MIDLAND — The phrase “an idea whose time has come” gets used quite often, and just as often, it doesn’t really fit the situation. But once in awhile, the phrase fits perfectly — as with the women’s craft beverage trade group Fermenta.

Pauline Knighton (Short’s Brewing Company) and Stacey Roth (Griffin Claw) had discussed the idea of forming a trade group for women in the craft beverage industry. The idea fermented in their minds, and this past April, women met at Arbor Brewing Company to work out a vision.

The focus of the group? To encourage more women to get involved in the craft beverage industry, and to expand women’s collective knowledge about beer in Michigan.

The ultimate mission of Fermenta is simple: it is a non-profit initiated by Michigan women, committed to diversity, camaraderie, networking and education within the craft beverage industry.

“People take you much more seriously when they know that you are part of a trade group,” said Moragh Goyette, an assistant brewer at Grizzly Peak. Angie Williams of Griffin Claw added that the opportunities for women in the industry are “tremendous”.  Fermenta will increase its educational and networking events as it grows.

The group had a rousing kick off at the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Fest, with 11 breweries having featured beers brewed by members of Fermenta. These included Lucie’s Lullaby from Boatyard Brewing Company, Michigan Honey Melon Amber from Fenton Winery and Brewery, It’s About Thyme from Short’s and Salted Caramel Brown from Witch’s Hat, to name a few.

Fermenta’s first official event was held this weekend at WhichCraft Taproom. As an added bonus to WhichCraft’s outstanding beer selection, some of the Fermenta beers were available. The bar’s environment lends itself to open conversation, which provided for an afternoon of tasting beers with new friends.

In addition to providing ample opportunities to mix and mingle, the event featured an educational talk by Certified Cicerone, Annette May.

May taught attendees about flavors and tastes of beers, focusing on the saison that was sampled. Before and after the talk, members could browse the trade tables that were set up. The tables included samples of honey, information from hop farmers and the latest brewing equipment.

“The part of the day that made me stop and smile the most was when a woman approached me to tell me that she had just accompanied her friend to the event, but had no intentions of joining. However, the woman was so impressed that she became a member and can’t wait to get more involved,” said Knighton, who serves as the group’s president.

“[At one point in the day], I actually stopped, looked around, and was beaming with excitement. All the women who made today happen are amazing and worked their butts off — it was just a great success,” she said.

Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery