Bre McCormick is Country Malt Group’s Pricing Specialist.
Kelsey primarily supports United Malt Group’s Canadian business, which includes Canada Malting and Country Malt Group. She’s been with the organization for more than eight years. Her priorities include advising the business on best practices when it comes to labour relations, performance management, recruitment and retention. Kelsey also partners with a fantastic team to work on the organization’s diversity, equity and inclusion strategy.
Sarah has nearly 15 years of experience developing and executing strategies that support business objectives, reinforce company culture and strengthen brands. She joined United Malt Group in July of 2021 and currently serves as Director of Global Communications and Marketing. The proud granddaughter of a former Froedtert Malt salesman, Sarah enjoys IPAs and, more recently, smoked beers. She’s thrilled to be a part of the industry.
Erika Morgan is the Chief People Officer from United Malt Group.
Jamie Beyer has a Bachelor’s degree in Bioprocess Engineering. She started at Great Western in 2017 when she moved to Vancouver. Her first job with GWM was unloading the incoming railcars of barley at the Vancouver plant. She spent two years in the Quality Lab and then two years in the Malt Innovation Center. Currently, Jamie is working with the Operations team. There are a lot of things Jamie loves about the PNW, and the collaborative beer community is one of them!
Natasha’s first taste of craft beer was on a trip to San Diego in 2010. While eating at Oggi’s, she found herself drinking a delicious Amber and was hooked. In following years, she tried every craft beer she could and became acquainted with the myriad of styles that brewers are producing.
However, her craft beer calling didn’t really come until 2013. While attending Simon Fraser University to complete her Chemistry degree, Natasha joined the home brewing and beer appreciation club. A local hops distributor approached them to take part in an inaugural university home brewing competition. Their club was the underdog, but the first beer she and a friend ever brewed won best-in-show and, as part of the prize, got to have their recipe scaled up for commercial production.
Since that day Natasha has held many positions in and strived to be a part of the fabric that makes up the craft beer community. She has worked in a home brew shop, been a craft beer sales representative, and was the brand manager and beer buyer for National Beer Hall in Calgary, Alberta. In 2017 she took the jump to the production side and has worked with Bomber Brewing, Tool Shed Brewing, and Last Best Brewing & Distilling. She is currently working as a Production Manager at The Establishment Brewing Company, which has an award-winning line up of core beers and an extensive mixed culture fermentation barrel program.
Born and raised in Ontario, Britany started in the industry taking brew school after university in 2016. Her degree is in science, specifically biology, which pulled her to brewing. After brew school, it lead to just under 4 years brewing and working as a laboratory technician at Muskoka Brewery. Recently Brittany celebrated 1 year at Bellwoods Brewery in Toronto as a brewer!
Kelly began working with Yakima Chief Hops in August of 2015. She is happy to be a part of connecting our Family Farms with the world’s finest brewers. The addition of the R and D and sensory departments, these past years has been incredible. Being able to share the research that comes from our team in Yakima has been incredibly helpful to our brewing community. Kelly believes it is amazing to watch brewers build recipes on this research and reach higher and higher for beer quality!
Shanleigh has been in the alcohol beverage industry for the last 10 years. She is from Winnipeg, Canada, and has her Masters in Food Science from Purdue University. She was a formulation specialist for Diageo in Chicago before completing here Master Brewers Certificate from UC Davis. From there, she brewed and was a production manager in Seattle before moving to Minnesota and then back to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada where she worked in brewing ingredient and malt sales before starting with Yakima Chief Hops. She is currently the Regional Sales Manager for Western Canada at YCH and is on the board for Pink Boots Canada. She is really excited to be able to act as an agent of hop growers, telling their story and providing the best quality hops to breweries in Canada.
SEASON 3, EPISODE 4: PINK BOOTS COLLABORATION BREW DAY
HEATHER JERRED – TERRITORY MANAGER, COUNTRY MALT GROUP
BRE McCORMICK – PRICING SPECIALIST, COUNTRY MALT GROUP
KELSEY SCHENK – HUMAN RESOURCES BUSINESS PARTNER, COUNTRY MALT GROUP
SARAH FRIDOVICH – DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL COMMUNICATIONS AND MARKETING, UNITED MALT GROUP
ERIKA MORGAN – CHIEF PEOPLE OFFICER, UNITED MALT GROUP
JAMIE BEYER – AIR PRODUCTION SPECIALIST, MALT INNOVATION CENTER (MIC)
NATASHA PEISKAR – PRODUCTION MANAGER AND PINK BOOTS CHAPTER PRESIDENT IN CANADA, THE ESTABLISHMENT BREWING COMPANY
BRITTANY RIBALKIN – BREW DAY COORDINATOR FOR PINK BOOTS CANADA AND BREWER, BELLWOODS BREWERY
KELLY LOHRMEYER – FIELD MARKETING MANAGER, YAKIMA CHIEF HOPS
SHANLEIGH THOMSON – INDUSTRY INCLUSION CHAIR, PINK BOOTS SOCIETY OF CANADA, AND WESTERN CANADIAN REGIONAL SALES MANAGER, YAKIMA CHIEF HOPS
Key Points From This Episode:
- What’s the difference between diversity, equity, and inclusion?
- What are the best hiring practices: From gender-neutral job ads and interview processes to onboarding
- What allyship means and how to educate and communicate DEI work to employees
- How the Pink Boots Society was founded by Teri Fahrendorf to assist, inspire, encourage women
- How you always remember your first Pink Boots Collaboration Brews
- Pink Boots Brew: Biggest annual fundraisers for programming and scholarships
- How current climate impacted the industry and how to proceed and pivot
- How beer preferences and styles/blends have changed through the years
Transcript - Pink Boots Collaboration Brew Day
EPISODE S.3, E.4
[PINK BOOTS COLLABORATION BREW DAY]
[00:00:00] HJ: Welcome back to a very special episode of The BrewDeck podcast. My name is Heather Jerred, and I’m going to be your host for the month of March. Throughout the month, I’m going to be joined by some pretty amazing women in the Country Malt Group team because this is Women’s History Month, and today we’re celebrating International Women’s Day, and of course, Pink Boots Brew Day.
Last season, we did release an episode discussing the fifth rendition of the Pink Boots hot blend, so go back and give that a listen if you want to learn a little bit more about this unique and versatile hot blend. This is Season 2, Episode 22. We have a lot of stuff to cover this episode, so let’s dive right in.
Hello, and welcome back to The BrewDeck podcast. As I mentioned at the top of the show, I’m going to be joined by some amazing women this month from the Country Malt Group and our parent company, United Malt Group Team. Please welcome three of those amazing women. I have Kelsey Schenk, our Human Resources business partner; Sarah Fridovich, our Director of Global Communications and Marketing; and Erika Morgan, our Chief People Officer. Welcome.
[00:01:02] SF: Yay, thanks. We’re excited to be here.
[00:01:04] HJ: Let’s get started and talk a little bit about what our roles are within the company. Erika, did you want to start us off? I feel like you have the most fun title.
[00:01:13] EM: I am happy too and so glad to join on such an incredible topic which is near and dear to my heart. As the Chief People Officer at United Malt Group, I am responsible really for the end-to-end employee experience and everything that comes into play in between that. From the moment that they choose to start with us, through growing with us, and staying with us as well. Thank goodness to have a pretty incredible HR team to make that happen around the world. That gives you a sense of the overall scope of the role that I played with the organization.
[00:01:48] HJ: Awesome, thank you. Both you and Sarah are relatively new with the United Malt Team, so welcome.
[00:01:54] EM: We are lucky to join at such a pretty incredible time, I will say, for United Malt Group, and what we are endeavoring to do to bring a much more united way of working across our family of brands. The both of us just joined in July of last year, so I believe we’re hitting it eight or nine months.
[00:02:12] SF: Yeah, we’re getting close. There’s nothing quite like starting work on the same day as someone. It gives you that person that you are kind of sharing an experience with, which is actually pretty special.
[00:02:22] HJ: That’s wonderful. Sarah, can you tell us a little bit about what you do here with United Malt and Country Malt Group?
