Love this poster for the SheBrew Brew Festival.
This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the fourth annual SheBrew, a beer, cider, and mead festival that features female-identifying brewers. One aspect of the event was to support the work of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) through the $20 admission cost. Full disclosure: I attended as media, so my access to the event was comped; however, I admire the work of the Human Rights Campaign, and after seeing them at the event I decided to set up a recurring monthly donation to them.
SheBrew, which took place at the Buckman Coffee Factory (1105 SE Main Street), was split into two rooms—the front room held the homebrewers and the back room held the professional brewers. You could feel the excitement in the space when you walked in, and at times it was a bit overwhelming for me (the room was packed) so I was happy to find a little more breathing space in the back room. In that location there were over 20 beers, ciders, and meads to taste, all in these adorable tiny Belgian-style beer glasses—and tasting samples were substantial.
Lots and lots and lots of beer, cider, and mead lovers.
I tasted at least half of the beverages available, and again I found myself drawn to brews made with or flavored with fruit. My favorites were:
Beer: Welcome Back to Oz, Bi@#%es. This beer had a distinctive green color, and when we approached Ground Breaker brewer Lee Hedgmon about it, she was tight lipped and would not divulge how she made it so green, but did comment on why she made a beer like this. “I just wanted to make something green,” she explained. For me it was the best sensory experience of the event—the beer looked like one thing (perhaps grassy and light) and tasted like something totally different—a Belgian Tripel that was rich and a little sweet. Very, very cool. On top of that, I was unaware at the time that Ground Breaker is a gluten-free brewery! With GF beers like this—don’t let anyone tell you gluten-free beer is weak or uninteresting.
Cider: Hands of Buddha. This was described as “a dessert-apple blend cider infused with Hands of Buddha citron, toasted coriander, and ginger.” I loved how tangy and fresh this tasted, with a touch of barely-there floral notes. It was refreshing and light, and I would love to get my hands on some to drink later in the year. It was brewed by Dawn Stricker of Reverend Nats.
Mead: My Paloma. This has an extended description, too: “Wildflower honey, fresh pink grapefruit juice, freshly grated zest, finished with oak chips cured in Cazadors Reposado Tequila barrel and smoked sea salt.” It, too, was refreshing and tart but with many underlying complex flavors that gave it a warmth as well. I loved how sparkly it felt and it was presented with a slice of lime slipped onto the edge of the glass. I loved it. This mead was brewed by Erica Tate at Nectar Creek.
I have to give props to Angie Watkins of Cider Riot!, whose beer had one of the best names on the list: “Nevertheless, She Fermented.” The wheat beer brewed by Sonia Marie Leikam from Leikam Brewing also had a delightful name, “Will you be my LemonTyme.” I liked them both, too.
To be honest, by the time I made it into the homebrewers room I was almost to my limit in consuming alcohol. However, I was able to still taste the Tiki Party, a rum barrel-aged Belgian Tripel brewed by Meagan Thompson. It was recommended by a woman I met in the back room and it was a great suggestion. After all the lighter, citrusy beer, it tasted rich, sweet, and deep. I really enjoyed it.
If there was anything negative about the event, it was that some of the food from the food truck outside was sub par and did not stand up to the quality of the beer, cider, and meads inside. That’s OK, since Cartopia was nearby and we headed over to grab some ssäm to soak up all the alcohol.
Many thanks to the SheBrew organizers for having me at the festival. It was a really fun event and so inspiring to see the great work of these talented female-identifying brewers. Additional thanks to all the volunteers who were so helpful. I hope the event was a great success and I look forward to attending next year, too.