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PODCAST GUESTS
Tiffany Pitra
Originally from Iowa, Tiffany Pitra relocated to Yakima, Washington in 2010 where she immediately fell in love with the hop industry. Tiffany holds a B.A. from the University of Northern Iowa and in 2014, she completed the UC Davis Applied Sensory and Consumer Science Certificate Program while building her first raw materials sensory program. She currently serves as the ASBC Sensory Subcommittee Chair, helping validate sensory methods and hosting workshops at annual meetings. At Yakima Chief Hops, she is fortunate to align her professional goals with personal interests; she is passionate about hop quality, sensory education, and growing the Yakima community.
Sue Rigler
Sue Rigler has been a PBS member since 2016. She has been the Collaboration Brew Day Coordinator for the past 5 years. This is their biggest fundraiser and helps fund educational opportunities and scholarships for their members. Sue is very proud to see the participation of Collaboration Brew Day grow year after year. Last year they had participation in 23 countries! She has worked for Krones, Inc since 2018 as a West Coast rep for their subsidiary W.M. Sprinkman.
Kelly Lohrmeyer
Kelly is excited that a small idea in a big hop field has become a driving force behind raising scholarship dollars for women in the Fermented Beverage industry to gain knowledge and excel in their craft. Kelly looks forward to seeing where year 5 takes the PBS Blend. Thank you for supporting a cause that brings fresh beer to your local taproom while giving back to scholarship dollars for education to make great beer!
Ellen Sherrill

Ellen Sherrill’s experiences, professionally and as a homebrewer, have primarily involved ales. Ellen is the head brewer for Crooked Lane Brewing Co. and the Vice President for Pink Boots Society.

MORE EPISODES

SEASON 2, EPISODE 22: PINK BOOTS 2021 HOP BLEND

PODCAST HOSTS:

TOBY TUCKER – DIRECTOR OF SALES, COUNTRY MALT GROUP

GRANT LAWRENCE – TERRITORY MANAGER, COUNTRY MALT GROUP 

JOHN EGAN – TERRITORY MANAGER, COUNTRY MALT GROUP 

GUESTS:

TIFFANY PITRA – SENSORY MANAGER, YAKIMA CHIEF HOPS

SUE RIGLER – BOARD MEMBER & COLLABORATION BREW DAY COORDINATOR, PINK BOOTS SOCIETY

KELLY LOHRMEYER – FIELD MARKETING MANAGER, YAKIMA CHIEF HOPS

ELLEN SHERRILL – VICE PRESIDENT, PINK BOOTS SOCIETY

Key Points From This Episode:

  • How the Pink Boots Society (PBS) assists, inspires, and encourages women to advance careers through education. 
  • PBS has more than 2,500 members worldwide, including Ireland, Rwanda, Spain, and Peru. 
  • 2021 Pink Boots Blend
    • Variety of Idaho Gem, HBC 630, Talus, Triumph, and Loral hops. 
    • 12.5% alpha w/ expected aromas of citrus, floral, and berry.  
  • How the Pink Boots Blend changes every year but brewers can keep brewing by buying hops individually.   
  • The biggest blend changes: More people participating, interacting, and dedicated. 
  • How to participate in International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day. 
  • Why the 2021 Hop Crop Harvest had a challenging year with wildfires and heat affecting quality, yields. 
  • The future of PBS: Continue to grow, fundraise, recruit, and listen to new/existing members. 

Transcript - Pink Boots 2021 Hop Blend

EPISODE S.2, E.22

[PINK BOOTS 2021 HOP BLEND]

[00:00:00] TT: All right. Welcome to another episode of The BrewDeck podcast. I am your host, Toby Tucker. I am short my co-host, my buddy, Grant Lawrence, today. I think he was busy doing some presentations on some other source. Anyway, he’s not with us today, but I’m unbelievably excited to have the cast joining me today. It’s been kind of a long time in the making.  

We’ve tried to piece this particular subject together over a couple of years but finally got everybody together. Thoroughly excited, their time is extremely valuable and happy to have them on. I will just jump right in and let you know that the episode today is all about the Pink Boots Society and all that it stands for—and specifically talking about the Pink Boots Blend that the group puts together every year—interested to hear about that. Welcome, you all. How are you all today?  

[00:00:46] SR: Doing great, Toby.  

[00:00:47] TT: Good. That is Sue Rigler. Hey, Sue. How are you?  

[00:00:50] SR: I’m great. How are you?  

[00:00:51] TT: I’m pretty good. All is good.  

[00:00:52] SR: Thanks for having us on too.  

[00:00:54] TT: Yeah, no problem. Thanks for joining. I also have Tiffany Pitra, who is with Yakima Chief Hops as the Sensory Manager. Hey, Tiffany.  

[00:01:02] TP: Hello. Thanks for having me.  

[00:01:03] TT: Yeah, no worries. Ellen Sherrill. How are you, Ellen? You are the VP of Pink Boots but also a Head Brewer. How are you?  