[00:02:30] SF: Yeah, absolutely. As Head of Communications and Marketing for United Malt, I’m really responsible for the storytelling experience and the messaging that we share with all of our key audiences. Everything from how we message internally to our amazing and passionate employees to what stories are we telling? What do our customers need to know? How are we getting more people interested in our products? Everything in between there. Frankly, it is the most fun job I think I’ve ever had.
[00:02:59] HJ: You can’t go wrong with working in the beer industry, let me tell you.
[00:03:03] SF: No, you really can’t.
[00:03:05] HJ: Kelsey, I’m going to wish you a happy anniversary of our friendship because it was three years ago, on March 8th, that I met Kelsey brewing Pink Boots Brew and that’s how I ended up with my job here at Country Malt Group. Happy anniversary of friendship, Kelsey. Do you want to tell us a little bit about what you do here at Country Malt Group and Canada Malting?
[00:03:27] KS: One of them is obviously recruiting because that’s what I did in attracting you to come work for us.
[00:03:33] HJ: She does a good job.
[00:03:35] KS: I’m the HR business partner for Canada focusing on Canada and Canada Malting, Country Malt Group in Canada, involved with recruitment, performance, labor, everything in between. I’ve been with the company for over eight years now.
[00:03:48] EM: We are so lucky.
[00:03:50] HJ: Fully agree. There are obviously some things we’ve been working on this year within the Country Malt Group and United Malt. A big part of that has been Erika and Sarah coming on board. If you want to talk a little bit about the diversity, equity, and inclusion work that we’ve kind of been doing here?
[00:04:07] SF: Yeah, absolutely. I’m really excited to do so. I think one of the things that Erika and I really noticed and heard from quite a few employees after we started was that there’s a lot of appetite for becoming a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization.
Also, it’s aligned with our company values. We know that’s where we want to go, and so we put our heads together along with a really fantastic small team of people to talk about how we would really tell the story? How do we begin to put a stake in the ground around talking to our employees? What is our commitment to becoming more diverse, equitable, and inclusive? We came up with a declaration statement, which, Erika, is that something you’d be willing to share?
[00:04:51] EM: I would love to. We did quite a bit of work on this, and if I may, just even before jumping into the statement itself, the best part actually, I will say, of joining a new organization is hearing from the experiences of many of those that are within the organization. Sarah may have mentioned having brought together a group of women who work within our industry who were absolutely willing to share their experiences. It made for such an impactful moment for me, as well as recognizing there is so much that we can do within our own organization to bring internal awareness and appreciation to what diversity, equity, and inclusion actually are.
One thing that I’ve made a commitment to the whole organization, including this working group that we’ve just kicked off, is there’s nothing more authentic and genuine than truly understanding the direction you’re heading than doing that internally. For us, our focus this year and will continue to be, I’m really making sure we’re building awareness. We started out with what we stand for. That, for me, is one of the most important places to start.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion declaration statement that we created together and this part of the working team, this will continue to go forward is that United Malt Group and its family of brands are committed to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout our entire organization. Together we strive to create an environment where all employees are safe, welcomed, and have a sense of belonging regardless of their gender, ethnicity, or other personal beliefs. By upholding our values, we encourage a culture of inclusion, collaboration, and accountability.
We’re pretty proud of this declaration. We’ve not had one as far as United Malt is concerned, and we recognize there are a lot of conversations that are currently happening in the industry. The best way to engage in that conversation is authentically and really starting out with what we stand for. This is our first entry into that conversation.
Sarah, Heather, and the team getting to a place where we’ve felt that internal declaration is exciting. We knew we wanted to launch this with International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month as well because it is a part of who we are in the declaration and commitments that we’re making to women in this particular industry.
[00:06:59] SF: I think you put that really well, Erika, and also so much of this is about meeting our employees where they are on their specific journeys. Some people are really educated and have a really great idea of what creating a more inclusive and diverse culture feels like, what it looks like, how you get there, and there are people who use the term DEI and maybe they’re not familiar with that. That’s okay.
That’s also why we are so committed to making sure our employees really understand where we’re going and are being brought along as part of this movement, if you will, versus being told and being a bystander, which again makes that so much more authentic to who we are as a company.
Erika, you mentioned United Malt Group, and I know that Heather kind of mentioned it again. Those of you who are listening—
[00:07:47] EM: It’s a collaborative one.
[00:07:51] SF: Totally. This is your communication skills speaking, and it all makes sense. If you’re not familiar with United Malt, we are a family of brands that includes Country Malt Group, Great Western Malting, Canada Malting Company, Baird’s Malting out of the UK, Brewers Select, as well as Barrett Burston Malting out of Australia, and Cryer Malt out of New Zealand.
Pretty amazing family brands to be a part of just based on global reach alone. Again, as I said during my introduction, also just because of the incredible passion of our people.
[00:08:21] EM: It’s something that Heather and I in our working group have talked about as well. It feels incredibly humbled to come at this content from a place of curiosity and learning and of wanting to know better so that we can do better. That is something that you won’t hear from us coming out declaring that we’re experts in this work. In fact, we want to partner with the industry, with folks that Heather has already partnered up with, to truly go on a journey together so that it is as authentic and genuine to us and on-brand to who we are.
You hit on a couple of points. In fact, I’ve recently had folks ask me the difference between diversity, equity, and inclusion. I think it’s even worth just simplifying that when we’re talking about diversity, it’s all the unique ways in which we show up differently and that we differ, whether that’s the physical attributes or the varied individual perspectives and backgrounds that we come from, so it’s not just what you see in here. That’s the richness and the true differences that we can bring, and what we mean by diversity.
When we’re thinking about equity, it’s our entire shared commitment to creating access and opportunity for advancement for all in a way that meets them where they are, recognizing that everybody has the same access as well. This includes efforts to identify and remove barriers, unconscious bias, all of those types of things as well.
Then inclusion, our individual and collective action to create an environment of belonging where we’ve got people who feel like they can be their full selves, show up 100% authentically then at work, and where members of our group are welcomed, respected, and supported as well. It goes to show there’s a ton to still do in this industry with regards to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and we hope to be a part of educating internally and then be a part of the conversation externally.
[00:10:00] HJ: Absolutely. I just really want to say thank you to Erika and Sarah. Obviously, this was something we wanted to do, but we had no idea where to start. We’ve been incredibly lucky to have both of you on the team that immediately was like, yup, we can do this, and we can help guide you in the direction on how to do this. It’s been a really, really cool learning experience for myself, and I think for the whole diversity, equity, and inclusion committee team. It’s been great.
Thank you for sharing the declaration. I’m super excited that we’re sharing it out there now and just discussing some of the internal work that we are doing within the company. It’s fantastic and so important for a day like today. Thank you so much.
I want to throw it over to Kelsey a little bit here because Kelsey has also been doing a lot of work with best hiring practices for us. This is something that I didn’t even know Kelsey had been working on until it was revealed about a year after she started it. She has been really just knee-deep in working with best hiring practices. Kelsey, can you tell us a little bit about what you’ve learned, how you’ve researched it, and how we’re working to change some of our hiring practices or make it better?
[00:11:11] KS: Yeah, of course. I guess it was about a year and a half ago. We wanted to take a look at our whole diversity inclusion strategy and started to really dive into that work and quickly realize that we needed to start with recruitment, first and foremost. We took a deep dive into that, looked at best-in-class practices, looked at what other organizations were doing, and then really looked at our own internal practices and policies.
From there, we’ve made a number of different changes. One of the interesting ones is that we actually run all of our job advertisement material through an online gender decoder. We put our advertisement material through that, it recognizes words that could potentially be seen as masculine or feminine, and then we replace them with gender-neutral alternatives. This way, we’re not inadvertently recruiting a specific gender.
From there, we really look at working with the hiring teams, working with the hiring manager on creating an inclusive process, which includes standard interview guide, coaching, mentoring them on how to interview best in class practices on interviewing, trying to put forward a diverse candidate pool to our hiring managers, so ultimately, they can make the best decision on who the best candidate is and bring them into the business.
