It was all about beer and women on Sunday, as students, teachers and family members from the Niagara College Teaching Brewery gathered for International Women’s Day to celebrate women in the brewing industry.
The group, some experienced and some first-timers, brewed a special beer inspired by the Pink Boots Society, an organization that supports women in the beer industry around the world with scholarships.
The beer is called Rose Wellies, to pay homage to the Pink Boots Society.
Brewmaster student Nicola Davey said the scholarships help female students with a variety of educational opportunities.
“That could be attending educational conferences or doing internships overseas or just working towards some accreditation,” Davey said.
Another goal of the brew day was to encourage women to apply to the brewmaster program, she said.
“Having that diversity of a female voice in (the classroom) is really critical.”
Lauren Zimbalatti, a part-time faculty member and graduate of the brewmaster program, said the project supports the Pink Boots Society in two ways — through the purchase of hops and the sales of beer. The money raised will go to Pink Boots’ Toronto chapter, as it’s the closest one in Ontario.
As a Niagara College alum who has watched the program evolve, Zimbalatti said she’s seen first-hand how these types of scholarships have changed the industry for women.
“When I was a student I was able to go to some of these educational tech talks, which are huge for networking in our industry,” she said. “Especially with some of the associations, like the Brewmasters Association.”
The college uses textbooks from the Brewmasters Association, Zimbalatti said, but it’s tough to get all students out to their educational talks. Currently it’s sort of like a lottery as to which students are picked to attend workshops. Having women-specific scholarships helps increase chances of women being able to go, she said.
Davey said the brew day was both fun and successful.
“It’s just great to have everybody out,” said Davey. “We’re just having a really casual day and I mean, what a great day – you get to make beer.”
The group hopes the Rose Wellies brew will raise $5,000 for the scholarship in their first year of fundraising, to give to students in fall 2021. Money raised will be split between the scholarship and the Pink Boots Society.
The beer is expected to be ready by the beginning of April and will be available at the Teaching Brewery retail store and on tap at Benchmark restaurant at the college’s Niagara-on-the-Lake campus.