How’d they get all the way here?

According to beer journalist Stan Hieronymus, a European type of hop diverged from the Asian group more than one million years ago and a North American group migrated from the Asian continent approximately 500,000 years later. In his book The Story of the Pint, Martin Cornell calls the fact that we may never know how brewers discovered the importance of boiling hops “the greatest unanswered question in the history of brewing.” Before hops were used in beer brewers used gruit, an herb mixture created to provide flavor and bitterness. The use of gruit was gradually phased out in favor of the use of hops in a “slow sweep across Europe between the 11th and late 16th century” (Brown). In the American colonies, in addition to being used for brewing hops were used in salads, dyes, textiles, basket and wicker-work, and livestock feed. According to Michigan State University’s College of Agriculture & Natural Resources the first commercial hop harvest in the United States was in in 1791 in Massachusetts. By 1859 seven‐eighths of the nation’s hops were harvested in New York State. As people moved westward, so did the production of hops. Hops began to be grown in California in 1857, Washington in 1866, and Oregon in 1880. At present, the major hop producers are Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. 

A photo of a family in the 1940s harvesting hops for beer making. They all have the Stormcloud Brewing cloudburst over their faces.
Photo: Ernst Family at Horst Hop Ranch, 1946

An incredibly brief primer on the science of hops:

In the image below, you’ll see the plant anatomy of a hop.

A diagram showing the inside anatomy of a hop cone, labeling the different parts - string, bracteole, bract, and lupulin glands.

Inside the hop flower (or “cone”) is a yellow powder called lupulin powder, which contains the key compounds that bring flavor to beer – resin and essential oils. According to the Cicerone Brewing Ingredients and Process Coursebook, “Bitterness comes from the resins; aroma and flavor come from the oils” (23). In hop resin you’ll find alpha acids, which in natural form won’t dissolve in wort and aren’t very bitter. It takes the heat and agitation of the brewer’s boil to transform them into bitter iso-alpha acids. When brewers use hops for bitterness, they are typically added at the beginning of the boil and are referred to as “bittering hops.” Outside of bitterness, every other hop trait in beer (like aroma and flavor) come from the oils found in the lupulin gland. The Cicerone Brewing Ingredients and Process Coursebook also states, “hop oils typically constitute less than 2% of the weight of dry hops, and yet they contribute substantial flavor to the beer” (23). When you leave hops in for an extended time during a boil, most of the hop oils evaporate – this is why brewers add “flavor hops” roughly 30 minutes before the end of the boil and “aroma hops” roughly 10 minutes before the end, instead of adding them all right at the beginning.

Hop Flavors

Since you know that nearly all beer styles contain hops, you’ve probably figured out that there are a large variety of hops flavors. To get an idea, check out the hop flavor wheel below from Randy Mosher:

In the 2012 book For the Love of Hops, Stan Hieronymus lists 105 different hop varieties with unique flavor characteristics for brewing, but new hop varieties are being bred all the time. Additionally, the same hop variety grown in different regions impart different flavor characteristics. On the chart below, you’ll find the flavor and aroma profiles for some of the most popular hop varieties.

The next time you see a hop variety listed for a beer you’re drinking, I challenge you to try and identify some of the correlating aromas and flavors. Don’t get discouraged if there are characteristics you don’t pick up – scent and taste are subjective, and everyone experiences them differently.

Hop flavor can be so magical in beer that it can convince you there are othercompounds added, even when there aren’t. For example, those juicy, hazy beers out there? Most of them do not contain any fruit juice. This “juicy” effect is achieved by hop selection (typically ones with high oil content, bright flavor, and tropical or citrus characteristics), late boil or whirlpool additions, and dry-hopping. Take our Commander X-2 “Saizy” (hazy Saison) – we PROMISE there’s no grapefruit juice in it.

Additional hop-related vocabulary:

hop pellets – hops compressed into pellets that contain all the alpha acids and oils of whole hops and can be used at any time in the modern brewing process where whole hops would be used. The advantage of hop pellets is that they take up less room and are packaged to reduce degradation in storage. Most Stormcloud beer is made with hop pellets. 

dry-hopping – the addition of hops to beer in the fermenting, conditioning, or serving vessel. This is done to intensify hop aromatics and add different aroma than hops added in the late boil. 

