I’ve developed a habit recently of doing iconic Washington, D.C.-related things only after having moved out of the District. Whoops. (One thing that’s still on my bucket list? I still haven’t seen the statue of Lincoln inside the Lincoln Memorial — true story, but don’t ask.)
Yes, it would seem I’m unfashionably late to my own hometown. But this past weekend, I managed to do knockout two beer-related District milestones, thanks to SAVOR, although I didn’t actually attend that either. On Saturday, I went to famous ChurchKey for the first time for a private Founders Brewing event, but I’ll chronicle at a later date, because of lazy, out-of-order storytelling reasons.
Instead I want to talk about Sunday, when I attended All ‘Ale the Ladies 2014 Meet and Greet, hosted by the fabulous Tammy Tuck of the Washington City Paper, at The Black Squirrel in Adams Morgan. (This event takes place annually, but until I got an invitation from my friend Tammy of Port City Brewing this year, I had never heard it.)
I usually try to avoid the infamous 18th Street drag in Adams Morgan like the plague — especially during the weekend — as it’s an overcrowded hot mess of drunken people searching for cheap beer, awkward hookups, Jumbo Slice and bad decisions. Seriously, I’m convinced nothing good happens in Adams Morgan after 8 p.m.
On this particular evening, however, we made an exception, and I’m so glad we did.
All ‘Ale the Ladies boasted a peerless “who’s-who of women” in craft beer — like three of my lady beer heros (beeros?), Julia Herz of the Brewer’s Association, Kim Jordan of New Belgium and Julie Johnson of All About Beer, in addition to local rockstars such as Mari Rodela of DC Brau, Erin of Legends Ltd. and April Anderson of Devil’s Backbone.
During this packed event, attendees listened to speakers talk about their own personal experiences as women in the beer industry, enjoyed beer and food pairings curated by each speaker, and mingled with other like-minded gals.
For those of you who are a bit rusty on your beer history, women in beer isn’t a new trend. Dating as far back as the ancient Sumerians — who worshiped Ninkasi, their goddess of beer — brewing was dominated by women. This continued for centuries in many cultures, as being a brewer was considered a “domestic” responsibility. Colonial Williamsburg is a perfect stateside example, as is Thomas Jefferson’s wife, Martha. (She brewed 15-gallon batches of beer every two weeks at Monticello.) Men only took the wheel when beer evolved into a commercialized, for-profit industry.
As craft beer has taken hold of the market in recent years, however, women are making a strong comeback as leaders in the industry. But there is still a long way to go — in 2012, Julia Herz estimated that less than 10 percent of 1,600 U.S. breweries have a female brewer on staff.
There’s no way I can do justice to all of the wonderful conversations and moments I experienced on Sunday — it’s one of those annoying, “You had to be there!” situations.
But here is what I will say: All ‘Ale the Ladies wasn’t just about networking or meeting people. It was an uplifting celebration of women who are passionate about beer.
And, in addition to meeting a few of my “role models,” making new friends and drinking lots of great beer — what’s up, 1500 by Atlas Brew Works, Orange Whip IPA by Mad Fox and Whisker Biscuit by Devils Backbone? — I was inspired to be more active and involved in this growing community of amazing, badass ladies. In fact, I finally put in my application today to join the Pink Boots Society — I don’t know why I hadn’t done that already.
So thank you for putting together such an amazing event, Tammy. I’m already looking forward to next year.