Nova Scotia

Halifax brewers crack open a cold one for gender equality

Glasses will be raised at a Halifax bar this week in celebration of women in brewing in hopes of dousing any gender stereotypes that linger in the booze business.

Female-focused beer event aims to celebrate women excelling in craft beer industry

FemmeBot is an event to celebrate beer brewed by women on International Women's Day. (Nic Meloney/CBC)

Glasses will be raised in Halifax this week in celebration of women in brewing in hopes of dousing any gender stereotypes that linger in the booze business. 

Kelly Costello and Erica Fraser are the organizers of FemmeBot, an all-day, women-focused event to be held Wednesday at the Good Robot Brewing Company. The event will coincide with International Women's Day.

Because we can

The two women have each brewed a small batch of beer and worked together on a large batch called Red Moon, which they named for three female NASA mathematicians essential to launching space missions.

Costello and Fraser's beer will be served alongside other creations from breweries in the province with female brewmasters and brewing staff. (Nic Meloney)

Costello, who works at Good Robot, said they planned the event ​ to simply celebrate beer and women.

Their intention was not to make a political statement.  

"We did it because we wanted to ... because we can," she said. "It's not because of the status of women's rights. It's in spite of it."

Costello said she thinks while it isn't the case at Good Robot, women in the alcohol industry still face gender stereotypes on a regular basis. 

The event at Good Robot Brewing Company will feature discussions and presentations on gender equality, sexual consent and making beer at home. (Nic Meloney/CBC)

"Men are the chefs, men are the head bartenders, men are the owners ... and women are the servers," says Costello. "That's got to change. 

"When I tell people I brew, they're constantly shocked. It's not shocking; I'm just making beer." 

The women's beer will be served alongside four other brews from Nova Scotia breweries with female brewmasters and brewing staff. 

Kelly Costello says making beer is easier than making bread. You just have to wait longer for it. (Nic Meloney/CBC)

Women in spirits, too

Julie Shore, master-distiller and owner of the Halifax Distillery Co., said no one should be shocked by women who make beer or spirits. 

"Beer was invented by Egyptian women," said Shore.

"Men would even decide their wife based on the quality of the beer that they made, knowing that the mother would pass along the recipe to the daughter and he would be able to enjoy that for years to come." 

Shore said despite the significant contributions by women to the alcohol industry, men historically get the credit. 

Shore says people are typically surprised when told that J.D. Shore, the name on her signature rum products, is a woman's name. (Nic Meloney)

"We just get lost," she said. "I'm a little biased, but I do feel that [women] have better palettes, and not just for making alcohol. When I go into a restaurant and see that it's a woman chef, I know that it's going to be really unique and across the board on flavour."

Halifax's Ladies Beer League, which has more than 200 members, is holding its annual general meeting at FemmeBot. Good Robot has lined up presentations and entertainment on topics from gender identity to sexual consent.