IBU – stands for ‘International Bitterness Units’ and is the agreed-upon standard for measuring bitterness in beer. While it’s a good place to start when looking at a beer menu, “the usefulness of the IBU to the beer consumer is debatable. Once the beer leaves the laboratory context, many factors including other hop components, roast character, carbonation, water chemistry, and residual sugar, may exert such influences as to make the IBU an entirely unreliable indicator of actual perceived bitterness” (Oliver, 490-491). That said, I still try to drink my flights in the order of lowest to highest IBU to prevent palate fatigue. 

cryo hops – (also known as lupulin powder) is a powder much more concentrated than whole hops or hop pellets, and it is recommended brewers use about half the amount of regular hops.  One brewer calls them “all that you like about hops without the bitterness” (Hahn) where another thinks “it’s a less stable product. A beer hopped with 100% powder, the aromas and flavors drop off quicker than with pellets. So we like to use a mix of pellets and powder” (Krommydas). To date, the only beer Stormcloud has made using part cryo hops is the small batch Diabadass IPA. 

hop extracts – a concentrated paste made of extracted hop resin and oils. Unlike whole hops or hop pellets, they do no need to be refrigerated and they are fully soluble.

harvest ale – a beer brewed specifically for the fall hop harvest, using fresh wet hops (instead of the year-round kilned hops.) Our 24:30 Harvest Ale is a good example, which is made using local hops from within a 30 mile radius of our brewery and brewed no more than 24 hours from when the hops are harvested. 

hop yard – a plot of land for growing hops that consists of “a robust trellis system built of wire and telephone poles and reaching 18-20 feet in height” (Cicerone, 24). 

Now that you’ve consumed an abundance of hop knowledge, I think it’s time for you to celebrate with a nice, hoppy beverage – namely Stormcloud beer!


References for this article:

Brown, Diane. “A brief history of hop and its uses.” Michigan State University, 2014, East Lansing, MI, http://www.canr.msu.edu/uploads/236/71516/ipm_academy_2014_intro_to_hops.pdf.

Cicerone. Brewing Ingredients and Process Coursebook. 2nd ed., Chicago, Cicerone Certification Program, 2018, pp. 22-26. Road to Cicerone.

Hahn, Fritz. “This concentrated hop powder is making brewers go crazy.” The Washington Post, 11 Aug. 2017, http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/this-concentrated-hop-powder-is-making-brewers-go-crazy/2017/08/11/510782f4-7e14-11e7-a669-b400c5c7e1cc_story.html?utm_term=.4288eb39ea11.

Hieronymus, Stan. For the Love of Hops. Brewers Publications, 2012.

Krommydas, Niko. “What Is Lupulin Powder and Why Are Brewers Obsessing Over It?” Edible Brooklyn, 28 June 2017, http://www.ediblebrooklyn.com/2017/what-is-lupulin-powder-and-why-are-brewers-obsessing-over-it/.

Oliver, Garrett, editor. The Oxford Companion to Beer. Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 711-712.

Image Sources:

Ernst Family at Horst Hop Ranch, 1946 – https://www.flickr.com/photos/osucommons/5765583236/ 

Inside the Hop Cone – Amy Martin

Hop Flavor Wheel – https://randymosher.com/Tasting-Beer

Flavor & Aroma Profiles of Popular Hops – https://vinepair.com/articles/flavors-aromas-craft-beer-hops/ 

Stormcloud Beer with Hops – Keirsun Scott

Beer

5 Space Beers to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

(And no, Blue Moon didn’t make the list)

A spiral galaxy in the background with comets made from beer hops in the background and text that reads "Polka Dots & Pints presents 5 Space Beers to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing"

This Friday, July 20th, is the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Whether you believe we actually landed there or that it was all shot on a Hollywood set, it’s a great excuse to celebrate with a cold craft beer.