From there, we’ve even revamped our onboarding process to really ensure that that’s a fantastic experience right from the start, looking at our career sites across the board, as well. A lot of exciting changes that we’ve implemented, continue to refocus, look back, and make tweaks when we need to. As we move forward, we’re going to be focusing on creating inclusion, which is focused on education and awareness throughout the organization, as we continue to work on our recruitment efforts as well.
[00:13:03] HJ: That’s amazing, Kelsey. Thank you so much for all of the work that you have done. That is such a brief description of what Kelsey has been working on for the past year and a half. It’s honestly just amazing. You said it was a gender decoder? Is that something that’s just available online?
[00:13:23] KS: Yeah, I use a specific website, but I think there’s a number of different tools out there that people can use just through general Google search. Then it’s really doing the research on what those gender-neutral alternative words could be. We kind of have a bank that we use to just have some consistency around what that looks like. That’s available online to anybody.
[00:13:43] HJ: That’s awesome. I think that that’s something that all of us probably don’t even really realize that the tone of even a written job description can have masculine overtones and undertones, feminine overtones and undertones. I think that’s just absolutely fantastic. You’ve just done some absolutely amazing work. We’re very, very lucky to have such an amazing team of women within this company and a lot of people within this company that does take this very seriously; it’s fantastic. Is there anything else anybody wants to add?
[00:14:16] SF: I will just say, Heather, to that point, Erika has done a really good job. What’s incredibly interesting, and I think exciting about the United Malt leadership team is that it’s comprised of seven people, four are men, three are women, which makes me feel very proud and very representative at the top level. Also, one of the things when we started the conversation around how do we begin to communicate DEI work to our employees and how do we help people understand what allyship means.
Erika did a really good job of jumping in and saying, you know what, I am going to make sure that we have allies on our executive leadership team who are men who understand the importance of this work, who will help us drive it forward, who will help share those messages, and who will help bring it to life. I think the fact that there was no hesitation on their part really says a lot about just the integrity of the people that we are working with in the direction that we’re heading. I wanted to make sure that that was known.
[00:15:17] HJ: One hundred percent, I absolutely agree. Thank you for bringing that up there. We are very, very lucky with our leadership team and in having those allies within the team and wanting to be those allies and speaking out to those allies. It’s pretty fantastic. Awesome.
[00:15:31] EM: We’ll continue on that education, for sure, and people then will be a part of that for us so that we can bring that allyship to life in a very authentic way into all of our family brands.
[00:15:42] HJ: Absolutely. Well, thank you so much, ladies, for joining me today and just sharing this really important message, especially on International Women’s Day. Stay tuned, we’ve got some really great guests coming up.
As we mentioned before, it is International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. We’re going to be doing a lot of talking about the Pink Boots Society, and it includes collaboration brew day. It’s very important that when we do this, we have to recognize our very own Teri Fahrendorf. Teri is actually the founder of the Pink Boots Society. She founded it back in 2007 after an epic journey of visiting 71 breweries across the United States and brewing in more than half of them.
The goal of the Pink Boots Society is to assist, inspire, and encourage women in the fermented alcohol beverage profession through education. We’re going to touch on this a little bit more later in the episode on the scholarships and educational opportunities that the Pink Boots Society does offer to its members.
We wanted to really recognize Teri because Teri actually has retired this month from CMG. She’s worked for us for the last 13 years, six of which she spent as the first Malt Innovation Center Manager at Great Western Malting Company. Today, we have the absolute privilege of sitting down with Jamie Beyer, who works closely alongside Teri in the Malt Innovation Center. Jamie is an Air Production Specialist down in Vancouver, Washington. Welcome, Jamie.
[00:17:09] JB: Hi, I’m so happy to be here today.
[00:17:11] HJ: I’m so happy to have you. We just want to start off with what is the Malt Innovation Center? I don’t know if everybody actually knows that we have one and what we do there.
[00:17:21] JB: The Malt Innovation Center is often referred to as the MIC, and it’s our pilot malting, pilot brewing facility, here in Vancouver. It’s on the plant site, so it’s right next to the real production facility. This is where a lot of experimental malts come out. Every year we have a new crop, and so we kind of get our first stab at that so we can provide products with valuable information going into the new crop season and a lot of other interesting stuff. We do collab brews with local breweries. It’s a really great place for innovation to happen.
[00:17:57] HJ: That’s awesome. How long have you been with the MIC?
[00:18:01] JB: I was in the MIC for two years. I’m now a production specialist. I’m more with the production group, but I was in the MIC working with Teri for two years.
[00:18:10] HJ: How did that happen? How did you get there?
[00:18:13] JB: I started in the quality lab, and Teri invited me as soon as I started to come to the first collaboration Pink Boots Brew day that MIC was hosting, and so I went not really knowing what to expect. I had heard of the Pink Boots Society. I did not know that Teri was the founder. That was kind of mind-blowing. When I got there, I was like, oh, this is very cool. As soon as there was a job opening, I went for it.
[00:18:43] HJ: Nice. That’s awesome. Did you meet Teri working for Great Western?
[00:18:48] JB: Yeah, that’s right. I met her working here. I had heard of Pink Boots. I knew that was a good place to get brewing boots.
[00:18:56] HJ: It’s a good place to get brewing boots. Do you remember what beer you made that year?
[00:19:01] JB: Yeah, I think it might have been glitter bomb. I think glitter beers were in that year, and we were aiming to make a pink beer featuring some red malts and maybe brew malt; I think it was glitter bomb. We were going to add glitter in the keg.
[00:19:18] HJ: That’s fun. I definitely had some glitter beers before. I feel like I will always remember my very first Pink Boots brew. It was such a cool opportunity when I got asked to do it, when I got invited to do it, and it’s just always like that. That whole day just sticks in my mind as such a great memory, one of those core memories, as they say.
[00:19:41] JB: Yes, I agree.
[00:19:43] HJ: What was your first impression of Teri when you met her?
[00:19:45] JB: Teri is high energy. I think that’s my first impression. She’s really just like, let’s go and get it. Don’t even spend a second being scared that you might not pull it off. Just go for it, and usually, it works out.
[00:20:01] HJ: That’s amazing. That’s a good person to have on your side moving forward. What do you think is the biggest thing you’ve kind of learned from working with her?
[00:20:12] JB: I would say that because it’s gutsiness, I think. It’s just like no fear, don’t second guess yourself. There’s a lot of preparation, like she’s very prepared. Sure, be prepared, but just don’t let yourself hold yourself back; there’s no reason to.
[00:20:31] HJ: She doesn’t entirely second guess herself when she’s working on stuff.
[00:20:36] JB: She doesn’t second guess you either. When you’re working with her, she’s your mentor; she is really just completely confident that as high as you want to go, you can get there.
[00:20:48] HJ: That’s amazing. That’s definitely probably helped you a lot moving forward.
[00:20:52] JB: Definitely, it has. Sure.
[00:20:54] HJ: Any funny Teri anecdotes you want to share with us?
[00:20:58] JB: We talked about the Pink Boots collaboration brews, and she does this big event where she’s bringing people together. She does it day-to-day. In our office, when we used to have the cubicles and people were actually in the office, she would host tea parties, just brew a pot of loose leaf green tea at her desk, and everybody would come by and fill up their little teacup.
Every time we had a new member in the pod, somebody new started, she would have a collection of teacups that she would buy at thrift stores to hand out to make sure everyone was included, getting a teacup and joining the tea party, which was always such a fun break during the week when we did it.
[00:21:38] HJ: Oh, wow. That’s like some amazing team building right there.
[00:21:42] JB: Yeah, and just spontaneous on her part, not anything official.
[00:21:48] HJ: What do you think you’re going to miss most now that she’s not around? Is it the tea parties, or do you think those will continue now that she’s gone?
[00:21:56] JB: These tea parties are a little hard these days. Hopefully, we can get back to normalcy so we can have a tea party and not have to have a virtual tea party. That’s just not quite as fun. As I told her the other day, it’s the energy I think she just comes in with energy, and it’s contagious.