[00:01:10] ES: I’m good. I am just chilling out here in my janitorial closet brewing.  

[00:01:15] TT: I see that. I see the signs hanging up behind you and the mops. It’s all good, all good. Kelly Lohrmeyer. How are you, Kelly?  

[00:01:22] KL: I’m good, Toby. It’s good to hear your voice. It’s been a while since I’ve seen your face.  

[00:01:25] TT: I think it’s probably been 2 ½ years.  

[00:01:28] KL: Yeah.  

[00:01:30] TT: I miss seeing you. At the time, you’re the regional sales manager for the Pacific for YCH. Is it still your title?  

[00:01:38] KL: No, as I’ve made it into a marketing role. Now I’m a Field Marketing Manager for the west half of America, and I guess the west of Canada as well, and then some other things here and there.  

[00:01:49] TT: Nice.  

[00:01:50] KL: Yeah, it’s been fun  

[00:01:51] TT: Absolutely. I’m going to run back to Sue here. Sue, tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do. You are the board member in Collab Brew Coordinator for Pink Boots.  

[00:02:00] SR: Right. I’ve been a member of Pink Boots for, I think, it’s about five years now. I have headed up the Collaboration Brew Day for the past five years. The Collaboration Brew Day, breweries host brew days around the world. It gains momentum each year, and last year, in 2021, we had over 400 breweries, and we topped out the countries in 23 countries. We pretty much hit everywhere on the globe, brewing together in unity to fund scholarships for our members and for chapters.  

[00:02:36] TT: That’s awesome. Really, really good.  

[00:02:38] SR: Really exciting.  

[00:02:39] TT: Yeah, it is. I came on board with Country Malt Group. It’s probably been 9 ½ years since I learned about the Pink Boots Society. It’s amazing what has been put together and just growing leaps and bounds. It’s exciting to hear about the growth every year. It’s really cool to hear. Tiffany, hi.  

[00:02:55] TP: Hello again. I’ve been a member of Pink Boots for about three years. I’ve been in the hop industry for around ten years. I help facilitate the blending process. In my local chapter, I’m just a member of my local chapter, and I serve as the scholarship chair. Any of the funds that are raised, hopefully, I can help get some of our members to attend some of those scholarship opportunities.  

Mostly, I represent the Yakima Chief side of the whole process in actually getting the samples coordinated and sent out to everyone who wants to participate in the blend-making process. Then tally all the votes and then work with our planning team to make sure that we pick the best form lots to represent all those varieties that will go into the blend. By day, I’m mostly our sensory manager, and I manage our programs internally on assessing every single lot that’s delivered to Yakima Chief during the month of September.  

It was kind of crazy to schedule this podcast even because we’re still wrapping up some of our final deliveries. That was about 1400 unique lots that my team smelled in just around 30-ish days. We’re tired, and then we’ll just begin to assess everything that comes off the production line as well and then also assess beer samples. So kind of representing the sensory side, hoping to provide some education to Pink Boots Society in general, and then help facilitate making the best blend possible.  

[00:04:13] TT: Thanks for joining us. I know typically, harvest and selection are probably 100-hour workweeks for a lot of folks. Just over the past month, we’ve had some difficulty getting people to come on, especially those that were involved in selection. So thanks for doing that. Ellen in the cleaning closet, how are you?  

[00:04:30] ES: I’m good. I’ve been a member of Pink Boots Society for probably at least five years, maybe close to six. I joined not that long after I started in the brewing industry. I heard relatively quickly after getting employed with my first brewery about the Pink Boots Collaboration Brew Day thing. There was an opportunity to go to other breweries, collaboration brew days.  

I started kind of making the rounds going to those. I met some other Pink Boots members, and it seemed really cool. I was really excited about this fellowship program, so I signed up. I ended up getting a pretty, pretty nice scholarship in 2018. I got sent over to Germany. That was pretty amazing. I was in chapter leadership at first, then I made my way onto the board of directors, and I’m closing in on two years on the board now.  

[00:05:20] TT: Good stuff. I think a lot of our listener base knows what Pink Boots is, which is a fantastic thing, just the far-reaching arms that the Pink Boots Society has. Can somebody just, for those that aren’t familiar, tell us a little bit about Pink Boots Society—the history, the mission, and we can jump into the blends that you all put together here?  

[00:05:41] ES: Yeah, I’ll take the basic points for that. We’re a 15-year-old nonprofit organization. We’ve been around for a little longer than that, just like the other groups. We, I believe, became a nonprofit—it was less, actually. It’s 15 years that we’ve been a group. Sue, do you remember?  

[00:05:59] SR: Correct. I don’t know when we officially became a 501(c)(3), but in Charlotte, we’re going to have our 15th conference in 2022.  

[00:06:08] ES: Yeah, we’re coming up on a decent age. Our mission is primarily that of education for women. Formerly in the beer industry, now we’ve opened up to other fermented beverages. We can include women now from wine, mead, cider, kombucha, or what have you.  