Did you know the first fermentation in space happened in 1998, and it was beer?! According to NASA, It was part of Kirsten Sterrett’s graduate thesis at University of Colorado Boulder and was in part funded by Coors. The Fluid Processing Apparatus (seen below) is what she used to ferment her extremely small batch beer. 

A photo of Kirsten Sterrett’s Fluid Processing Apparatus, which was used to make beer in outerspace.

Without further ado, here are the 5 Space Beers you should consider for celebrating Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s walk on the moon. Shoot, we’ll also raise a glass to Michael Collins, the third astronaut of the Apollo 11 mission who flew the command module.

Beer Hates Astronauts

The label for Beer Hates Astronauts made by Half Acre Brewing

Beer Hates Astronauts is an IPA brewed with Vienna malt and Citra hops from Half Acre Beer Company. The juicy, tropical flavor combined with a creamy, velvety mouthfeel is sure to please.

Commander X-2

The poster for Commander-X2, a beer from Stormcloud Brewing. Includes the phrase, "Don't call it a hazy, it's a saizy"

Commander X-2 is a “saizy” (hazy Saison) from Stormcloud Brewing Company. It was actually released to celebrate the “50th anniversary of humankind’s first trip to the moon.” It’s packed with an Earth-shattering blast of Comet and Galaxy hops, creating a super juicy aroma over a hazy, golden glow.

Neptune

A photo of a bottle of Neptune from Bell's Brewery

Neptune is a spiced Imperial Stout from Bell’s Brewery. This beer is an oldie, released in 2015 and the last of their Planet Series. I know some people have been cellaring it, and I can’t imagine a better reason to bust it out than to celebrate the lunar landing! 

Lupulin Astronaut

A can of Lupulin Astronaut from Sun King Brewery

Lupulin Astronaut is an IPA from Sun King Brewery. It is brewed with Mosaic, Chinook & Mandarina hops, and is “brewed in honor of those brave souls who remain dedicated to discovering new worlds of citrusy hop flavor.” You’ll get citrus, especially orange out of this one, as well as some herbal undertones.

Moon Juice

A can of MoonJuice IPA from SanTan Brewing Company

Moon Juice is an IPA from SanTan Brewing Company. The Galaxy and Nelson-Sauvin hops in this bad boy produce some incredible stone fruit and tropical flavor. If this had existed back in 1969, the astronauts would’ve wanted to take it with them.

What beer are you going to drink to celebrate the moon landing? Let me know which beer I missed in the comment section below!

Beer

Beer Education: Saisons

(Note: This is a modified version of a piece I wrote for the Stormcloud Brewing Co. mug club members.)

Here at Stormcloud Brewing Company we have brewed over 30 unique Saisons to date, so many of our customers are familiar with this style. As a brewery, we are self defined as “a small brewery crafting ales within the time-honored Belgian brewing tradition of ignoring time-honored brewing traditions.” I think of all the different beer styles we make, the Saison is the ultimate expression of this Belgian-inspired creativity/rule-breaking. Today I want to dive a little deeper into this versatile beer style.

Saison Characteristics

What exactly IS a Saison? That question is a lot more complex than you may think. According to brewing consultant and writer Phil Markowski, “modern Saisons defy easy categorization. They can be as contradictory as they are uniform” (Oliver). The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) guidelines, which are the industry’s leading authority regarding beer styles can’t even easily categorize it – unlike most other BJCP categories, they not only list a range but also multiple options for SRM and ABV. Even among Stormcloud’s portfolio of Saisons you can find a large variety. Here are just a few of our previous Saisons to demonstrate:

Saison du Stormcloud – deceptively dark, with only a hint of dark malt flavor. Refreshing.

Photo of a pint class that contains the craft beer Saison du Stormcloud, an example of a dark saison.

‘Tis the Saison – Our annual Orange-Cranberry holiday Saison. Oranges, cranberries and a hint of ginger.

P’eaching to the Choir – Saison with pickled peaches, pickled jalapeño and pickled cilantro.

Despite all the diversity, there are a few characteristics that ring true for most Saisons: they tend to be highly attenuated, dry, and very carbonated.

History of the Saison

Saison translates to “season” in French. See the graphic below to see where this name (and this beer) originated:

A graphic describing the origin of the saison beer style. This is an excerpt from The Oxford Companion to Beer written by Phil Markowski.