[00:22:18] HJ: Yeah, I love that. I haven’t got the honor of getting to meet Teri yet. Even though I know she’s just moving on from CMG; I hope in the future that our paths cross because I’ve just heard nothing but amazing things about her. She’s done so much for women in this industry. Any final words you want to say to Teri as we move along?
[00:22:41] JB: Teri, if you’re listening, I think I appreciate what you’ve done for me. I’m sure there are so many women that do also because I will say one thing I’ve noticed is that if there’s any opportunity for you to say out loud the strengths of someone else, you do it. That’s so nice for you to brag about the other people that you’re supporting because sometimes it’s hard, especially for women, to brag about themselves. You’re very uplifting, supportive, and I appreciate it. I’m sure lots of other people do too.
[00:23:15] HJ: Oh, that’s wonderful. That made me a little teary. I’m not going to lie. I just think that the Pink Boots Society has done so much for women in the industry. I literally found my job with Country Malt Group meeting people brewing at a Pink Boots Brew, and I just think of just how much that’s moved me forward in my career. Thank you so much, Teri, for all you’ve done to support the women’s industry. You’re going to be greatly missed at Country Malt Group, and thank you so much, Jamie, for taking the time to come and chat with us today and telling us a little bit more about working with Teri.
[00:23:52] JB: Yeah, it was fun. Thank you.
[00:23:53] HJ: I want to welcome my co-host for the remainder of the show, Bre McCormick. Bre is a pricing specialist with Country Malt Group. Thank you for joining and helping me out today, Bre.
[00:24:03] BM: Grateful to be here. Thanks, Heather.
[00:24:06] HJ: I want to welcome our very special guests we’re very excited to have. We have Natasha Peiskar, who’s the production manager at The Establishment Brewing Company in Calgary, Alberta. Natasha is also the Pink Boots Chapter President of in Canada as well, and Brittany Ribalkin, did I do it right?
[00:24:25] BR: That was so perfect.
[00:24:28] HJ: The brew day coordinator for Pink Boots Canada as well as a brewer at Bellwoods Brewery in Toronto, Ontario. Welcome, Brittany and Natasha, thank you for joining us today.
[00:24:37] BR: Thanks for having me.
[00:24:39] NP: Thanks so much for having us.
[00:24:41] HJ: Well, let’s start with you, Brittany. Do you want to give us a little rundown on who you are, how you got into brewing, and how you ended up where you are in the Pink Boots Society?
[00:24:52] BR: Yeah, for sure. I started by thinking I was going to get into genetics when I was in university because I have a brother with down syndrome. I was very interested in becoming a genetic counselor and helping out parents. I didn’t really think about this first year when I was partying.
[00:25:11] HJ: That happens to the best of us.
[00:25:16] BR: When I got to fourth year, I was like, oh, what am I going to do? I took the summer, and then I applied into the brewing program at Niagara College. I got in not far after I applied. From there, I won a couple awards while there, and I got a job at Muskoka Brewery, where I was there for just under four years.
Then I, as of today, have been at Bellwoods for a year as a brewer. It’s been amazing. It’s been absolutely fantastic. It’s gone from a really big brewery life, and now I’m getting into the smaller things, which is exactly what I wanted to do more of the craft side of things.
[00:25:58] HJ: What led you to Pink Boots Society? What I guess intrigued you of that matter or made you interested in that?
[00:26:05] BR: Honestly, I had no idea that there was anything available out there. This was about 2018. Somebody posted online that they were starting a group for Toronto for Pink Boots Society. I was like, what is Pink Boots Society? My partner knew about it. For some reason, I didn’t know about it.
I started researching, and then I was like, oh, I can’t even make the first meeting because we’re so far from Toronto right now. Then they said they were going to post some positions to start getting this going, so I sent in my resume. Immediately, I got one back saying, yeah, you’re a perfect fit to help out with brew day coordination. This is before any of us had any idea what we were doing. From there, I just got so far into it.
A couple of years ago, Natasha and I both got scholarships for the Pink Boots Society that we have yet to actually be able to do.
[00:27:06] HJ: Is that the […] one?
[00:27:08] BR: Yeah.
[00:27:10] HJ: That’s awesome.
[00:27:11] BR: I know. We’ve been waiting years and years, and it’s just like, just let it go. Just please, get on a plane. Yeah, just let us go do this thing. I got so inspired by all these women that I get to go with. You get to read each one of these women and the different departments that they’re from. It’s the neatest thing being able to connect with people from all over the world where there’s so much more out there that I don’t know about. That’s probably the gist of it for me.
[00:27:46] HJ: Can you tell us a little bit about what the brew day coordinator does?
[00:27:51] BR: Yeah. What we’ve realized and even this is an issue not just with our chapter, but a lot of chapters that when you need people to sign up for the brew day and get an organized coordinator, there are always problems with getting things organized. I think that’s with anything at this point.
My job basically is to help people sign up for brews, going through the hop blends with people. I also helped coordinate. They send out hop blends, so all chapters had a chance to have a hand in it. It’s kind of fun where we chose people from all over Canada to do that this year and giving different areas an opportunity to help choose the hop blend that we chose this year.
I also am able to organize examples on what to do for your brew days. I help set up what breweries might need for their brew days, what hashtags they want to post, and safe, educational ideas for their days. I help answer any questions that anybody might have if they have any issues when they’re trying to sign up or get the hop blend, which seems to be more of an issue sometimes.
[00:29:09] HJ: A lot on your plate.
[00:29:12] BR: Yeah, sorry. I’m all over the place, but I kind of dip my hand into a lot of different things, and then Natasha just makes sure it gets done.
[00:29:21] BM: What goes into the selection of what you actually want to brew?
[00:29:28] BR: After you know what the hop blend is?
[00:29:31] BM: Yeah, what style of beer? What goes into that kind of brain think where everybody gets together and decides what is going to be brewed for the day?
[00:29:44] BR: It can be dependent on the brewery on what’s going to be brewed. You try to take your hop blend and see what aspects of it you like out of it. There’s also an email you can get, which is [email protected], and say you’re looking to do a specific style with that blend. They’ll help you and walk you through the process on how to achieve that brew style if you’re looking for something that works well for your brewery.
Let’s say you’re a brewery that just does not do IPAs. You only do lagers and saisons or something. You just email them, give them an idea of what you’re looking for, and they can help you out, which is something that I don’t think is utilized enough.
[00:30:33] BM: Yeah, I didn’t know that existed. That’s really great.
[00:30:37] BR: For example, in our brewery, we absolutely did not want to do an IPA because the style does lend itself well for something like that. We wanted something different, so we are going with dry hops lagered ale, like a Kolsch style. We’re hoping to just dry-hop it very lightly, but keeping it around 5% alcohol so we can drink a bunch of it.
[00:31:01] HJ: It’s always a good plan. Natasha, do you want to introduce yourself a little bit? Tell us how you got to where you are.
[00:31:11] NP: Hello, yes. My name is Natasha, and I have been in the craft beer industry for almost a decade now, which is kind of crazy to think back about all of the different roles I’ve had. Similar to Brittany, I went to school for a chemistry degree. I was doing pre-veterinary courses in biology and chemistry, essentially, to get into veterinary school. I had thought that clubs look really good on vet school applications and got involved in a homebrewing club at university that ended up being more of a craft beer drinking club.
[00:31:50] BM: Weird how that happens.
[00:31:55] NP: A sample of what we might be making, I guess, was the thought process there. I got involved in Vancouver’s craft beer scene that would have been, I guess, 2012, 2013 when things were really starting to explode there, which was exciting. I got to know a bunch of folks in the industry, and Hops Connect challenged us to a university brew-off against UBC. I was going to SFU at the time.
We ended up going in complete underdogs because we didn’t know how to brew, but we learned. We won the competition. One of my best friends and I’s beer won best in show. That was really exciting. We got to scale up our beer at […] brewers and distillers at the time and do a launch party. I just really love the community that craft beer was giving me.
