Last Friday, leading women from across the beer industry and female students from Heriot-Watt University came together to brew a limited-edition kettle sour beer.
Led by Jenn Merrick, former head brewer at Beavertown Brewery and founder of Earth Station, alongside Katie McCain from Pressure Drop, the project was designed to showcase the enormous talent and variety of roles performed by women in the beer industry.
‘The brew day went absolutely brilliantly,’ Merrick told Imbibe. ‘It was so nice to have so many different people come together, especially the students who were able to get hands-on experience and meet women in their industry.’
Commissioned by Greg Wells, who founded of We Are Beer, the company behind London, Bristol and Edinburgh Craft Beer Festivals, the project is hoping to increase the appeal of the festivals to women, who currently make up around 35% of attendees.
The kettle sour beer was brewed at Pressure Drop brewery by over 24 women, including brewers from Burnt Mill, Ramsgate Brewery and Howling Hops, and was chosen as a good summer beer for the festivals with plenty of flavoursome botanicals.
‘We had a laugh about some of the flavour components as we chose them,’ said Merrick, ‘that we might be accused of making a “lady beer”. But we didn’t want something too hoppy that wouldn’t stay fresh.
‘The kettle sour is really tasty, low-abv, and has lots of complexity and aromatics.’
On brew day, everyone from the brewers and Heriot-Watt lecturers to the students was able to get involved on the flavours. Over 50 botanicals were available for experimentation, with the participants using hot-water infusions and a motor and pestle to extract flavours, finally coming up with the recipe for the brew. Katie McCain spent her Saturday night waiting for the sour to reach the exact pH level required.
For the students on Heriot-Watt University’s brewing and distillery course, Friday wasn’t just a chance to see a brew-day collaboration in action, as the line-up of female industry included cellar managers, lead packaging managers and brewery founders.
‘You don’t see a lot of women in brewing roles and active in production,’ Merrick said. ‘We wanted to showcase women in the industry, so hopefully the photos from the day will allow the next generation of women thinking of joining it to envisage themselves in those varied and rewarding roles.’
The limited-edition kettle sour will launch at Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival on 25 May, and will also be available for the London (3 to 5 August) and Bristol (14 to 16 September) festivals.