Saisons were most frequently consumed by farmworkers to both refresh and nourish them after long days working the fields – which is why I sometimes refer to them as “the Gatorade of beer.” Sounds like a great reason to consume more Saisons, right?

Farmhouse Ales

I often hear people asking if Saisons and Farmhouse Ales are synonymous. The answer is yes – and no. At some breweries, when they say “Farmhouse Ale” they mean “Saison.” This is not completely accurate, because Farmhouse Ales is referring to a family of beer. So, “all Saisons are Farmhouse Ales, but not all Farmhouse Ales are Saisons” (Levy). Farmhouse Ales is an umbrella term that includes a variety of styles. What links these styles together is their agrarian origin. Here are a few of the Saison’s farmhouse cousins:

Bière de Garde – A fairly strong, malt-accentuated, lagered artisanal beer from Northern France brewed in early spring and kept in cold cellars for consumption in warmer weather. All are malty yet dry, with clean flavors and a smooth character. 

Gueuze – Spontaneously fermented wild ales from the area in and around Brussels and stem from a farmhouse brewing and blending tradition several centuries old. A complex, pleasantly sour but balanced wheat beer that is highly carbonated and very refreshing.

Grisette – While this one isn’t technically agrarian, it’s considered close enough. As Belgium’s Hainaut region began to shift from farming to mining, the Grisette was born. It is essentially a Saison for miners instead of farmhands, and has a lot of stylistic similarities.

Sahti – A sweet, heavy, strong traditional Finnish beer with a rye and juniper berry flavor along with a strong banana-clove yeast character. Casks of Sahti were discovered on a sunken Viking ship dated back to the 9th century, and “some historians even claim ancient beer styles like sahti were the motivation behind developed agriculture in Scandinavia” (Bryant).

Of course these are just a few of many Farmhouse Ales. All over the world where there were farms, there were alcoholic beverages created from the farm’s crops. 

Alright readers, if you had the means of making your own Saison, what kind would you make? Have any of you homebrewers out there tried your hand at it? I’d love to hear from you!





References:

BJCP Beer Style Guidelines. 2015 ed., Beer Judge Certification Program, 2015, p. 50, 51-52,  58. 


Bryant, Duncan. “Sahti: One of the World’s Oldest Beer Styles.” American Homebrewers Association, edited by Dave Carpenter, http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/how-to-brew/sahti-one-of-the-worlds-oldest-beer-styles/.
 

Colburn, Randall. “Raise a glass to saison, the farmhouse ale brewed to last through the dog days.” The Takeout, edited by Kevin Pang, Nov. 2016, thetakeout.com/raise-a-glass-to-saison-the-farmhouse-ale-brewed-to-la-1798254691.


Hutto, Emily. “What Makes a Saison a Saison?” Craft Beer & Brewing, edited by Jamie Bogner, 2016, beerandbrewing.com/what-makes-a-saison-a-saison/.


Levy, Seth. “The Difference Between Saison and Farmhouse Ale.” The Beer Connoisseur , edited by Lynn Davis, May 2019, beerconnoisseur.com/articles/saison-vs-farmhouse-ale.

Oliver, Garrett, editor. The Oxford Companion to Beer. Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 711-712.

Beer

Beer Education: A History of Women in Beer.

Amy, the author, holding a beer at Stormcloud Brewing Co.

A recent Auburn University study found that 29% of brewery workers are women (Hurley). If you’ve been in our pub, you’ve certainly met first-hand some of the amazing women working in the modern beer industry. You may have also heard of the Pink Boots Society (a non-profit organization which supports women working in the brewing profession) – but did you know that the history of beer began with women, and females have played a significant role in the brewing scene ever since? In fact, “for most of recorded human history, women have been responsible for supplying the world’s beer” (Oliver 848).