Then I moved over to Calgary and couldn’t find a job in oil and gas or utilizing any of my chemistry skills, so I ended up working for a restaurant group that had 72 craft beers on tap. Since then, I’ve held various positions in the industry. I’ve worked at a homebrew shop, I’ve worked at, obviously, National Beer Hall. I became their brand manager. I did a lot of beer education and helped out on all four of their locations with their tapless and their beer events.
I was a very terrible salesperson for a year. I say terrible because I love to talk about beer, but I’m not very good at closing the sale. I took the jump into production brewing in spring of 2017. That was almost five years ago now, and I haven’t looked back. That’s been a lot of fun being on the back of the house creation side.
[00:34:00] HJ: It’s awesome. Should also be noted that the establishment brewing where Natasha is brewing was named Brewery of the Year in Canada last year at the Canadian Brewing Awards, so congratulations for that.
[00:34:12] NP: Thank you. Yeah, it was really, really exciting. It’s funny because we won in September because with COVID, everything had to be put off through the year. We’re hosting the next Canadian Brewing Conference here in Calgary in May, so we only got to hold the title for like six months. But yeah, 2021 Canadian Brewery of the Year and as well as Alberta Brewery of the Year. It was a very exciting year last year.
[00:34:40] HJ: I guess we’ll just have to see if you can do it again in 2022.
[00:34:43] NP: Fingers crossed.
[00:34:46] HJ: Just stick to the reigning champs.
[00:34:48] NP: That would be absolutely incredible. I don’t think I’ve heard of anybody doing that. But yeah, we have a few bangers that we sent in for judging, so best of luck to us.
[00:35:00] BR: No pressure, though, no pressure.
[00:35:02] BM: No pressure, whatsoever.
[00:35:03] NP: So much pressure. Oh, my goodness.
[00:35:06] BM: It’s actually, that hometown pressure; I think that’s a big one.
[00:35:10] NP: Definitely, when you’re hosting. It’s always fun to just close down the brewery for a couple of days and go hang out in different cities and industry in their beer culture. But when we’re hosting, it’s a little bit more pressure to be a good host. It should be a lot of fun in May.
[00:35:33] HJ: I’m looking forward to it, for sure. You are also, as I mentioned, the president of the Canadian chapter of the Pink Boots Society and one of the founding members of this chapter. Can you walk us through the process of getting the chapter in Canada fully set up as its own entity?
[00:35:50] NP: Yeah, absolutely. It was actually a very long process and one in which I learned a lot about taking something regionally and consolidating it nationally, especially with Canada being as big as it is. Essentially, we were approached by Pink Boots in the United States to basically form an international chapter. There had been various chapters in different markets on and off throughout the years, but we decided that it would be best to organize nationally and consolidate any of those regional chapters under the new Canada chapter.
This was in, probably, early 2020. We spent the majority of 2020 planning over everything you need to register with the Canadian Not-for-profit Act and make sure we had our bylaws, our codes of conduct, all of that stuff in a row before going public-facing. In early 2021, we became basically public or member-facing, formed our first board, and obviously got flung into everything that 2021 brought us, including the Me Too movement in the brewing industry.
It’s been really exciting. We have representatives pretty much coast to coast, and we welcome our first-ever members from, for example, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, and out there in Manitoba. It’s been really exciting to see that just having the visibility of a Canada chapter has really kind of excited women and non-binary folks to get involved with us.
[00:37:35] HJ: Can you just speak a little bit about what the Pink Boots Society does? Obviously, we all know we’re doing the Pink Boots Brew. It’s a big thing. We supply the Pink Boots Blend hops. What does that money go to?
[00:37:47] NP: Absolutely, yeah. Obviously, Pink Boots Brew, that’s one of our biggest events and biggest annual fundraisers. The whole idea of Pink Boots is to basically provide educational and networking opportunities for women and non-binary folks in the fermented beverage or fermented alcohol beverage industries. We’ve recently expanded to include folks who aren’t just in beer but are, for example, in cideries, wineries, distilleries, et cetera.
With the funds that we’re raising this year, specifically for the Canada chapter, we have two different avenues that we’re going to be utilizing the funds for. One is to provide programming, free of charge, to the industry and our members on human resources, safe spaces, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Then the second avenue that we’re looking at is we’re funding ten scholarships this year, and those will be specific to our Canadian members, which means that they’re really only competing against other Canadian members, not necessarily all of the Pink Boots Society members worldwide. We’re really excited to do that because those ones will be exclusive to our Canadian members, and they’ll have a greater chance of getting some of the education funded through us here.
[00:39:13] HJ: That’s definitely a benefit of having those regional chapters kind of all to your own to be able to have those scholarships that are regionally specific as well, which I think is just great.
[00:39:23] NP: Exactly, yeah. We can keep that impact local. Like Brittany said earlier, one of the reasons she joined and one of the reasons I joined was access to those scholarships. We’ve come to know each other because we won that same scholarship that we’ve been waiting on for a few years now to go to Amsterdam and Belgium and learn about brewing and distilling over there. It’s not only about the education that you receive, but also about the opportunity to meet other folks in your industry and be able to network with them regionally.
[00:40:03] HJ: Absolutely. Thank you both for speaking in-depth about the Pink Boots Society with us. Before we wrap this up, let’s talk beer. Let’s do everybody’s favorite topic because I know Natasha has brewed her Pink Boots Brew already, Natasha and her team, and I know Britt is going to be brewing here. Britt, why don’t you tell us what you’re going to be brewing next week?
[00:40:25] BR: Me along with our other female brewers, because there are other female brewers for once at a brewery that I’m at, are going to brew dry-hopped Kolsch, but we’re going to call it a dry-hopped lagered ale just so we’re very accurate since we aren’t in Kolsch in Cologne. We are going to lightly dry-hop it, so we get some of the nice citrus and floral notes that a lot of these hops have.
The thing about the blend that they’ve created is that it lends pretty well to the […] and citrus. It’ll have a bit of that woody side to it. We’re hoping we can just have it come through enough that our customers notice it, but we really want to be able to lager it enough that you get a good flavor profile from the malts that we have decided to use. We’re obviously going to keep that alcohol low because we want to drink a bunch of low.
[00:41:23] HJ: Good crusher, patio crusher.
[00:41:26] BR: Yeah. I always feel weird saying it because I don’t want anybody to think I want them to drink a lot, but yeah, patio crusher.
[00:41:36] HJ: I also don’t want people to drink a ton, but I think it’d be nice.
[00:41:41] BR: Yeah, drink appropriately.
[00:41:44] HJ: Drink responsibly. Simply.
[00:41:46] NP: I think it’s great. I think more and more folks are thinking about mindful drinking. I think it’s awesome when you have something that’s a little bit lower in alcohol, and you’re able to have a few more perhaps than just one or two double IPAs.
[00:42:04] HJ: I couldn’t agree more. I think we’re coming out of Imperial Stout season, and for so long, I just want the stout. Why is everything 9%?
[00:42:13] NP: I know.
[00:42:14] HJ: Nine percent beers.
[00:42:16] BR: Or the pastry stout, and you’re drinking syrup.
[00:42:19] HJ: Delicious.
[00:42:23] NP: There’s no judgment here.
[00:42:25] HJ: Because I really like a good pastry stout.
[00:42:28] BR: But sometimes you’re like, I just want something that’s not super quick.
[00:42:34] HJ: I do. Maybe I just want a nice easy drinking nitro stout that’s like 4% because that’s traditionally supposed to be, apparently. I’m asking for the world, and I want to be able to buy a four-pack and drink them all also.
[00:42:41] BR: That’s too much to ask for.
[00:42:43] HJ: […] traditionally Dammit. Natasha, do you want to tell us a bit about the beer? This is actually really cool. I’ve been following along on social media as you move along the process of the Pink Boots Brew. Do you want to tell us a little bit about it?
[00:43:08] NP: Yeah, I’m really excited about what we put together this year. At the establishment, we have a really incredible barrel-fermented wild ale program. What that means is we’ve got, I think, over 88 barrels right now. They’re neutral, used red wine oak barrels, so there’s not a lot that gets imparted from the woods. But it becomes a perfect home for the mixed culture that we use to ferment this particular type of beer.