We will hopefully be building our scholarship program to encompass more of the various industries because this is a pretty recent development for us. We’re just generally here to support women in these industries, but really, the thing we focus on is education. Most of that effort is through our scholarship program. We try to have a range of things from scholarships for this. It’s not just brewers; it’s women who are in anything from taprooms to marketing, sales, and adjacent industries, of course, such as in the hops, malts, and other beer ingredients.  

We try to have scholarships that are technical, but also leadership and marketing, just what we can offer to women who are in various niches in these industries.  

[00:07:20] TT: It’s awesome. Do you know the number of current members? Just curious how much that’s grown in 15 years.  

[00:07:29] ES: I think we’re at about 2500–2600. Sue might have a more specific number, but the last I heard, it was about that. We’ve had a little bit of ebb and flow for sure. It’s more or less steady growth. We did see a little bit of a dip with COVID, but we’re up again a little bit. It also helps that we brought some new chapters from around the world online.  

[00:07:52] TT: I’m glad you mentioned that, Ellen. Sue had mentioned earlier that it’s not just North America that you guys have participation in. But what are some of the other countries that have memberships or subgroups of Pink Boots Society?  

[00:08:06] SR: We have chapters in Australia, Benelux, Canada, The United States, North America, of course, France, New Zealand, Peru, Spain. We, actually, last year just added a brew day from our sisters in Rwanda. Also, Ireland just joined us last year for the first time.  

[00:08:27] TT: Gosh, that’s awesome. Really, really cool. I saw that Grant joined. Grant?  

[00:08:32] GL: Yeah, I am here. I was a few minutes late. I was just traveling around on the road and realized I had to have a laptop to pull up the Zoom meeting, but glad to be here and happy to hear and learn more about some Pink Boots hops this year. I’ve gotten to hear a little bit about the history just now. Very interesting. I had no idea it was so international these days.  

[00:08:52] TT: Absolutely. Cool. Let’s dive into the Pink Boots Blend because I know at Country Malt Group; we love participating and absolutely love every year when we get to help promote the Pink Boots Blend and get that into the hands of some of our brewers. I guess I’ll start with Tiffany since you’re kind of, no pun intended, boots on the ground there. Can you tell us a list of the hops in this year’s blend? Is it proprietary or any kind? What changed through the year?  

[00:09:17] TP: Yeah, it changes every year. Honestly, if you find a blend that you really like and want to keep brewing with it, you could keep buying those hops individually. But the Pink Boots Blend this year is amazing. I don’t know if people really know about the blending process, but really, we actually try to get as many chapters involved as possible. Especially during the pandemic, we couldn’t get together usually at the GABF, where everyone gets around a table and selects what hop varieties are going to go into the blend.  

It’s a really exciting process; hops are flying everywhere. But this year, since we couldn’t actually get together, we decided to do it virtually and just allow people to sign up for a kit if they wanted their local chapter to receive one. Yakima Chief sent out 11 different hop varieties that they could use for education in their local chapter and the opportunity to actually smell each hop variety, describe what you thought you smelled, which ones you thought would work well together, and then submit your vote. This would be my ideal blend. Our chapter wants to submit this blend.   

Our team at Yakima Chief would review those, and we looked for trends, which varieties were used together with most frequently, which ones were used at a higher percentage in the proposed blends and whatnot, and release. Now here are the top three that you get to choose from, and so then, the groups actually got back together, and they could make those blends separately and vote as a group blend A, B, or C.  

This year, blend A1, and it features Idaho Gem at 30%. This is a really cool hop because it comes from a women-owned farm in Idaho. These are three amazing women who bred this hop in 2012, and they’re in Parma, Idaho. This hop variety is pretty, in my opinion, tropical. It has some berry notes, and then it has a really interesting peach and then herbal or minty notes to it. It’s pretty unique, and it seemed to capture everyone who put that in their blend. So we decided it had to be in there.  

Idaho Gem and then at 20%, there are a couple of HBC varieties coming out of the Hop Breeding Company, HBC 630. It does not have a name yet, but that one, typically, we get like a cherry or berry note out of that one, so 20% of that.   

Then Talus, which is the latest one that HBC has released with a name. This one actually stood out to me the most during harvest this year. It just smells like ruby red like pink grapefruit. It’s just a punch. It’s really only 8% to 10% alpha, kind of an average oil range, but every single time I smell it, it’s in a blind setting, and I set it aside. Okay, I’m going to look that one up. What is it? It’s Talus almost every time because it just smells like pink grapefruit. It’s really high in geraniol. We know that makes it into beer. It’s going to be really citrusy and floral. So that’s an exciting one.  

Triumph is also there at 20%. This is a variety that was bred by the Public Breeding Program. It’s a USDA variety, and it’s typically citrusy and floral. I know they’re trying to grow some of that in Oregon and Washington.  

