Power pairing


A local look at women and beer for International Women’s Day

By Hayley Fudge

Photo: Celebrate International Women’s Day with General Manager Tanya Brock at 5th Street Brewpub March 8 photo: Hayley Fudge

At a time in our country when women’s rights have been considered under assault, the world should seize every opportunity it can get to celebrate the female gender.

And you can expect March 8 to be a pretty big deal this year, as it marks a more than century-old tradition of observing International Women’s Day (IWD), a global day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, professional, and political achievements of women.

IWD has been around since the early 1900s—a period that kicked off a massive growth in population, industry, and radical ideas. This year’s theme is #BeBoldForChange, urging participants to be leaders within their own spheres of influence by taking bold, groundbreaking action to accelerate gender parity and progressive change for women.

And since you’re reading a beer column, you probably know where this is headed. Yep, to beer, and how women have shaped, influenced, and continue to be involved with beer today.

The vast majority of both micro and macro breweries around today are owned and operated by men. Interestingly enough, back in the 18th century, a good portion of brewers was female. According to the National Women’s History Museum, women’s involvement in brewing beer traces back more than 4,000 years in Mesopotamia, and possibly long before that in ancient cultures. The ancient Sumerians even had a goddess of beer, Ninkasi.

But forward way ahead to colonial America, when the craft of brewing evolved from Europe to the U.S., and many women were the tavern owners and brewers of their establishments. Housewives were also tasked with brewing beer as part of their daily to-dos. By the late 18th century, female brewers and even brewing as a household art were on the decline, leading us to the male-dominated world of the beer industry that we now know.

But that’s evolving, too. Women are slowly making their way back, taking lead roles in the beer and brewing industry, in sales, operations, ownership, and as enthusiasts and consumers. But it’s estimated that women account for only about 10 percent of jobs in the beer industry.

Locally, we have some women who know how to brew, sell, and educate about beer—and drink it, too.

Tanya Brock, general manager at Dayton’s Fifth Street Brewpub, came into the industry from a background and interest in food preservation and history, including that of beer. She was on the development team of the Carillon Brewing Company concept and was its founding brewer.

“I am blown away by the sense of community in and around this industry,” Brock says. “The camaraderie among brewers is comforting in the way it feels like a family. And the love, support, and interest from the community is heartwarming. Whether it is people brewing together, sharing drinks together, or the lone person at the end of the bar looking for companionship, this industry brings people together and celebrates humanity.”

Still, the beer industry is not without challenges for the women who’ve joined it.

“I think it’s important for women to share their work in the industry—too often, and for too long, we’ve assumed that this is men’s work,” Brock says. “The reality is it is hard work, regardless of who’s doing it. Sharing our stories in the spotlight will help everyone realize the greater image of brewing.”

“I’ve learned that people think women are showing up in the industry as token employees or marketing ploys,” Brock says. “We have always been here—making, drinking, and selling beer. Now it’s time to recognize that and build on the diversity as a means to reflect the community we serve.”

Brock says Fifth Street Brewpub, located at 1600 E. Fifth St. in Dayton, has a couple things planned to mark International Women’s Day on March 8, starting with an all-female brew day with the pub’s staff. In addition, they’ll have a tap takeover showcasing beers from breweries where women have key roles in the operations.

Natalie Phillips, a Dayton native and general manager at the Norwood location of Cappy’s Wine and Spirits, has been a part of the beer industry for some time, with extensive experience working in retail sales and distribution.

Phillips has organized a special event to celebrate International Women’s Day in the craft beer industry. On March 11, the Loveland Cappy’s Wine and Spirits location will host Women in Beer!, an educational tasting featuring 10 beers on tap from breweries with strong female representation, including Ohio’s Jackie O’s and Fat Head’s breweries, as well as offerings from Against the Grain, New Belgium, Dogfish Head, and Stone.

Between 4 and 6 p.m., female brewers and industry experts will take questions and talk beer and their experiences in the industry.

Phillips says, “We welcome any women in the beer industry who would like to come participate and speak during that time slot.”

Fifth Street Brewpub is located at 1600 E. Fifth St. in Dayton. For more information, please call 937.443.0919 or visit FifthStreetBrewPub.coop. Women in Beer! takes place Saturday, March 11 from 4–9 p.m. at Cappy’s Wine and Spirits, 309 W. Loveland Ave. in Loveland. For more information, please call 513.677.2599 or visit.


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Hayley Fudge
Hayley Fudge is one of Dayton City Paper’s Resident Beer Geeks. An enthusiast of craft beer and the culture that surrounds it, Hayley aspires to share her love of beer with others by whipping up beer-infused cupcakes on the regular. Reach Hayley Fudge at HayleyFudge@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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