JAMES ISLAND, SC – These days, brewing beer is thought of as a man’s thing. But there is a group of women in Charleston looking to change that through education. And they’re using it as a chance to give back to the community.
“Just because we don’t have a neck beard, it doesn’t mean that we’re not capable of brewing and brewing a good beer,” says Sara Gayle McConnell. She and her husband are two of the owners of Tradesman Brewing Company on James Island.
Centuries ago, brewing beer was a woman’s job. But these days, women are the minority
“I’ve been interested in beer for a while and as a woman I think that’s kind of out of the ordinary,” says Leah Miller. Early on a Sunday morning, she is one of a dozen or so women milling around the Tradesman brew house.
“It’s definitely more hands on. So we’re psychically shoveling out the grain. Lifting bags and pouring them into the hoppers,” Leah explains.
A woman brewer is known as a brewster.
“It became an acronym. So Building Relationships Empowering Women Striving To Exist Responsibly is what Brewster stands for. Besides brewing beer,” explains Sara Gayle
The group is brainchild of Macey Walter of Frothy Beard Brewing and Sara Gayle McConnell of Tradesman.
“We wanted women on the other side of the bar whose significant others or spouses or boyfriends or whoever wouldn’t let touch their brew equipment. Or say they just liked beer and wanted to know how it was made,” says Sara Gayle.
“I’m so excited that other people are also excited about the beer. I don’t feel like a weird girl for being super into beer. It’s just neat that other people are interested in the craft. They’re interested in learning the science behind it,” exclaims Leah.
Sarah Gayle says her favorite ingredient in the process is education.
“I like that part because then they can connect all the dots to what they’re actually tasting and smelling and seeing in their beer glass when they go out,” Sara Gayle explains.
On top of learning about brewing, the women are also giving back… to other women.
“The women come in they get a whole education day. They learn how to brew the beer. They get hands on experience. And then a dollar per pint of everything we sell in our tap room goes to the local charity that we’ve named,” says Sara Gayle. The Brewsters pick a local women’s based charity to benefit from pint sales of the beer brewed by the women.
“It’s turned into a Charleston kind of club and so we’re really benefiting Charleston women,” says Sara Gayle.
And the benefits just keep coming.
“Beer brings people together! And I think there have been some really great women that I’ve been blessed to meet in the last couple months that I never would have come across,” muses Leah.
Bringing women together over hops and suds.
All of the Brewster beers from participating breweries across the Lowcounty will be available at their event Wednesday night at the Craftsmen Kitchen and Tap House. The event is just one of the many events happening during Charleston Beer Week.
Charleston Beer Week 2016 runs from Sunday, September 11th until Saturday, September 17th.