March 8th is International Women’s Day. I’m not going to harp on about what annoys me when it comes to marketing and beer and women. I’ve already done that here and my opinions haven’t changed much. One thing that has changed though is that women in the beer industry have been getting a lot more attention of late. And that is in part thanks to the efforts of Hayley Slater and the #SheLovesBeer campaign. She Loves Beer started in August last year as a way to say – hey, women brew/drink beer too y’know!
The latest campaign celebrated not ladies involved in the beer industry though, but “ordinary women doing extraordinary things”.The result was a collaboration with five breweries who each chose a muse and brewed a beer for them. The beers – called She Loves Beer Collectables – are now on sale at the three branches of Beerhouse, as well as from League of Beers, but order quickly – these beers are very limited edition. The beautiful labels come with each woman’s story (my favourite was Tasha Mentasti’s – I mean, teaching a blind child how to surf is pretty amazing stuff) so you can learn a little about the ladies that inspired the beers. But what about the beers themselves I hear you ask?
In rough suggested tasting order, Copperlake’s Starry Eyed Blonde is a solid enough blonde ale, touch of biscuit and a slight whiff of citrus, though I didn’t get the lemon or rose garden, red berry or pine nuts promised on the label. It’s a simple braai beer inspired by a hip-hop dancing triathlete mother of three. As a mother of just one who likes dancing and wouldn’t dare go near a triathlon, I can’t help thinking Sally Hatfield should have got a ballsier beer.
Next up, Two Point Five, a very sessionable amber ale that is – you guessed it – 2.5% ABV. For me it was one of the biggest hits. Brewing lower ABV beers is not easy and the beer packs in a solid amount of flavour – plenty of toast and a touch of marmalade with a massive whiff of grist (malt that’s crushed and ready to leap into a mash tun). The brainchild of Apollo Brewing Company, it was in no small part inspired by co-founder Nicola’s recent leap into motherhood and all the “I wish I could have a second beer” moments that this brings with it.
Agar’s Brewery chose to season their Mamphudi Summer Ale with Aussie hops, giving it subtle notes of grapefruit and pine. It’s a sessionable golden ale that I loved when first tasted, though my advice is to keep it well chilled. Meanwhile Mad Giant opted for a spiced weiss – Free Fall – featuring Tasmanian mountain peppers, coriander and cloves, though what I mostly picked up was a gingery note (no, that’s not a reference to the brewer, before you ask). It’s a fairly complex beer and one that I reckon would pair awesomely with the Asian food served at Urbanologi, Mad Giant’s in-house restaurant. I did have a slight issue with its appearance – the head doesn’t linger for long and it lacks the bright tinge of a weiss. And as a side note, I would like to see a video of Mad Giant’s Eben Uys jumping from a plane, inspired by his skydiving champion muse, Beverly Cosslett.
And finally, the beer that was perhaps the biggest hit of the Beerhouse launch last night, Stoked Saison, brewed for surf champion, Mentatsi by Drifter Brewing Co. Dry and spicy, it’s a great example of the style and while the added litchis didn’t come through for me on nose or palate, it was still a great beer that paired surprisingly well with a chilli chocolate brownie.
The Collectables were a great initiative and the events organised to launch them were very well run, very well attended and a lot of fun. I would have like to have seen a couple of bolder beers in the range – something darker, stronger and/or hoppier. Basically the kind of beer people stereotypically think that women don’t drink. And next year (if the campaign is repeated), it would be great to see the brewsters taking part – we happily have enough female brewers now to put together at least a six pack, if not a case.
If you want to know more or fancy tasting them, I have just the event for you. This Saturday, South Africa is celebrating International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day. We’re a few days late (it was actually yesterday) but decided to host the event on a Saturday – and you’re all invited (yes, even you there with a penis!). We will be brewing a batch of beer from around 9am at Afro Caribbean Brewing Co in Kenilworth. There will be informal talks throughout the day, then at lunchtime (around 1pm, but the schedule depends how the brew is going) I’ll be running a tasting with the #SheLovesBeer brews as well as a few other goodies.
The day is of course about celebrating women but for me it’s more about networking. The beer industry is frankly a bit of a sausage fest so the chance to hang out with a bunch of ladies for the day is quite a treat. Come and join us, sniff some malt, chuck a handful of hops into the kettle, learn about brewing from the likes of Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela, grab lunch and a pint of ACBC then taste a few beers (kindly sponsored by League of Beers). All are welcome and it’s a drop-in kind of a day. The beer will later go on tap at Banana Jam, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Nonceba Family Counselling Centre in Khayelitsha, so keep an eye out and once it’s released, come and drink some for a good cause.
See you there!