In medieval England, the majority of brewers — and consumers — of beer were women. Since then, brewing has become a male-dominated trade, and beer became the drink of choice for boorish, brutish men, too inelegant for the delicate sensibilities of the fairer sex.
Now, Kayla Johnson and Sarah Howe are rallying local women to reclaim their spots as brewmasters and beer swillers. The Brewnettes is a local beer league — a ladies-only group of women with a passion for beer.
Johnson and Howe are administrating the group, with support from Port Rexton Brewing Co. Ltd.’s Alicia MacDonald. When McDonald met Johnson and Howe, their shared love and passion for the product sparked an immediate friendship.
For the co-administrators, beer tourism was a major factor in igniting a love of craft brewing. “I first got interested in craft beer back in 2011 after a trip to Montreal,” says Johnson. “Friends of ours had gifted us a hand drawn map of Montreal with all of their favourite breweries listed… That original trip has led to beer vacations in Toronto and Halifax and it was there that I connected with other women and friends who were interested in the craft beer world.”
Howe first started appreciating beer in 2012, during a year exchange in Switzerland. “The European culture around drinking was very welcoming and I was able to have the opportunity to learn a lot about beer,” says Howe. “After returning to Canada, I was very much alone among my friends, in terms of exploring new beers and even drinking beer itself!”
The group is modelled after similar beer leagues in other Canadian cities, including Barley’s Angels in Ottawa, and the Ladies Beer League in Halifax.
MacDonald attributes much of her personal craft beer growth to the educational events made available by the Halifax group.”It sparked an interest to go from partial mash brewing to all grain brewing. After years of home brewing we have followed our dream to open a microbrewery in NL,” says MacDonald. “I’d love to have more commercial females brewers on the island.”
For now, the group’s main goal is to increase women’s interest and love for craft beer. “Kayla, Sarah and myself are beer-loving women,” says MacDonald. “There are lots more in this province and we want to create a point of contact, The Brewnettes, to bring everyone together to provide shared information. It’s another avenue to meet with other women to chat about beer, over a beer. In the future, we’d love to tie in educational sessions. For now, we want to see the group grow.”
The group — and you’re invited! — will be meeting at 6pm, at Mill Street Brewpub, on February 8th. You can find the Brewnettes via their Facebook group.