It’s a dreary afternoon at Shanty Shack Brewing, but Brittany Crass has sunshine in a bag. The bright, floral, cannabis-like scent of hops floats into the brewery as she weighs out two pounds to be added to a triple IPA already bubbling away in a fermenter. This late-stage process, called “dry hopping,” will give the already hoppy brew a powerful aromatic punch.
The week before, Crass and a dozen other women in the local brewing community gathered to participate in a collaborative brew day on International Women’s Day as part of a national event organized by the Pink Boots Society, a nonprofit organization created to assist, inspire and encourage women in the beer industry. Crass, the Bay Area Chapter leader, says that more than 240 registered national and international teams participated—more than twice as many as the year before. The collaborative beers will be released throughout March to celebrate Women’s History Month, with a portion of sales benefiting the Pink Books Society.
Rather than give a stylistic requirement, as in past years, Crass says that this year the teams were given a common ingredient: a Pink Boots Society hop blend created by Yakima Chief—Hopunion, which contains Palisade, Citra, Simcoe, Mosaic and Loral hops. Three dollars of every pound purchased was donated to PBS.
These choice, fragrant hops drove this group’s recipe development, as well as a desire to step outside of a box they felt had been drawn around these types of brews.
“I feel like most women’s brew days that I’ve been to have brewed a beer that’s stereotypically ‘girly,’ with rosehips or hibiscus,” says Crass. “I love beers like that, but for this brew we wanted to go big and heavy.” Their “Free the Triple” Triple IPA will be a fruit-forward New England-style hop bomb with an added citrus boost of fresh grapefruit zest and juice. Shanty Shack Brewing is hosting a release party on Tuesday, March 27 and proceeds from pints, Crowlers and Growlers will benefit the Pink Boots Society.
Crass says the best part of the brew day was the comfortable learning environment for participants at all brewing levels. “In this day and age, everyone is one-upping each other on what they know about beer, but it felt very open and comfortable to ask questions. No one was trying to prove anything and everyone had a great time.”