We have wort that has been in those barrels from anywhere from a few months to two and a half years. We got the women of the establishment together, and we had narrowed down what we wanted to do. It was a golden sour base, and we were going to dry-hop it with the Pink Boots Hop Blend. We narrowed down our inventory to about seven or eight barrels that we thought might make a great blend and went through and tasted them individually. We narrowed it down to, I think, four and then started to do some blend work based on those four barrels.
We came up with a great plan. I’m really excited. It’s starting to show notes of rocket candy, a little bit of aged hop character, which some people describe as a black tea-like character. It has a really nice, soft lactic acidity, not punch-you-in-your-face, take-the-enamel-off-your-teeth, just a nice, soft acidity there. It’s provided a great base to put the Pink Boots Hop Blend on where we’re just extracting aroma and flavor from that hop blend to boost what you’re drinking.
That’s been in tote since January, and we’re getting ready to bottle it this Friday. Then it’ll be in bottle condition for at least four to six weeks. We’ll be releasing that hopefully in April or May, depending on how the beer comes along in bottles.
[00:45:17] BR: So you’re going to bring it to Belgium, right?
[00:45:20] NP: Absolutely.
[00:45:22] HJ: It was like, so you’re going to have some stashed for me when I get there, right?
[00:45:27] NP: Yeah, we’re supposed to leave for Belgium in mid-May. We are hoping to do a little bit of a jaunt around Europe beforehand. There are a few of us who have come to know each other quite well through social media. At this time, we’ve been waiting for our scholarship to come to fruition. We’re excited to see each other over there and have some beers.
[00:45:48] HJ: I have jealousy issues, but I’m super, super happy for you. It’s finally coming to fruition for you to get to go. I think it’s such a cool opportunity. Any other plugs you want to do for the breweries, for the Pink Boots? Anything else you want to leave the people with?
[00:46:04] NP: Yeah, I think just keep an eye on social media. We are @pinkbootscanada on almost all platforms. We’ve been boosting a lot of the brewers. Some of them are happening ahead of International Women’s Day, which is Tuesday, March, or is that Monday, March 8th? Some folks are brewing on that day.
When they’re looking to find these Pink Boots brews, we’ll be boosting them through our social media. A lot of provinces are having a tap takeover at some locations, so we’ll be putting those up on our events calendar as well, and you can see where to go grab Pink Boots Collaboration Brew.
[00:46:48] HJ: Will we be able to get our hands on anywhere outside of Toronto, or is that going to be taproom exclusive?
[00:46:55] BR: You’re asking a great question. We recently did a bit of a takeover in Alberta. I think once the people ask for it, then we just give it to them. Hopefully, if people are like, hey, can you bring that Pink Boots Brew outside of Ontario?
[00:47:15] HJ: Send it our way.
[00:47:16] BR: Yeah, exactly. We’re pretty good about that kind of stuff. As long as they have stuff lined up to send out to another province for a tap takeover kind of thing and the logistics are taken care of; obviously, they’re pretty good about that kind of thing. I hope that we can because it sucks when you can’t share it with the rest of the women around Canada.
[00:47:36] HJ: It’s true. I know, I think that you’re going to be looking for them.
[00:47:41] BR: Exactly. I want to reiterate the email [email protected] for anybody that wants some crazy idea they need help with for a brew that’s not an IPA because I really challenge women. We’re using this blend to try something different. Try a style you’ve never done before with a hop blend that might not work for it but could.
[00:48:10] HJ: It would be really cool. It’s the fun thing about brewing. Lots of experimentation there. Thank you all so much for joining me. I really appreciate it. I really appreciate you taking time out of your day for us. Again, happy International Women’s Day as we are releasing this on International Women’s Day. Thanks again.
[00:48:28] NP: Thanks so much for having us.
[00:48:31] BR: Thank you.
[00:48:32] HJ: I now have the absolute pleasure of welcoming Kelly Lohrmeyer from Yakima Chief Hops. Kelly is the Field Marketing Manager for YCH, and Shanleigh Thomson, the Western Canadian Regional Sales Manager for Yakima Chief Hops, as well. Welcome to the podcast.
[00:48:50] ST: Thank you.
[00:48:51] KL: Hello.
[00:48:52] HJ: Let’s start off with Kelly. Do you want to tell me a little bit about yourself, a little bit about your role with Yakima Chief, a little bit about your experience with Pink Boots?
[00:49:00] KL: Sure, I’d love to. I have been fortunate enough to work with Yakima Chief Hops for a little over six years. I will be in my seventh year this August. It’s been a wild ride. I started out, I remember, it was Yakima Chief and Hopunion merging. I got to see that whole thing come together, which is a pretty exciting time for the company. Lots of big changes went on just to add to our production facilities and really get the farmers that we work with more grounded in the craft beer community.
Yakima Chief was owned by a lot of the hop farmers that we are in partnership with our hop growing today. To be able to pull the Hopunion piece in the Yakima Chief, it was really huge because they were more a player in the craft beer industry and really had that solid. We wanted to be able to serve people better. In order to do that, we needed to combine the companies to make sure we have the facilities to produce those hops.
I’ve seen a lot of changes at the company. But moving on through, it’s been a good partnership with Yakima Chief and Hopunion. Now we’re just Yakima Chief Hops. It’s been exciting to see the growth in the industry, especially with hazy beers. I work in the California market, so I work with a lot of brewers that were West Coast to the end.
Some of them were like, we’ll never make hazy beers, and then seeing some of these really talented brewers start to make some hazy beers has been really exciting for me. I was in sales and helped with contracts and things like that. Now I have moved over to a Field Market Manager, which I feel is more of a culture-building type of a job.
I get to work with a lot more of the sales reps; I get to travel to many events and try to help them set up and be our best and still stay connected with people in the Pink Boots Society and people in guilds across the US. I’m going to get to work with Team Europe this year. I’m actually traveling to Europe for a month starting March 14th to work with that team.
[00:50:51] HJ: No big deal.
[00:50:53] KL: No big deal. Whatever they told me, we wanted to go to Europe, I was like, […] different parts of the brewing industry. It’s a really exciting and fun place to be.
[00:51:04] HJ: Yeah, I think it’s great and something that I really learned when I started with Country Malt Group. Of course, we’re really close partners with Yakima Chief Hops as well. You’re close, so you have a partnership with your producers, which I think is just fantastic.
[00:51:18] KL: Yeah, it’s the main reason I work for this company. I always wanted to work with growers, and somehow I managed to find the perfect scenario—beer and work, so it’s really fun.
[00:51:29] HJ: You can’t go wrong.
[00:51:30] KL: No.
[00:51:31] HJ: Shanleigh, do you want to just tell us a little bit about your journey to the industry?
[00:51:37] ST: Sure, yeah. I’ve been with Yakima Chief Hops for about seven months now. I’m fairly new to this company but not new to the brewing and alcohol industry in general. I started off my journey, I guess, in alcohol sciences at the University of Manitoba. I’m from Winnipeg. Then I went to Purdue to do a little bit more studying.
From there, I ended up at Diageo in Chicago working on the Smirnoff Ice, Smirnoff Captain Morgan team making products for them. But then after that, I went to UC Davis to study brewing, and then up to Seattle, where I brewed for a few years before getting into the sales side of things. It’s really exciting to be part of Yakima Chief since this is such a different model of a company like what Kelly was saying.
I think since coming from Winnipeg and coming from a more agricultural background, I’ve been very intimately with farmers from my region all the way during that period and then coming to a company where we are owned by family farms. We work intimately with our family farmers to produce and bring the best hops suited for brewers. It’s really exciting. I’ve been all over the industry on multiple different sides of it, but yeah, happy to be where I am now.
[00:53:02] HJ: I think that’s fantastic. We talked to Brittany and Natasha earlier. Both of them also have science backgrounds. Both of them went to university for science. It’s definitely a trend there.
[00:53:13] ST: Yeah. I love knowing the technical side of things, but I think I like talking about it more. I’m actually in the lab doing the science, so it’s definitely where I want to be.
