A blog that explores the seemingly endless beer options available, and occasionally brings up your Mom.

Monday, March 7, 2011


     If you have ever wondered who made God's beer, it's a woman, and her name is Ninkasi. Happy Women's History Month. Ninkasi is the Sumerian Goddess of Brewing and is the topic of one of the oldest found writings of civilization titled "The Hymn to Ninkasi". The poem was written around 1800 BC and describes the recipe for a Sumerian Beer. In fact, many ancient societies credit the creation of beer to women, including ancient Egyptians who worshiped the Goddess Hathor for being the “queen of drunkness and dance and the inventress of beer" (can we hang out?). Today, women still open new breweries, manage them and brew their own beer. Just to name a few current beer queens...

Luann Alcorn (Custom Brewcrafters, Rochester, NY)
Sara Choler (Saint Louis Brewery, St. Louis, MO)
Ellen Bounsall (McAuslan, Quebec, PQ)
Melanie Miller (Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA)
Darrah Bryans (Brew Moon, Cambridge, MA)
Barbara Groom (Lost Coast Brewing Co., Eureka, CA)
Anetta Jewell (Great Lakes Brewing, Etobicoke, ON)
Rhonda Kallman (Boston Beer, Boston, MA)
Karen Plunkett (Walkerville Brewing, Windsor, ON)
Mary Lou Moore (San Diego's Riptide Brewery/Brewski's Gaslamp Pub, San Diego, CA)
Deb Carey (New Glarus Brewing, New Glarus, WI)
Laure Pomianowski (Santa Fe Brewing Co. Galisteo, NM)
Lauren Clark (Cambridge Brewing, Cambridge, MA)
Jodi Andrews (Boston Beer Works, Boston, MA)
Mary Rubenstein (Middle Ages, Syracuse, NY)
Jocelyn Hughes (Watch City, Salem, MA)
Carol Stoudt (Stoudt's, Adamstown, PA)
Laura Urtnowski (Les Brasseurs du Nord, Quebec, PQ)
Judy Wildman (Tremont Brewing, Boston, MA)

...you get the point. As a lass myself, it is great to see so many successfull women who have not only taken on the skill of brewing but have gone past that by getting a proper education in the trade and have used their talents, knowledge and passion to create beer they want to share with the world. Now let's see what these wenches got brewin':

Lost Coast's Brewing Company Indica India Pale Ale (6.5% ABV) Our girl; Barbara Groom, Her deal; Pharmacist went Brewmaster. Barbara and her partner, Wendy Pound, had dreams of opening a brewery and cafe, and like anyone who wanted a brewery, they went and bought a Castle in 1989. The Pythian Castle in Eureka, California was the home to Lost Coast Brewing Company but became too small for the success of the business, and is now located just down the road, or Highway 101. So if you like California cruisin' and grapefruits, this is the beer for you. A golden colored IPA that has aromas of tart fruits, citrus and pine. The taste is sweet for an IPA with hints of toasted malts, but the show is in the citrusy floral notes that come through and stay. The hops give an overwhelming grapefruit flavor, which is fine by me. This beer has a finish that brings "bitter" and "refreshing" together. Barbara Groom encourages home brewers to experiment with ingredients as much as possible and to have fun with the small batches, “That’s one thing we can’t do in the brewery, experiment with yeast. Homebrewers have the opportunity to try (yeast strains) out,” Groom says. Knowing your ingredients on a small scale is crucial before moving to a massive system, and Groom must have known what she was doing.

Stoudt's Karnival Kolsch (4.8% ABV) Our girl; Carol Stoudt, Her deal; Kindergarten teacher opens Pennsylvania's first Microbrewery (oh yeah and raised 5 kids, no biggie). Carol is co-owner of Stoudt's Brewing Company, which she opened in 1987 along with her husband, Ed Stoudt. Carol is the face of the brewery, constantly out working the market and hosting events in promotion of their beer. She has been deemed the "Queen of Hops" and I'm just not going to question it. My favorite Stoudt's beer comes out this time of year, so you better find it! Karnival Kolsch is a German style ale that is light in body and flavor. Most people don't give light beers enough credit, because they assume flavor or color automatically makes a better beer (ignore last post). This ale is "smooth like a lager due to the colder fermentation temperature and extended cellaring time", which takes time and talent to create. The smooth factor of this beer is my favorite part. You can pick up a fruity aroma from the bittering hops, and an earthiness from the grain. The taste is round and balanced with a hint of toasted oats and grass with a mild bitter/fruity flavor that lingers with the finish. A very clean and light beer. A perfect session beer for throwing in the backpack and watching the snow melt. Meet Carol here!

Sierra Nevada's Glissade Golden Bock  (6.4% ABV) Our girl; Melanie Miller, Her deal; Brewer went MicroBiologist. When Miller started at Sierra Nevada in 1989, brewers were in charge of making the beer and doing the lab work (sanitizing, infection control). When those two tasks split, she went scientist. Today, she is a crucial part of making sure Sierra Nevadas beers are fresh, clean and most importantly, not infected. Her job get's an A+ with their Glissade Golden Bock. Compared to most bocks, this brew holds back a lot of the malty sweetness and let's the freshness from the hops come through. The taste is clean with hints of bread and grass, with notes of pine and grape from the European hops. A very easy drinking beer that makes me wish I payed attention in biology. Advice from Melanie Miller, Microbiologist at Sierra Nevada, “Everything has to be clean, your hands included. Pull back your long hair. Try not to breathe directly on anything. If you’re covered with grain dust, change your shirt or clothes. Make sure that anything that’s going near the beer is clean and sanitized,”.

      The beer industry may not seem like a ladies job any more, but I'm going to assume we just let the men do all the dirty work for us the past few centuries. Consider the fact that today there are grain lifting elevators, grain mills, electricity etc. all of which take lot of the back breaking work out of brewing, unlike when mass production first came out. Like always, women know when to pop in and out of the "fads" and here we come again, back to make an impact. If you are a woman interested in the beer industry, or a man who is interested in this secret link, click here, because these are some women you should meet.