B.C. brewery aims to get more women working in industry by donating profits from special batch of beer

·2 min read
A beer brewed this month by a North Vancouver brewmaster will be sold in collaboration with a society that provides scholarships to get more women working in the industry.  (CBC  - image credit)
A beer brewed this month by a North Vancouver brewmaster will be sold in collaboration with a society that provides scholarships to get more women working in the industry. (CBC - image credit)

Brewmaster Sarah Polkinghorne would love to see more women in her profession and is working on a new brew that could help make that happen.

Polkinghorne works at Black Kettle Brewing Co. in North Vancouver, B.C., which is participating in a collaboration brew with The Pink Boots Society, an organization that offers scholarships to women interested in making beer professionally.

The new brew from Black Kettle features a special hop blend supplied by Pink Boots and $1 from every glass of the beer sold will go back to the society.

The collaboration brew event is an annual occasion interested breweries can partake in every March to mark International Women's Day.

Members of the society, along with supporting breweries and individuals, put on their pink boots and brew their chosen beer style. Proceeds from sales of the collaboration brew are then split with the society.

Polkinghorne got her beer started on March 21 and it should be ready for drinking in about three weeks.

A chemist who started her career working quality control for Coca-Cola, Polkinghorne said she didn't even like beer that much before her career path led her to the brewing industry. But now she loves not only cracking cold ones, but concocting them, too.

Sarah Polkinghorne, brewmaster at Black Kettle Brewing Co. in North Vancouver, is brewing up a beer with a hop blend provided by the Pink Boots Society. A dollar of each glass of the beer sold will go back to the society.
Sarah Polkinghorne, brewmaster at Black Kettle Brewing Co. in North Vancouver, is brewing up a beer with a hop blend provided by the Pink Boots Society. A dollar of each glass of the beer sold will go back to the society. (Facebook/BlackKettleBrewing)

"The scientist in me really enjoyed it," she said about her early experiences brewing. She has now been at it for seven years.

However, women are under-represented in the craft beer game and Polkinghorne would like to see more female colleagues in the industry.

According to a 2019 employee report by the American-based Brewers Association, about 7.5 per cent of the staff of reporting breweries employed a female in the brewer role.

That proportion goes up to 37 per cent for women in "non-production" staff roles and the report shows the highest percentage of female hires is as service staff, where women take up 54 per cent of positions.

"It was barely even a career when I was in my 20s," said Polkinghorne. "If you're interested, reach out."

She suggested connecting with women brewing societies and checking out introductory brewing courses at B.C. post-secondary schools as places to start.

LISTEN | Brewmaster Sarah Polkinghorne explains how to make a batch of beer: