By Feature Contributor Jeremy Banas
If you’ve hung around the craft beer scene in the U.S. long enough, chances are that you’ve become involved in at least a few of the industry’s efforts to help steer the beer industry itself, and society-at-large, toward becoming more diverse, equitable, and inclusive of all people regardless of race, gender, and sexual orientation.
A unique initiative that works toward this goal, is the beer industry’s use of a special hop blend from Yakima Chief Hops referred to as the “Pink Boots Blend” after the organization of the same name. The Pink Boots Society was formed in 2007 by longtime brewing veteran Teri Fahrendorf, to “assist, inspire and encourage” women in all aspects of the brewing industry to advance their careers through education.
Four years ago, hop producer Yakima Chief partnered with Pink Boots to create a unique hops blend that could be used by breweries around the country in their beers to celebrate and support women in the industry with creative beers. Each year members from Pink Boots chapters around the country, and along with Yakima staff, smell, rub, and experience a wide variety of hops for each year’s blend.
This year, the Austin chapter of Pink Boots was a part of this incredible experience and helped to select this year’s Pink Boots Blend. With a pandemic in full swing last year, chapters around the country, including Austin, were sent hop varietals to try and the selection was done virtually, instead of during an event at the Great American Beer Festival. I sat down with Sheila Garcia, Marketing and Hospitality Manager for Austin’s Hold Out Brewing, who was the Capital City’s brewing Covid baby when they opened in April of last year right after most of the country was in lockdown.
Sheila started in the beer industry as the social media and events manager at Hops and Grain, working up to chief communications manager, and in 2019 made the transition to Hold Out Brewing, which was in the planning stages. She also serves on the board of directors for the Texas Craft Brewer’s Guild, as well as their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion subcommittee.
Garcia says that she was stoked when Hold Out and head brewer Brent “Schmitty” Sapstead wanted to get involved, and not with just one beer. Hold Out went the route of getting several of their female employees involved in the effort.
Taking this year’s blend, comprised of Cashmere, Ahtanum, Citra, and Loral hops, Hold Out looked to do something a little different from that of other participating breweries, releasing four different beer styles (released in a 4-pack) with the Pink Boots blend and involving four different employees in the effort.
Here’s a breakdown of each beer and the women behind them:
She’s Speaking, a West Coast India Pale Ale designed by Sheila Garcia, Marketing & Hospitality Manager at Hold Out. She’s Speaking will be paired with a California-style chicken burger Friday to Sunday, or until sold out.
Red Bread Redemption, an Irish Red Ale, was designed by Lindsay O’Rourke, Executive Pastry Chef for Hold Out & Better Half Coffee and Cocktails (the sister venue to Hold Out).
Space Jam, a Summer Stout with seasonal fruit, was designed by Lauren Dickens, Creative Designer, Hold Out Brewing and Better Half Coffee and Cocktails.
Carlita, a hoppy Kolsch, was designed by Stephanie Duran, previous Sous Chef at Better Half (currently at Suerte), and fermented with St. Elmo Brewing’s yeast strain from their popular Kolsch ‘Carl’.
“He (Schmitty) was kind of looking at our organization as a whole and realizing that there were four prominent women in leadership,” says Garcia, who said that Schmitty went on to say that “we were four rad ladies, and for us to get together and talk, decide what we’re going to do. If we wanted to collaborate on a single beer or make multiple beers.”
When Garcia, O’Rourke, Dickens, and Duran met to discuss the project, they realized that they each had different favorite style ideas and that a different beer for each one was definitely in order. The result? Four beers that are as unique, yet still related, as the women who created them.
Proceeds from sales of Hold Out’s Pink Boots beers will land in the Pink Boots Society scholarship fund, which gives women in the beer industry help in attending educational seminars, classes, certifications, tours, and to inspire female brewing professionals to advance their careers with education.
Hold Out has an anticipated release date of Friday, April 16th, Austin area residents can look forward to quite the treat when they pick up their 4-packs available at the brewery directly.
Feature image courtesy of Hold Out Brewing