Ancient Civilizations

When looking back to the ancient civilizations who first sipped our favorite beverage (Sumeria, Babylon, Egypt) we find that females were the ones responsible for brewing the first beers. Babylonian women made history by participating “in some of the world’s earliest commerce as they sold their beer with new forms of bookkeeping and writing” (Nurin). Additionally, in these ancient societies the deities of brewing were goddesses, not gods. A tablet discovered in Sumeria, dubbed the “Hymn to Ninkasi” (the goddess who watched over all brewing activities) is dated back to 1800 BC and describes the very first beer recipe. Egyptians worshipped the goddesses Tenenit (the goddess of beer) and Hathor (the inventress of brewing.) On the negative side, we can thank Cleopatra for being the first person to implement a tax on beer (Nurin). Other notable beer goddesses of the past include Mbaba Mwana Waresa, the Zulu goddess credited with the invention of beer, and Yasigi, the Dognon people of Mali’s goddess of beer, dancing, and masks.

Image of Sumerian beer wallowers with straws, depiction about 3000 b.c., today part of the collection of the Vorderasiatischen Museums Berlin

Middle Ages

As society developed, it is no surprise that beer stuck around (it’s just so gosh-darn delicious!) Over in Scandinavia during the Middle Ages, “real Norsemen (a.k.a. Vikings) allowed only women to brew the ‘aul’ that fueled their conquests” (Nurin). Additionally Nurin states, “Viking women drank ale, flagon for flagon, along with the men.” 

In Europe during the Middle Ages, brewing was a part of women’s at-home chores, and at the time did not require a big up-front investment, providing “a decent source of income in times of need for both single and married women” (Oliver 849). Brewsters, which are what women who brewed beer were called, had some advertising methods that may bring certain iconography to mind – “to be noticed in crowded markets, they tended to wear tall, pointed hats. To indicate when a brew was ready, broomsticks would be placed in the doorways of alehouses. Images of frothing cauldrons full of ready product and six-sided stars to indicate the quality of the brew also abounded. Lastly, out of manifest necessity, cats would be kept in the brewhouses to protect the grains from mice” (Hendricks). Could our modern vision of witches have stemmed from medieval alewives? Though no one knows for certain, “the Church and anti-witch propaganda may have contributed to beer making becoming a boys’ club” (Nugent).

Drawing of Mother Louse, oxfordshire alewife. She's wearing a tall hat and has the face of what we would say looks like a witch.

Post-Plague Europe saw the increased consumption of ale, and women did not have access to the money or political influence that was required for large scale commercial brewing. As Europe transitioned to larger breweries, “the late 14th century saw a surge in breweries ran by married couples, with the wives providing brewing know-how and the husbands providing the capital and political connections” (Oliver 849). Over time, men became the predominate brewers, but women still contributed to the revolution of beer. One nun, St. Hildegard of Bingen, “has the distinction of being the first person to publicly recommend the use of hops in brewing for their healing, bittering, and preserving properties long before anybody else” (Hendricks).

1700s

In 1700s Russia, Catherine the Great was the ruling empress. After signing a commercial treaty with Britain, she gained quite a fondness for a beer that was known as the London Stout. This beer was dark and high in gravity, and became a common export to Russia upon Catherine’s request. It is thanks to her that in modern times this beer is “widely known as Russian Imperial Stout” (Oliver 230).

Painting of Russian Empress Catherine II (Catherine the Great) holding a beer.

After the British colonization of America, women were brewing beer at home, which was an important part of the colonial diet. In fact, “settlers of the colonies drank large quantities of beer as a nutritional break from a diet based largely of salted, smoked and dried meats” (Baugher). Women were so closely tied to beer at this time in America that there were beers called bride-ale and groaning beer: the first sold during weddings to honor the bride and the latter to be consumed “during and after labor by the midwives and mothers” (Baugher). In Philadelphia in 1734, “Mary Lisle become America’s unofficial first brewster when she took over her father’s brewhouse” (Schell.) Many historians also like to highlight First Lady Martha Jefferson’s contribution to beer history, for supervising most of the brewing done for President Jefferson – but it is important to note that the real individuals who deserve the credit for brewing are the Jefferson’s slaves. Similar to what happened in Europe, 18th century America witnessed that  “women as brewers and even brewing as a household art was on the decline, giving way to the male-dominated world of the beer industry” (Schell).