Finally, 10% of Loral, which has made it into the blend every single year. So in keeping with tradition, 10% of Loral, which is this really floral variety. It has pretty high linalool. It’s very orangey, lemon, and I always get just like a mild rose note from it. I think it should be a really well-rounded, citrusy, floral, and tropical blend with some sweet aromatic notes. I’m pretty excited.  

We actually haven’t produced the blend yet. So I don’t know the final sensory notes, but we’ve assessed lots that represent each one of these varieties, so we have a pretty good idea of how it’s going to turn out.  

[00:12:48] TT: That sounds fantastic.  

[00:12:50] GL: Sounds so good. It’s neat to hear the Idaho Gem being featured in it. That’s a relatively new hop for you guys. I think this is only the second year that YCH has had Idaho Gem, or at least the Country Malts got it from you guys.  

[00:13:01] TP: Yeah. Kelly would maybe have a better idea. Maybe two or three years, something like that. We’re still learning a lot about that hop.  

[00:13:08] GL: It’s delicious  

[00:13:10] TT: Ellen, did you get to participate and have folks from your brewery or your brew crew sit there and do the sensory stuff when they sent you the […] and stuff?  

[00:13:19] ES: Unfortunately, I had nothing to do with the selection of shifting through the top one this year, my chapter. The Sacramento chapter would be the closest to me. They did get together at a brewery down there called Urban Roots. I’m in the foothills outside of Sacramento in a town called Auburn. They had it on a Tuesday evening when I was a 5:00 AM brewer the next morning, so I couldn’t go.  

I was excited to hear about it. I believe they participated again. Basically, YCH sent out one kit, then those recommendations went back, and then they sent out another kit, I think. Tiffany, correct me if I’m wrong, you sent out three samples of possible blends of what was voted on, and then everyone voted what they thought was the best one.  

[00:14:06] TP: Yeah. We just planned ahead and sent everyone two bags of each hop variety, even if it wasn’t a variety that made it into one of the finalists, but people can use them for further education—top three and then a final vote.  

[00:14:18] TT: That’s awesome.  

[00:14:19] ES: My experience of the hop blend was Tiffany and her associates mixed up a representation. It’s not, of course, the pelletized final hop blend that they had blended the correct percentages of the hops that will be going into the blend when some of us were in Yakima to receive the check from the proceeds of last year’s hop blend back in September. They passed out the blend, and it really smells amazing. It’s going to make a great beer.  

[00:14:51] TT: Exciting stuff. Kelly, in your history with YCH and being obviously shaking hands with customers all the time, how have you seen the Pink Boots Blend change over the years? What does that mean to you?  

[00:15:10] KL: I think that what I’ve seen the most change is just the amount of people participating. We’re in our fifth year, and we’ve had so many different brew days come out of it. Every year we’re building year after year after year. I think the first meeting we had, whenever I first brought the hops out, we had about three people really into it, and they were the ones that started putting different amounts of hops in a cup, figuring it out, smelling it, and adding more.  

The next year, there were like 50 people really dedicated to it, and the next year was like 100 or more. These are people paying on their own dime to come out to Colorado to be involved in the Pink Boots’ annual meeting for the USA. Just seeing that level of people coming out, and then when COVID happened, it was such a bummer. We pivoted and went to the virtual selection. We did it for 15 teams last year. It was just a trial to see what we could do.  

Sue Rigler mentioned that we should really try to get it to everybody this year. We thought that was a great cause. So being able to have any active chapter register for a kit this year, and I think we had like 82 or something, which was pretty positive across the world. Just seeing the interaction and growth in the five years has been really exciting.  

[00:16:23] TT: Sue, it just seems like that’s a lot on your plate. The more you all grow and the more collaborations you have, it seems like it’s a lot on your plate. How do you coordinate all that’s going on?  

[00:16:35] SR: That’s a very good question, Toby. After five years and to keep the momentum and the excitement, it just keeps growing and growing. As I said, we started out with 100 breweries, and now we’re up to over 400 plus in 23 countries. This year or actually in 2022, we just formed a committee. I have five volunteers, who are Pink Boots members on the committee, and each of them brings strength to the table.   

One is an editor. Pam is an editor down in Austin. She’s going to be sharing a lot on social media. We’re going to be gathering a lot more stories and sharing those with the women. Ruby and Ala, Ala works at Borderlands. She’s a brewer, and Ruby’s in marketing. They’re going to work on the international teams’ support because we really get a lot of excitement from teams all over the world. I just looked at that, and I want to give them more support.  

The resources were transforming the logos now into French and into Spanish. We have a user guide that is updated each year for tips that walk you through step by step, how to brew or how to conduct a successful collaboration brew day from the hop blend all the way through the donation process. Ruby and Ala are going to be translating that also into French and Spanish.  

Definitely, we have two brewers on the committee as well, Katie and Annie. They are going to be working closely with YCH, Tiffany’s team, to get more of the beer-related stories and information, the technical information about brewing. I look forward to it blossoming, even more, getting support internationally, and growing this year.  

