Last week saw the women who work at Bellfield, take over the brew house under the eagle eye of our R&D brewer, Sally MacGarry, to brew a special beer to mark International Womens Day on 8th March.
Keith – Bellfield’s production brewer – had a day in the office instead, catching up on paperwork, while we mashed, boiled, hopped and cleaned.
While craft brewing has a reputation for being the preserve of young men with beards, that’s now a bit of a cliche.
There are now dozens of award-winning female brewers like Do Bongers at Fierce, Sophie de Ronde at Burnt Mill, Jaega Wise at Wild Card and Jane Frances LeBlond at Mothership - and loads of female brewery founders including Petra Wetzel at West and Heather MacDonald at WooHa.
And go back a few hundred years, and women dominated the brewing industry. Hence the term ‘ale wives’ and brewsters as they were known.
Our Womens Day brew is going to be a fruity, hoppy, golden ale around 3.8ABV and we’re calling it Mimosa, after the beautiful and fragrant yellow flower that’s the symbol of International Women’s Day. [I first learned this fact in my early twenties, when a young Italian man who was in love with my best friend, showed up on 8th March to stay with us in London, and arrived clutching a bunch of Mimosa!]
We’ve bought in some special hops chosen for their taste and aroma. These include Bodicea, Azacca™ and Amarillo, that we hope will give our Mimosa beer the honeyed, fruity, aromatic character that we’re looking for.
So did the women of Bellfield enjoy getting their hands on the shiny kit in the brew house?
Although it was nothing new to Sally, we novices found that the process of brewing was huge fun and surprisingly physical.
Our day started relatively early, about 0830am, lugging 25kg bags of malt and maize to the augur (a hopper with an Archimedes screw attached) that carries the grain up and into the top of the mash tun where it’s mixed with water that’s heated to around 65 degrees C.
A break for coffee and cake while we carefully measured out hops to be used at the boil stage. The mash having been transferred into the kettle, we then added three kinds of bittering hops, according to a rigorous schedule.
The wort was then transferred through a heat exchanger into one of our fermenting vessels where it’ll sit until we dry hop with our special hops in a few weeks’ time.
Then followed an hour or two of emptying tanks of grain and hops (including Anna, our marketing manager, getting right inside the mash tun), scrubbing, rinsing, power washing and flushing, until the brew house was immaculate, ready for next week’s brewing.
And the best bit? We beat the Bellfield men’s record time for a day’s brewing and cleaning by a whole half hour. Not that we’re competitive or anything.
Mimosa will be launched as a limited edition beer, in keg, in our Edinburgh tap room on 6th March and £1 from every pint of it sold over that weekend will be donated to Scottish Women’s Aid, a charity that’s close to our hearts. They work to prevent domestic abuse through a network of 36 specialist local Women’s Aid groups. Trade: to order email us at email@example.com or call us on 0131