[00:53:27] HJ: I also like talking about beers. I feel you. Shanleigh, you’re also the industry inclusion chair for the Pink Boots Society of Canada. Do you want to talk a little bit about what that entails and what your role is there?
[00:53:42] ST: Sure, yeah. Pink Boots Canada, and I’m sure Natasha and Brittany already spoke to this, is fairly new as far as a chapter goes within the Pink Boots Society. In that, I’m fairly new to my role as well. About six months into my role as industry inclusion chair, we’re a very small team. As of right now, we’re hoping to expand to gain a few more members for our committee.
Essentially, what we’re trying to achieve as goal number one is to expand Pink Boots Canada and opportunities within Pink Boots Canada to those who are not necessarily directly related to the brewing or beer side of Pink Boots. Essentially, this year, Pink Boots Society has changed and shifted what they want to be targeting as far as their membership to include those who are in all fermented beverage industries, so cideries, wineries, breweries, distilleries, kombucharies even. I’m not sure if seltzeries are a thing now or whether or not they will be.
Essentially, my committee and I, our goal number one is really to reach out and expand our membership base and scholarship opportunities to those who are part of the fermented beverage industry, not just beer and brewing. That’s goal number one. And then goal number two, of course, and something that I think the industry is working through, and we might actually bring in more help with this definitely, is obviously the other side of inclusion and diversity.
Kind of twofold, but job number one is the entire fermented beverage industry. Job number two is obviously diversity and inclusion. I think that’s a goal as a whole organization, not just my committee as well. I think that’s more of a team effort but definitely, something that’s on the top of the mind for myself included.
[00:55:33] HJ: Yeah. I think that that’s something that people don’t actually know that the Pink Boots is not just targeting brewers and breweries. They’re targeting women throughout the entire fermented industry, so lots of room.
[00:55:50] ST: Yeah, and I think that’s just it. There’s not a lot of overlap with necessarily some of the products that are involved in brewing, in beer, and fermentation, but everything starts with water and yeast, for sure. There is some overlap for sure. Even if we’re not using grain, apples, wine, or grapes, but we are seeing some overlap in some aspects. Especially with the increase in research and files, you’re seeing wine and beer come together. You’re seeing hops go into cider.
I think there traditionally wasn’t a lot of overlap, and now we’re seeing a lot more play in the industry. I think it is exciting to see organizations like Pink Boots opening up to all of the fermented beverage industries, not just sticking with beer and breweries.
[00:56:46] HJ: Yeah, for sure. Can either one of you speak a little bit to how Yakima Chief got involved with doing the Pink Boots Blend and working closely with the Pink Boots Society?
[00:56:57] KL: I can take that one. It was pretty exciting the way we got involved. Whenever I got hired for Yakima Chief, I moved out to San Diego blindly. I didn’t know anyone. I just got this cool job, and I was like, I’m going to move to California. I lived in St. Louis, Missouri, at the time. It’s quite an upgrade, but moving out, and I didn’t know anyone.
I joined the Pink Boots Society in order to try to meet some friends in the industry and just start to make some new friends. Through that, I met Laura Ullrich. Actually, the night that sealed Laura and my friendship was a women’s dinner during San Diego Beer Week that this woman put on, and I’m forgetting her name right now because that’s the way it rolls.
It was all women, and I went to it solo. I was like, well, it’s going to be all women, I’m going to be able to at least won’t be a part of just all the couples table. There I met Laura and really began talking to her that night and just learning more about her and her story and really just thinking she was an interesting person.
Fast forward in Harvest 2017 at […] fields with our CEO at the time. He was just like, how can we get more involved and help more women get into the industry? I was like, well, I met this girl named Laurel Ullrich, and she’s the president of Pink Boots Society, she’s really cool, and I think that would be a great conduit for us to work with them on something that would be positive going forward as like a fundraiser.
I called Laura, told her, and she was very interested. Basically that year, I just brought raw hops straight from harvest directly to the GABF, which was October right after harvest, so we were weeks in planning. It wasn’t like a big planning thing. It was just like, let’s do this. We brought the hops there, and then the rest is history pretty much.
[00:58:47] HJ: That’s so cool. Just pull the trigger and do it; I like that.
[00:58:52] KL: Yeah, I’m a big pull-the-trigger-and-do-it, which gets me in trouble sometimes.
[00:58:55] HJ: I think it gets us all in trouble sometimes. We’re in our fifth year?
[00:59:03] KL: Yes.
[00:59:04] HJ: Yes, the fifth year of the Pink Boots fund. Can we talk numbers? Can we talk about how much has been raised over the years with the sale of the Pink Boots Blend?
[00:59:13] KL: Currently, to date, all the sales have contributed about $381,000, and that’s only the money that is off the hop blend itself. There’s a bunch of money that’s also been donated additionally that’s raised by the teams that brew. That’s probably totaling about an additional almost $300,000, if not a little bit more.
[00:59:34] HJ: Wow. That’s not a little bit. All that money goes towards scholarships and other educational pieces. You got all of that with the Pink Boots Society. That’s fantastic.
[00:59:45] KL: Yeah, it’s been really good. It actually might be more than that. It actually might be like $700,000 additional that’s been raised by the teams brewing because the year 2018 was $244,000 alone additionally raised, and then the other couple years, $250,000 is donated in 2020 by the additional teams, $66,000 in 2019, and $95,000 in 2017.
[01:00:10] HJ: Wow.
[01:00:11] KL: It’s quite a bit of money.
[01:00:12] HJ: Yeah. That’s amazing, and it just seems to be growing, which is fantastic.
[01:00:18] KL: Yeah, it’s been really cool. The first year, we sold about 14,000 lbs. In 2018, we sold about 28,000, 2019 we went up to 39,000, and in 2020, we’re up to 48,000. This year, the goal is to sell 50,000. We might not have made 50,000. That might be our fault if we don’t make it to 50,000 lbs, but we’re about to launch this year’s Pink Boots Blend, so that’s really exciting. Usually, the way we do the pounds is we ask for pre-orders, which is always kind of a tricky thing to ask for.
[01:00:48] HJ: Yeah, for sure.
[01:00:49] KL: But we tried, and then we tried to make more based on what’s been ordered. It’s been a nice, fun thing. It’s growing every year.
[01:00:59] ST: I think what’s amazing is that there are about 24 or 25 countries involved. That’s something I didn’t know until this year. That to me is just wild that it is a far-reaching thing and that we can unite so many different people from so many different backgrounds. There was a woman this year from Russia, and there was a woman from Peru this year at the Pink Boots Conference. Bringing in so many people from so many different backgrounds and countries, it’s pretty exciting.
[01:01:32] KL: Yeah, it’s really cool. I think we’re going to get some new chapters over in Asia this year too. It’s always exciting to see people see the growth and then want to be a part of it.
[01:01:42] BM: How has the current climate in our industry and COVID impacted how you proceed with all of this and how it’s shaped your roles?
[01:01:53] KL: I could go first if you want, Shanleigh.
[01:01:56] ST: Yeah, I’m trying to think. That’s a great question.
[01:01:59] KL: I can think really fast about how it shaped the Pink Boots Blend. It’s been actually really exciting, even though it’s a terrible time because we do this in person. At GABF, we do it at the National Pink Boots Meeting.
Since we haven’t been able to have that, we pivoted the first year in 2020, and we selected 15 teams to send the box of hops to. We gave them some great instructions, and we asked them to give us back their blend. They each got to present their own blend, then we took those in, and our sensory team, Tiffany and Tessa, did their magic with those.
They did one where across the top five, they did equal parts of each and then across the top five, equal parts of how many were selected per, so the percentage is like that. And then I always […] from the last one. I’m going to again because I forgot to ask, so I’ll get back to you guys.
Within those 15 teams, 8 of them are lottery, and I think the other 7 were top-performing chapters that were selected there. It was kind of like getting a scholarship. You wrote in saying why you should be selected to do this. Then the next year, since we still had it virtually, Sue Rigler, who’s always just pushing us to do better and more, asked if we could include every active Pink Boots chapter. We were able to make that happen, and we shipped out over 70 boxes across the world to people to select the Pink Boots Blend.
