Every March for Women’s History Month, the Pink Boots Society's biggest annual collaborative initiative kicks off to raise money for member scholarships, educational opportunities, and other drives that help promote the roles of women working in the alcoholic beverage industry. This year’s goal remains the same, but like everything the pandemic has touched, the execution looks a little different.
The Pink Boots Society (PBS) is a global network of women in all fields of the industry, but mainly in beer. Since its inception in 2007, the group has expanded into nearly 40 states and seven countries, including Peru, Spain, and New Zealand. The annual Pink Boots Collaboration Fermentation Day, formerly known as Pink Boots Collaboration Brew Day, invites breweries, cideries, meaderies, and other fermented beverage professionals to purchase the proprietary Pink Boots hop blend from their partner Yakima Chief Hops, which donates $3 from every pound directly to PBS.
San Diego chapter co-leader Amy Spackman says that participation this year presents some unique challenges, as well as a few opportunities. Some recent changes have been made to increase inclusion in the group, most notably by encouraging homebrewers and breweries of beverages besides beer to participate and become members. This is the first year they’ve been explicitly invited to participate, although Spackman hopes that as the pandemic recedes, overall support will increase. “Right now, all of our educational resources are obviously beer-centric, but the more awareness we get, the more knowledge people can bring in,” she says.
Participation in 2021 is notably low, she admits, and that’s entirely thanks to COVID-19. The notoriously thin margins for most hospitality businesses have been stretched even further over the past year, with reduced revenue on top of unpredictable expenses like constructing outdoor patios to adhere to regulations. To give up any additional funds, even for a good cause, can be a hard sell.
Despite that, several breweries have stepped up to take part in the collaborative March brew day, including Mujeres Brew House, Stone Brewing, Athletic Brewing Company, Second Chance Beer, 3 Punk Ales Brewing, Karl Strauss, and more. However, breweries, wineries, and anyone else interested in purchasing the hop blend can do so at any point in the year while supplies last. Spackman hopes this extended time frame will encourage people to take advantage when their finances allow, and will continue highlighting women in beer even after Women’s History Month ends. “The March ‘Women’s Day’ emphasis is still going to be there,” she says, but “we shouldn’t think about a major section of the population just once a year.”
Breweries and any other fermented beverage business that wishes to take part in the 2021 Pink Boots Collaboration Fermentation Day can register and purchase the Yakima Chief Hops blend on the PBS website at any time. Consumers can expect to start seeing the first PBS beers hitting taprooms in late March and early April.