As Ellen mentioned, it’s our 15-year anniversary next year for Pink Boots. We’re having a conference in Charlotte. We have some hefty goals, but I think they are absolutely attainable. We sold out this year 40,000 pounds of the fourth annual hop blend. For the fifth annual hop blend, we are going for 50,000 pounds. We want to have 500 collaboration brew teams and award 50 scholarships. I think those are very attainable goals. Check back this time next year, and I bet you we hit them.   

I also want to thank YCH for your continued support and just Pink Boots in general and for funding our scholarships. Ellen and I were lucky enough to be a recipient of their big huge cheque and more than pun intended, but it was $124,296 that we were just awarded in September for $3 per pound of the fourth annual hop blend. Thank you to the whole team, Michelle, Tiffany, Kelly, Kate, Ryan—everyone. You guys are great.  

[00:19:23] TT: Very good.  

[00:19:24] KL: Did I answer your question?  

[00:19:26] TT: Yeah, it’s awesome. I’m getting excited over here. Grant and I and our sales team over at Country Malt Group, again, we will absolutely continue to do our best and really try to get this Pink Boots blend out to as many brewers as we can. The more that participate, the better. For those that are listening and want to get their hands on some of this when it is ready rolling, reach out to your CMG rep, or YCH for that matter, and certainly try to get some in everyone’s hands.  

I got a note here about International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day. Is it in March, Sue? Is that something Pink Boots is heavily involved in?  

[00:20:00] SR: I’m glad you asked that question. It started, one of our members way back when we had an idea that we should brew on International Women’s Day in support of International Women’s Day. That’s the blossoming of our Collaboration Brew Day. A lot of breweries choose to brew around that anchor of International Women’s Day on March 8th. However, some brew before and release the beer on March 8th, or if your brewing schedule just doesn’t work out for a March brew date, you can brew in April, you can brew in May, you can brew in December, you can brew all year long.  

It’s not really a day, even though it’s called collaboration brew day. It’s more of a movement or an event. Brew any time of the year, and we appreciate all the proceeds and donations that come in from each and every team, as well as the donations now from our treasurer, Jennifer Erickson. She fought very hard for the chapters to retain 50% of the proceeds. They used to go back all exclusively to national, and then national would disperse the scholarships and reimburse chapters.  

However, now, chapters have a little bit more jurisdiction. They can hand out scholarships or fund scholarships on a local level. So the women aren’t competing on some of our larger scholarships. They can keep it local and really get a great educational component on a local level.  

[00:21:25] TT: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. Idaho Gem, HBC 630, Triumph, and Loral—what a great combination. Tiffany, I guess I’ll start with you. Obviously, the world’s the oyster as far as the brewers are concerned, but any particular style of beer that comes to mind with that blend right off the bat, or have you heard from any of your participants of what they’d like to produce?  

[00:21:45] TP: That’s a good question. I haven’t actually gotten a lot of feedback on Idaho Gem beers. I was wondering if Kelly has talked to any customers who have used it and had any really good experiences because I think it’s going to dominate. It’s a big part of the blend. Talus at 20%, too, is going to come in pretty heavy.  

[00:22:03] KL: The Idaho Gem is the one that I haven’t seen much in this market. Dust Bowl Brewing up in Northern California, I think he uses it quite heavily in his IPA. I have not drank that IPA. What I found about Idaho Gem the first time it was in the blend; I felt like it did lend a lot of a spicy pineapple character, almost. I don’t know if that was just amongst the other hops that it was with, but it was a really full-body top. But I can’t say that I’ve used a lot of Idaho Gem, so I would not be the best one to talk about it.  

[00:22:33] TP: I think we’re also trying really hard not to pigeonhole it too. This is a moment for creativity. As Sue said, this is a movement. It’s not just about a day, and it’s not just about one beer style or one beer. It’s about allowing women to get in the brewery and create what they want to and what they think will really work, and use their experience and educate others. I don’t want to prescribe anything.  

[00:22:54] KL: Also, one cool thing to think about too with Pink Boots at the Brew Day used to be a specific recipe. It was like you had to make a specific recipe. I think whenever we were able to get this blend going; it really did open it up for people to have their creative juices flow and to really pick beers that they would like.  

To me, this thing could be really cool in Saison. It could be really cool in a Hazy Pale Ale. It could be really cool in a big giant West Coast IPA. I think that’s what’s really fun about the blend is it just has so much potential.  

[00:23:25] TT: Yeah. Ellen, do you have any thoughts on what your plans are at the brewery, or is it too early?  

[00:23:32] ES: No. […], we make essentially the same as a West Coast IPA, and we just hop it at the same rates with the Pink Boots Blend every year. It’s just interesting to see if you do the same recipe, the same style, what the differences are year-to-year. I’ve been with this brewery for about a year and a half, so I only have one thing for brew day here under my belt.  

It’ll just be interesting to see what this recipe is with Sail On Silver Girl. I don’t know where the name came from, what it tastes like with this year’s Pink Boots Blend versus last year’s. I’ve only ever had one beer with Idaho Gem as a local status California brewery. It’s like a one-off. I’m going to need more experience […].  