Modern Brewing

The craft beer industry in the U.S. is currently booming. This was not a slow, steady growth – in the 1800s there were nearly 4,000 breweries, Post-Prohibition around 700 reemerged, and in the 1970s there were only 80-something breweries in the whole country. Fortunately, in the past three decades, craft brewing has made a comeback. This recent growth “has marked a clear resurgence of women playing crucial roles in the modern beer industry” (Oliver 849). Breaking back into the industry hasn’t been easy, with “the main obstacles that women continue to face in this industry include perceptions of taste, media influence, and preconceived notions about their skill and ability” (Baugher). What’s interesting is that women are actually recognized as having a “superior sense of taste and smell” and a “greater ability to remember and recount sensory experiences” – skills responsible for earning women “valued seats on educated beer sensory analysis panels around the world” (Oliver 849). Despite the obstacles, women are taking the modern beer industry by storm. To cap it off, I’d like to share just a few of the amazing women I admire in the modern craft beer world:

Kim Jordan, the co-founder of New Belgium Brewing; once served beers on a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, delivered a newborn son the next Wednesday, and opened a new brewery the subsequent Monday. Gwen Conley, one of the world’s leading microbiologists, an expert in fermentation, and Director of Brewery Production and Quality Assurance at The Lost Abbey. J. Nikol Jackson Beckham, a professor of communication studies with a PhD and the first-ever Diversity Ambassador at the Brewers Association. Nicole Erny, the first female (and fourth person overall) to pass the Master Cicerone Exam. Sister Doris Engelhard, who brews her beer in the Mallersdorf Abbey and is the last nun working in Europe as a brewmaster. Teri Fahrendorf, brewmaster, road brewers, and founder of Pink Boots Society. She survived third degree burns and skin grafts to 11% of her body after a brewing accident involving 50 gallons of boiling water. Kate Power, Betsy Lay, and Jen Cuesta – founders of Lady Justice Brewing Company, who donate all their profits over costs to organizations that support the status and opportunities for women and girls. L.A. McCrae, founder of Black Star Line Brewery, the first and only black-owned, queer woman-owned brewery in North Carolina. María Antonieta Carrión, founder and master brewer at Cervecería Madrina and one of the few master brewers in Mexico.


Notes:
-This is a modified version of a piece I wrote for the Stormcloud Brewing Co. mug club members.
-Additionally, while doing my research I realized that a lot of main stream articles I read on women in the history of beer were very much focused on European/American, white women. I know there is a lot more beer history that includes women of color from all over the world. I was not able to do as much research I would’ve like to by the time this piece was due – but I intend to. This current post will ultimately be part 1 of 2.


References:

Baugher, Krystal. “Women and Beer: A 4,500-Year History Is Coming Full Circle.”
The Atlantic, Nov. 2013, http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/11/women-and-beer-a-4-500-year-history-is-coming-full-circle/281338/. 

Chapman, Gray. “What We Talk About When We Talk About “Bitch Beer”.” Punch, Apr. 2018, punchdrink.com/articles/what-we-talk-about-when-we-talk-about-bitch-beer/. 

Hendricks, Scotty. “The dark history of women, witches, and beer.” Big Think, 9 Mar. 2018, bigthink.com/scotty-hendricks/the-dark-history-of-women-witches-and-beer.

Nugent, Addison. “For Centuries, Alewives Dominated the Brewing Industry.” Atlas Obscura, 17 Aug. 2018, http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/women-making-beer.

Nurin, Tara. “How Women Brewsters Saved the World.” Craft Beer & Brewing, Feb. 2015, beerandbrewing.com/how-women-brewsters-saved-the-world/.

Oliver, Garrett, editor. The Oxford Companion to Beer. Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 229-30, 848-849.

Schell, Allison. “Women and Beer: A Forgotten Pairing.” National Women’s History Museum, May 2017, http://www.womenshistory.org/articles/women-and-beer-forgotten-pairing.

Image Sources:

schneider-weisse.de/en/node/196

commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mother_Louse,_Alewife_Wellcome_L0000658.jpg

pinterest.com/pin/252905335295533535/