Pink Boots: Women and brewing in Virginia's Blue Ridge

Local women brewers are getting together to brew and move up

DALEVILLE, Va. – Thursday is International Women's Day and a group of women with ties to brewing, gathered at Ballast Point Brewery in Botetourt County to make it about beer as well.

"We just want women to feel more comfortable in the brewing industry itself," explained Chelsea Moneymaker, lead taster at Ballast Point's Botetourt facility and a leader for the Blue Ridge Chapter of Pink Boots, an organization with the aim of seeing more female brewers.  

"The group is about learning about brewing, the fellowship with other women in the industry, and their trials and tribulations on moving up in learning the brewing process," Moneymaker said.  

A group of about half a dozen women gathered in the middle of the Ballast Point warehouse, where they had set up a microbrewing station.  When the beer is ready, they will have about two kegs of their unique recipe.

The Blue Ridge Chapter of Pink Boots is small, having just gotten started.  But other areas of the country have much larger chapters.  

"A lot of chapters wind up with like a hundred to 200, maybe even 300 depending on the area," Moneymaker said.

"Today we are brewing a Belgian White IPA. Using the Pink Boots blend hops, explained Andrea Lee, who also works at Ballast Point.  "It's just going to be, something that we collaborated with and thought would be a good fit because we haven't seen anybody else do a white IPA."

Also helping with the process were a number of women who enjoy brewing beer at home.  

"I'm used to 5-gallon batches and so I've been anxious to see how it's done on a larger scale, said Beth Durham of Roanoke and a member of the Star City Brewers Guild, a group of more than 100 local brewing enthusiasts.

"I'm the brewer in the family. I craft all the recipes and do all the brewing," said Durham. 

She explained that her husband and her son were also heavily involved in the family hobby.

All of the women present agreed that the fairer sex has great prowess at crafting and brewing beer. But, they agreed women just haven't broken through the industry's glass ceiling for brewers.

"Obviously it's a male-dominated industry and so it's kind of a way that women can come together, have some fellowship, talk about different beers, and learn about the process as well in a less intimidating atmosphere,"  said Moneymaker.

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