[00:24:24] TT: Yeah, the more experienced, the better. I’m trying stuff.  

[00:24:28] GL: I’m looking forward to having it in the blend. It’s such a new hop, like you all are saying. I want to try more beers with Idaho Gem, and I just don’t see it around much. I do know Talus and 630 pretty well. I had this wonderful American-style pilsner that was all Talus. Like you were saying, that pink grapefruit really just came through. Knowing 630 is like cherry candy and hearing a little bit more about Idaho Gem, I could see this being nice in a lager, in a lower percentage, of course. It’s got my gears going. I can’t wait to get some samples.  

[00:25:05] TT: Tiffany, I know you were talking about the back end of the harvest and how it’s very interesting and tough times because there’s a lot of work going on. But I wanted to, for the listeners, get an update. I’m curious to know what the 2021 hop crop harvest will wrap up, or overall, what the harvest and outlook are for everything that’s coming off the mind and getting processed?  

[00:25:29] TP: It was a year of challenges. To be honest, we had a heat scare pretty early on in the season. We were really worried about that affecting the yields. Sustained 120-degree days, we’ll get one here and there, but when it lasts a full week, that can really affect a plant’s maturity. We also had some wildfires in the area, just like in 2020. Not as bad as 2020, but as soon as the first fire started, we thought, oh great, here we go again.  

Those were a couple of quality and yield concerns that we had going into this harvest. But as a person who smelled over 1000 hops samples just in the last month, I can say that the quality’s been pretty good. From what I’ve heard, our yields aren’t significantly short on any varieties. That’s very promising. I know it was kind of a slog. It actually extended our harvest. It started pretty early, and then it just went on for a long time because we also had a couple of rains.  

It’s been exhausting. Usually, we cheer at the Fresh Hop Ale Festival and say, harvest is over, but I think most growers still have a few days left after that. What I can say is that the quality looked really good this year. We were really pleased. As I said, Talus was kind of jumping off the table; Idaho 7 smelled pretty good this year.  

We’re really just monitoring to make sure we have consistency through to type, and I thought we hit the mark. I know Kelly probably participated in some of the selections. I’m kind of more with the quality team, but she was with more of our customers. I don’t know what their feedback was.  

[00:26:59] TT: Yeah. Kelly, I’d be interested to know what the feedback was, and specifically, if there are any varieties that really stand out this year.  

[00:27:06] KL: Yeah, for sure. What Tiffany said, it was really interesting to see the start of harvest and then to see it kind of be scary, but then actually turn out, to me, pretty amazing. Mosaic on the table this year was popping with berries. That elusive blueberry note that people are always looking for was there. Low OG, if none. A lot of the Citra Mosaic, which is always pleasant to see.  

Citra is always one that people are like, “it’s not the Citra I remember from 2015.” To me, Citra smelled amazing. Lots of floral lemons. It’s not really floral, but lemony, clean, really fun stuff. Simcoe was really taken off over the past couple of years. I feel like just getting this fruity side back to it with the underlying pine.  

We’ve been doing a lot of replanting with Yakima Chief Ranches and their flesh cuttings. Actually, instead of cutting off crowns, we’re replanting fields with maybe flesh cuttings or […]. I don’t know if I’m saying that right, Tiffany.  

[00:28:07] TP: Yeah, we’re using sterile tissue culture and making sure that we’re not planting virus-laden rootstock, but actually starting with clean plant material, which is huge. As soon as you plant it, just because there is virus and viroid load in the soils, that will build up, and usually, after ten years, you have to dig something out and kind of start over. So if you can start out with the cleanest material possible, you can hopefully push that back a little bit. It should boost the quality; it should make sure that the yield stays pretty consistent. They’ve helped us a lot with maintaining that quality.  

[00:28:37] KL: Yeah, I feel like it’s really showing on the table too because we’ve been doing that for about three years now if I’m correct, and you can tell. Hops are smelling great, and Talus seems to be a winner. 586 was one that I would keep my eyes on. It has, I think, lots of mango notes to it. It plays really well with the Idaho 7 and Simcoe to me.  

[00:28:56] TT: That’s good to hear. I wish we could say the same about just a kick-ass barley harvest, but there are some challenges there, I’m sure. I see Ellen nod her head. She’s like, yup, yeah.  

[00:29:06] KL: I heard Tyler’s talk. I was in Alaska this weekend. Tyler talked about it, your Tyler, and it was scary, to say the least.  

[00:29:15] TT: It’s going to be challenging for everybody, but the good news is it sounds like we got some awesome hops, so it’s good. Sue, I don’t want to just bounce this off you too. What do you think is the future direction of Pink Boots, where it’s headed? What do you see in the next four, five years looking like?  

[00:29:29] SR: Our strategic calendar is always growing. Listening to our members and growing, our educational component is always high on the list of our plans moving forward. So definitely, the educational component and growing the scholarship program is high up there as far as the growth of Pink Boots and then continuing to fundraise.  