We did it the same way again. We had the set of instructions, turn your blend in, and then we’ll send back the top three, basically. Then from the top three, then the second vote is out of one of those three. But just being able to get so many people involved in the selection process was huge.
[01:03:42] BM: Yeah, it’s so interesting. It’s so interesting how you pivot, and some great things come from that.
[01:03:49] KL: It was really nice. It’s just been nice. To see people at the conference, our booth was full the whole time. People just come over asking questions. I just feel like that wouldn’t be the same if we weren’t doing this, helping them raise money for the Pink Boots Society to get more scholarships in the world. I feel like that’s really helped us solidify our relationship with them.
[01:04:11] HJ: We’re mentioning the conference. We are talking about the Pink Boots Conference that happened, was it last week?
[01:04:18] KL: Yeah.
[01:04:20] HJ: Yeah. Last week, I guess. Two weeks ago, for when this is going to be released? The Pink Boots Conference in Charlotte, both Shanleigh and Kelly were present there.
[01:04:29] KL: Yeah, it was a great time. Really good seminars, great attendance. Even the last seminar, which typically everyone is out the door, was full. It was so impressive that people stuck around. There were a lot of camaraderies there. It wasn’t just a typical let’s-go-get-wasted and this-is-my-day-not-to-be-on-The-BrewDeck type of thing. People were really engaged, and it was really impressive.
[01:04:57] ST: Yeah, the seminars were really poignant. I thought so too. They were very timely. There were a lot of DEI seminars and HR seminars. Not just technical seminars, but also amazing technical seminars, obviously, by some really incredible women. It was a really interesting conference.
[01:05:18] HJ: I’ll put that in for something to do next year. Do you, either, anyone, have any really fun Pink Boots stories from Pink Boots brews that you’ve participated in in the past? Any favorite beers that have come out of it?
[01:05:35] ST: I’m trying to remember. I know that the first Pink Boots Brew Day that I’ve ever attended was 2017. I think it was the first year that there was one. I was still brewing at the time outside of Seattle.
Dru Bru, which is actually in Snoqualmie Pass, they invited a few of us to do that, and that was fun. I can’t remember what beer we made with it, but I think it was an IPA, just like a West Coast-style IPA. I know it’s now smelling. We had all of the blends sitting out for the conference from 2017 all the way to today’s blend.
You can really smell the differences, how styles have changed, how it tastes, and how people’s beer preferences have changed because I know smelling the first one, 2017, it was piney. It was definitely like, wow, this is suited for 2017; this is exactly what people want.
[01:06:35] HJ: That’s so interesting. That is such an interesting way to look at it. This is West Coast time, and then…
[01:06:41] ST: Yeah, and then when moving into today’s and it’s like, wow, it’s beautiful. All of them smelled unbelievable, but definitely, this year’s and last year’s is very sabroey, especially last year. This year, it’s floral, tropical, and just sweet. We’ve got HBC 630 in it. That is a candy sweet bomb, and that’s so nice, but it’s so different from the original blend that we were working with.
I think we actually brewed just a West Coast IPA with that first blend, and then from there on out, it was more leaning towards the hazies. Then we got into sour for a little bit. I can’t even remember where it brewed that one. It’s interesting how things have changed over the last even just five or six years.
[01:07:36] KL: That’s a really good point, Shanleigh. I never really thought about it that way, how the blends have changed. But yeah, we were, I think, the early ones. Whenever we talk about 2017, too, we really mean it’s the 2018 brew year because 2017, we’re talking crop year at my company, which can get confusing for people. 2017 is when the hops come out of the ground, but you really don’t use them until 2018.
[01:07:57] HJ: Crop year versus brew year.
[01:07:58] KL: Yeah, crop year versus brew year. I know CMG, you guys work at brew year, right?
[01:08:04] HJ: We do. We definitely do, but we still talk crop year when we talk hops. You have 2020 crop hops that you’re using for the 2021 brew year. We do, at least understand.
[01:08:19] BM: But a lot of people that don’t work in contracts, that’s not something at the top of mind. I think it is something that’s good to educate on because I’ve had a few people that are like, oh, we don’t have any of the 2022 left. I’m like, well, it’s really the 2021.
[01:08:33] HJ: You shouldn’t have any 2022. If you’ve got to have all of the blends out in front of you, do you think you could pick a favorite?
[01:08:44] ST: We asked people when they were there to pick a favorite, and 2020, was pretty strongly favored. I don’t know. I love piney. I actually really liked the 2017. I’m like, we should go back to this. But this year, I think is exceptionally well balanced. I’m really looking forward to the brews that are coming out of this one for sure.
[01:09:11] KL: Yeah, I agree. That 2020 was really nice. I think the sabro just adds an element in there that really made it pop. Sabro is so strong, but 2021’s going to be awesome. They’re all fun. It’s neat to have different ones. We actually do have some of the 2020 and the 2019 still left, a few boxes here and there. If anybody is interested and revisiting or doing a secondary fundraiser to raise awareness for their chapter, you’re getting 50% of the money back in your chapter, I believe, is what the Pink Boots give you back when you do your own fundraisers.
[01:09:52] HJ: Oh, wow.
[01:09:54] KL: Yeah, you’re not just sending it to the national. You’re keeping some of it there, and then that, in turn, allows you as a chapter to do your own guild trip. I had one girl in Arizona, Kristan, she was the executive director of the guild, and she’s now starting her own company. She set up this awesome retreat at a really nice hotel up in Sedona. It was all paid for, and they had some people come and talk about different technical stuff or HR. It was just like this cool retreat for the Pink Boots crew because they had raised money from their brew days that they did, and they got to give back more than 50%.
[01:10:28] HJ: Yeah. I think it’s something to be said, you don’t just have to use this hop blend on International Women’s Day or for International Women’s Day. This can be used, obviously, year-round. And it is exclusive, so once it’s gone, it’s gone. We’re not going to see 2017 out on the market again. It’s cool to get to work with this exclusive blend while we have it and while we’re able to.
It’s always a good idea to pick it up. We at CMG do still have a limited amount available for spots. Make sure to reach out to your sales representatives if you’re interested in bringing it in and using it a little later in the year or just even doing it later at Women’s Day Brew?
[01:11:12] KL: I agree. I love International Women’s Day, but I do think there are other opportunities to do things for your community or do a vertical
[01:11:22] HJ: I was thinking about that. Can we call it a vertical if it’s not aged beer, but it’s a hop blend vertical?
[01:11:35] KL: It’s kind of there.
[01:11:36] HJ: We can make this happen.
[01:11:38] KL: We should try. I feel like this is something I need to try to get on the books. Shanleigh, you’ll help me. We’ll work on this together.
[01:11:44] HJ: I’m coming. Count me in. Bre, you’re coming to the West Coast.
[01:11:50] BM: You know I’m down. I’m trying to get out of the tundra.
[01:11:54] HJ: It’s way nicer out here. I’ll say, can we all go down and visit Kelly because I think it’s going to be much warmer where she is?
[01:12:03] KL: It’s super nice. It’s been hot here. We’re in the 70s. Sorry, ladies.
[01:12:08] HJ: Oh, man. California field trip. Thank you so much, Kelly and Shanleigh. I really appreciate you ladies coming on taking time out of your day to chat with us about Pink Boots, YCH, and the beautiful partnership that we’ve got going on there. I really, really appreciate it. Thank you.
[01:12:30] ST: No, thank you, Heather. This is great.
[01:12:32] KL: Thank you.
[01:12:33] HJ: Thank you so much for joining us for our special International Women’s Day at The BrewDeck podcast. We do still have a little bit of the Pink Boots Blend available on spots, so make sure to contact your sales rep to order some if you’re still interested. If you miss out on ordering it this year, please make sure to sign up for our mailing list and follow Country Malt Group on our socials, so you don’t miss the pre-buy next year. It usually starts around October.
In the next episode, we’re going to be chatting with some awesome female brewers from across North America to discuss their Pink Boots brew days. Thanks for joining.