Grand Rapids, Mich. — March is Women’s History Month. International Women’s Day lands on March 8th annually, and since 2013, this day has also marked International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day, or IWCBD. IWCBD was founded by a female group of brewers in the U.K. who came together to collaborate and brew in their local communities. Led by Sophie de Ronde, these ladies decided to take a local idea and make it global to celebrate women and craft across the world.
To spread word of the event across the pond, de Ronde reached out to the Pink Boots Society, a U.S. organization with chapters in many of the 50 states. Denise Ratfield, head of Pink Boots Society’s social media at the time, helped launch IWCBD here in the U.S.
Since then, IWCBD has grown every year, and every year a new brewing theme is announced to challenge brew teams to get creative with ingredients and processes. In past years, recipes have been made to follow such themes as “Unite Exotic” and “Unite Local.” This year’s theme is “Unite Forage,” encouraging the use of wild yeast or local fruit, spices or herbs.
According to the official IWCBD map, over 80 breweries across the world have registered their collaboration brew days. They are joined by social groups, non-profits, local businesses and other craft companies who support the brews and the women making them.
Here in Michigan, there are 18 registered brew days on the official IWCBD calendar, and that’s not including breweries who did not register! These breweries are joined by local non-profits, craft ingredient companies, women’s social groups and more.
This year, one Michigan non-profit is actively promoting more emphasis, encouragement and support into IWCBD: Fermenta: A Women’s Craft Collective. Fermenta has made growing education and awareness for women in the fermented food and beverage industry its mission since the group was founded in 2014.
Fermenta’s membership and executive board started reaching out months in advance to breweries and organizations to encourage more participation in 2019’s “Unite Forage’ IWCBD. Most brew days are open to everyone, allowing a chance to learn the brewing process, meet craft industry professionals and network with others. IWCBD encourages participating breweries to invite employees and community members to brew at the facility, bringing women together who are passionate about beer.
Following the footsteps of Pink Boots Society and working alongside other Michigan social groups and networking organizations, Fermenta has confirmed collaboration brew dates at the following breweries*:
Batch Brewing Company, Beards Brewery, EagleMonk Pub and Brewery, Earthen Ales, Our Brewing Company, Perrin Brewing Company, Rare Bird Brewpub, Saugatuck Brewing Company, Short’s Brewing Company, Witch’s Hat Brewing Company, HomeGrown Brewing Company, Waypost Brewing Company, Bell’s Brewery, Grand Armory Brewing Company, Redline Brewing Company, Silver Spruce Brewing Company, Bier Distillery, Fillmore 13 and Cultivate Coffee & Taphouse.
Michigan organizations, businesses and groups who are also participating include: Girls Pint Out-Holland, Girls Pint Out-Ann Arbor & Ypsilanti, Girls Pint Out-Petoskey, Flint Area Brewers, Mushroom Head Malt Company, Pink Boot Society-Grand Rapids and Craft Cultures.
To find registered brew days around the world, check the IWCBD map online at www.unitebrew.org.
To get more information on Michigan IWCBD, follow Fermenta on Facebook or ask your local brewery.