We are a 501(c)(3), so we are going to fundraise. We’re currently working on an impact statement. Actually, we can have that for our members to recruit new members and their chapters. We can go out and seek donations. Just to put how Pink Boots is very impactful and put all our numbers as an example, I calculated just last year in 2021, there were over 750 million pints of beer in the Collaboration Brew Day collectively.  

We all know what happens when you sit around and have a beer with friends. Every beer is a story. We just said that there were 750 million stories being told last year due to the Collaboration Brew Day. Obviously, continuing our fundraising efforts as well.  

[00:30:44] TT: Very good.  

[00:30:47] ES: I would just say, definitely growing the scholarship programs. I mentioned earlier that we have a strong interest in building the entire range of industries in fermented beverages that are now going to be under our umbrella. We don’t just want to have beer scholarships. We’d like to increase the scope of topics, not just the different fermented beverages, but just become more diverse in terms of leadership, marketing, and the other skills that you need or other skills that you could need if you were in the healthy alcohol beverages industry.  

We are just growing the number of scholarships, the scope of the scholarships. We’d like to focus on our members. We’d like to grow our membership and recruit, and we’d like to retain more of our members. We definitely see quite a bit of turnover. Based on a bit of research that we’ve done, we think that part of this is due to the turnover of women in the industry in general.  

A lot of women just come through and then leave and go do other things. I’m not necessarily sure why, but we would like to keep the women that are staying in the industry for a little bit longer. Just have a more diverse membership. What else? What am I missing? Then the important stuff like fundraising.  

[00:32:09] TT: Yeah, absolutely. How do listeners get involved? You’re talking about increasing membership and all that stuff; how would they go about doing that?  

[00:32:18] SR: One group that tends to get overlooked—when Pink Boots was just launched, I was a part of that group—was our students and aspiring members. It was just brewers at first, and then it opened up way beyond that. Just brewers in the beer business, and now as Ellen mentioned, it’s cider, it’s mead, it’s kombucha, and it’s all fermentable.   

Aspiring members, so any female-identifying individual that is in the fermentable beverage industry is very much welcome and invited to seek out Pink Boots, do a little bit of research, and then meet one of us. Aspiring members and students or just studying to get into the industry. I would definitely encourage that group of women to join.  

[00:33:07] TT: Very good. Kelly, I don’t know if this question is for you or for Tiffany. When do you think CMG can expect to have this stuff to hit our coolers, and we can start helping you all get in the hands of brewers?  

[00:33:19] KL: We’re pretty excited this year because our goal is to produce. Even a presale will still be going on until December 15th, which is important for people to get that in because it does really help us gauge what we need. We’re hoping to produce it around Thanksgiving, so the end of November, and then have it ready to ship by (hopefully) that mid-December point and get it out to people. We’re looking internationally too. That’s always been a sticking point, especially now that the shipping containers are taking so long. We’re pushing it up just a little bit.  

[00:33:46] TT: It makes sense. You mentioned presale. Grant, I’m sure it’s been moving on the presale side pretty quickly to some customers out on your neck of the woods, right?  

[00:33:55] GL: For sure, yeah. We’ve had some inquiries about it. People signed up for presale. The Veterans Blend as well; I’m pre-selling that. But one thing I’d like to say is that the blends that YCH does go to a good cause; in my opinion, they’re a huge bang for the buck. They’re priced less than some of the other hops, and the hops that go in are absolutely premium, great hops. I’m always impressed, actually, by the blends. They usually hold up on their own. It’s like using it as a single hop in a recipe, I feel. They usually round it out very well.  

[00:34:26] TT: Good call, Grant, absolutely. Obviously, it goes to support a fantastic cause in the industry. I would like to ask something at the end of all of our shows. Grant, I think you started this, but we’ll start with Ellen. Ellen, what’s in your fridge or beer fridge? Some people say it’s not beer, but what do you enjoy partaking in as far as adult beverages recently?  

[00:34:48] ES: What’s in my beer fridge is not necessarily always representative of my favorite stuff. Often it’s what we have in the door at work. My focus tends to be lagers, really, and then I got to make some IPOs to keep the lights on. I made a Cascadian dark ale/black IPO recently. I’ve been enjoying that. Probably, I got a few stray lagers here and there and maybe some Munich Dunkel or some medicinal […] that’s nice sticking around in there.  

I have a stash in the back; I got some barley wine. My friend, Kat Weiss, who I met at collaboration brew […] it was the Cascadian dark ale. She brought me some barley wine for the last brewery day. We’ll definitely have that on special occasions.  

[00:35:41] TT: Sounds good.  

[00:35:42] GL: A little bit of everything.  

[00:35:43] TT: That’s right. I see Sue smiling over there. What about you, Sue?  

[00:35:47] SR: You know what, I’m not 100%, but I am a West Coast IPA gal. But I don’t have any in my fridge right now because I either drank them all or I can’t find them right now. I live in Arizona. So usually, you get them overdraft, so they’re not always canned, is what I’m saying. I don’t have any, but 100% West Coast. But I do have some Michelob ULTRA Light in there that I mix with pickle juice, believe it or not.  

