For centuries, the basic components of beer—water, hops, malt, and yeast—have remained unchanged. But Halifax's Ladies' Beer League is showing the male-dominated industry they've been missing an essential ingredient.
"We are a group for women who love beer, and want to learn more about beer...no experience necessary," explains Tracy Phillippi, Beer Judge Certification Program judge, Taps journalist, beer-tasting expert (yes, that's a thing) and founding member of the Ladies' Beer League. With just two events under its belt, the enthusiastic collective is already garnering tons of media attention, making a difference in the community, and, most importantly, celebrating that magical connection between women and beer (we were, after all, the first brewers—read a history book).
But Phillippi is just as clear on what the league is not: "We are not trying to segregate genders, but rather create a critical mass of women who love beer in Halifax, so we can have more equal representation in the beer community." As any female hophead knows, the "scene" is typically one-sided when it comes to the grains-gender ratio. The LBL is not only helping break down these stereotypes one delicious beer at a time, but is creating an inviting atmosphere for women to educate themselves on and enjoy craft beer, minus the intimidation. Really, it's about keeping the industry as inclusive as possible. "We really hope that the LBL becomes a group organized by different representatives of the industry—from brewers, to saleswomen, to bartenders, to members of the media, to aficionados," says Phillippi.
The first event, held at Garrison in June, was at capacity. "There were women attending from all professional backgrounds, all ages, each and every one of them wanted to get involved. Our expectations were truly exceeded," gushes Phillippi. July's follow-up event, featuring Cape Breton's Big Spruce Brewing at The Wooden Monkey's Dartmouth location, was also sold out.
But, like most female-fronted organizations, giving back is paramount for LBL. They've partnered with this year's Halifax Seaport Beerfest (August 9-10) to offer a VIP ladies-only tour before and during the Saturday afternoon session for 40 lucky women, with $8 of each ticket sale being donated to the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre. "From the start, the organizing committee has always been interested in doing a fundraiser for a cause that directly affects women in the HRM," explains Phillippi. "The Avalon Centre provides a such a valuable service, and seeing that the LBL is all about 'breaking stereotypes,' it's a perfect fit!" Participants will gain entry one hour early to Beerfest, receive a Beer 101 crash course and three beer tastings before the festival begins, and, of course, three hours of glorious beer-festing with the regular ticket-holding plebes.
While LBL normally sticks to one event per month, August also sees the Ladies' Sausage Fest on Tuesday August 13th from 6:30-8:30pm. Hosts Local Source will provide some meaty treats— grass-fed Wild Mountain bangers with Bridge Brewing Belgium honey mustard, cowboy potatoes with garlic fennel sausage coins and sausage salad with rosemary apple sausage—paired with samples from the north end's favourite Belgian brewery, Bridge Brewing. Tickets are $30 and available online.
As for what the future holds for LBL, like the craft beer industry itself, growth is in the hands of its supporters. "Ultimately, to be successful, the group needs to grow organically, and utilize the skills and interests of all beer-loving women in Nova Scotia," explains Phillippi. And she is [h]optimistic. "We have women contact us from other provinces, wondering how they can start a LBL chapter. Really, there is no end to the possibilities!"
Ladies’ Beer League VIP Tour of Beerfest
Saturday, August 10 at 1pm, $51.25 (taxes in, cash only)
Tickets available at Garrison Brewing Company, 1149 Marginal Road
Cunard Centre, 961 Marginal Road