Snow Hop Brewery will have a new beer coming out sometime soon that might be pink. Or not. Becky Peppelman, the head brewer for Snow Hop, isn't sure if the hibiscus petals and pomegranate juice will make the new Pink Brut IPA follow its name, but she is sure that the Pink Boots Society is the key to its creation.
The Pink Boots Society is a professional group of women in brewing from around the world. With a mission statement determined to "assist, inspire, and encourage women beer professionals through education," the society is determined to get its boots on the ground as much as possible. At Snow Hop on Thursday, a group of women in the brewing industry did just that.
Peppelman has been part of the Pink Boots Society for a while.
"There are not a lot of women brewers," Peppelman said. "This is great for making connections in the industry and more formally, education."
As part of the society's mission, scholarships for classes, brewing opportunities and other useful professional engagements are funded in part by productions like Snow Hop's new Pink Brut IPA, which uses a Pink Boots hop blend from the Yakima Valley in Washington.
Peppelman said the goal was to make a session-style IPA without a lot of bitterness, but a lasting hop-kick. The aim is a 5.8 percent alcohol by volume measurement, with some color added by the hibiscus leaves and some pomegranate juice, which will be added toward the end of the brewing process. However, the beer is secondary to the community.
The half-dozen women in brewing who came to Snow Hop to work on a new beer for the Pink Boots Society were all in Helena because of those connections. Groups from Missoula's Draught Works, McDantim Inc., a Helena-based beer equipment company and a brewer from San Diego all made the trip to work on the beer Thursday.
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"There's camaraderie here," Nicko Lannan, Draught Works' creative manager, said. "There's strong networking opportunities too."
There are 30-some women in the Montana Pink Boots chapter.
"The chapter is what you make of it," Lannon said. The Snow Hop event is part of the plan to build the Montana chapter up, and again to make those incredibly important connections.
Peppelman said forming connections that last is doubly important for women in brewing.
Rachel Hotchko is a production manager for Modern Times in San Diego. She made the trip to Helena because of a previous Pink Boots event she had attended with Peppelman in Germany, where the two of them and other Pink Boots members made the rounds of Bavaria. While observing brewing techniques and sampling the available products was key, the fact Hotchko made her way to Helena in March is a sign of the strong connections the society prides itself on.
Barbie Edwards, Snow Hop's owner, has been part of the society for about a year.
"I've met some fantastic women," Edwards said about her time in the Pink Boots. "This is a great way to get everyone together."