[00:36:15] TT: Really?  

[00:36:17] GL: Like a post-workout thing?  

[00:36:19] SR: Exactly.  

[00:36:20] TT: We might have to set up a separate call, like intervention Sue. Wow, it’s the first I’ve heard of that, though. Pretty cool.  

[00:36:27] SR: I know. Leave it up to me.  

[00:36:29] TT: Kelly, your stomping ground is obviously on the west coast. You’ve had the privilege of being in a bunch of different breweries. What about you?  

[00:36:47] KL: Sue, pickle juice. Come on, girl.   

[00:36:40] SR: I know, right? And we’re being recorded. How could I?   

[00:36:44] KL: Yeah, super big West Coast fan. We have some of the best here. Some GABF medals came straight out of San Diego, so very lucky to be down here. Burgeon’s making great beer; North Park Brewing’s making great beer, Pizza port. Swami’s is my absolute go-to whenever I’m in doubt. I was just in Alaska, though, and I will have to say, they had a few barley wines up there that were fun to have a few sips of. Yeah, West Coast.  

Talus is making great beer. I don’t know if you guys have heard of Cryo Pop; I’m sure that you have. We’re excited. Cryo Pops are actually being made right now and should be available for all of us here in the next month, I would say. So really excited to see how that changes the West Coast Hazy IPA game as well this year.  

[00:37:30] TT: Nice. Tiffany?  

[00:37:32] TP: I was just in Germany. I came back, and my husband drank all the beers that were in the fridge. So I need to do some restocking, but I was enjoying the traditional styles in Germany, the Helles, the great Augustina Pilsner, and whatever. We’re still in the fresh hops season here, so enjoying and probably going down to Single Hill Brewing, which is like our local. They just took gold for a fresh hop. Energy Cone, I believe, is what it was called. That one has Citra, Zappa, and Cashmere, I believe. It’s pretty tasty. Creature Comforts just sent us some beer to work. So I’ll be taking some of that home to enjoy.  

I’ve been going back to the West Coast IPAs, I guess, kind of the Hazies. I was hitting those a little too hard for a while, so I’m moving back, going more bitter.  

[00:38:16] TT: Great. Grant, your changes week to week, but I haven’t asked you in a while.  

[00:38:20] GL: Yeah. Actually, I was out in Austin recently, so I picked up a bunch of great beers from Pinthouse Pizza. Meanwhile, those are some former Breakside brewers, but they have a fantastic brewery in Austin. They’re doing big things. Pilsners and IPAs, mostly. Fresh green bottles off the line from Pinthouse are what’s in my fridge?  

[00:38:41] TT: Very good. Cool. Hey, any last-minute thoughts for today? Any plugs?  

[00:38:47] KL: I just really appreciate you putting this together, Toby. It’s really nice of you and Grant.  

[00:38:51] TT: No problem. We’re very happy that we can get all of you wonderful people today to chat about it. It’s really awesome. I appreciate the time, and I know that everybody’s very busy. So thank you, Kelly.  

[00:39:00] KL: Yeah, and of course, just remember to have everyone go register. I think that register the Brew Day. Homebrewers are included this year, as well. Right, Sue?  

[00:39:08] SR: Yes.  

[00:39:09] TT: Oh, cool.  

[00:39:10] KL: Anybody can register.  

[00:39:11] SR: You can register at pinkbootssociety.org. There is a register button on there under Collaboration Brew Day. Then you buy the fifth annual hop blend directly from YCH on their website.  

[00:39:25] KL: And Country Malt.  

[00:39:27] TT: That is right. It is available through CMG as well.  

[00:39:31] ES: CMG and then it’s pinkbootssociety.org. The other thing, listeners. Besides buying hop blends, something else you could do to support us is to donate. I believe that’s prominently displayed on the website.  

[00:39:43] TT: Absolutely. Very good.  

[00:39:44] KL: That’s a good opportunity to support a good cause.  

[00:39:47] TT: I agree. We’ll also post some additional information whenever we get this podcast live. For those that have some additional questions, certainly, reach out to [email protected], and we’ll certainly steer you in the right direction. Again, Tiffany, Sue, Kelly, Ellen, we really appreciate your time. We look forward to chatting with you sooner rather than later.  

For the listeners out there, thanks; I appreciate it. Some more information about Pink Boots Society and, more specifically, on this awesome Pink Boots Blend that’s coming out here pretty shortly; reach out to Country Malt Group or our friends at YCH. Appreciate it. You all keep your ears open and tune in on the next podcast wherever you are listening. Appreciate it, you all.  

[00:40:30] KL: Thank you, Toby. Thank you, Grant. Thank you to the Country Malt Group.  

[00:40:31] GL: Thanks, everybody.  

[00:40:32] KL: Cheers.  

[00:40:34] TP: Thank you, you all. 

[END]