It's Sunday night, and women from Lancaster to Dallas have gathered at Collective Brewing Project in Fort Worth to taste sour beers and discuss lactobacillus and brettanomyces, microorganisms used in brewing sour beers.
"Brett does not make beer sour," says Carly Taylor, taproom manager at Collective, as she teaches the other women about the bacteria and yeast involved in brewing the house beers.
This is the Northern Texas chapter of Pink Boots Society, a 10-year-old organization dedicated to educating and uniting women working in or studying the beer industry. The association's name refers to the color of boots many women wear while working in a brew house -- though, of course, not all women wear pink. This local chapter is young, formed in 2016. There are 20 registered members, with roughly five to 15 who show up for each meeting.
The women who make up the local Pink Boots chapter work in divergent areas of beer -- taprooms, distribution, brewing -- but are united in their drive to learn more about all aspects of the industry. And, of course, by a love of the beverage itself, showing up early to try beers at whichever brewery hosts the meeting.
This Sunday, they're sampling Collective's Suspicious Delicious, a saison/farmhouse ale. After attentively taking notes while Taylor explains the science behind sour beer, with help from Collective founder Ryan Deyo, the women adjourn to taste-test the brew and compare the flavor on draft and from a bottle.
At these meetings, the ladies discuss everything from flavor profiles -- once, with a tasting featuring Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans -- to the nitty-gritty science behind brewing. Today's lesson is peppered with vocabulary like "pediococcus" and "foeders."
"It's an unintimidating, welcoming place to get educated," says Brittany LaFollett, a brand ambassador for 903 Brewers. "It's tough sometimes, too. You're already in the industry, and you've maybe been in the industry for a while, but there's still so much to learn. ... If I don't know everything about a certain topic, I feel very comfortable in the environment of Pink Boots."
In addition to education, the members agree that spending time with women in beer is empowering.
"You have this network of support," LaFollett says. "We as women, we make up like half of the drinking population, and we're enthusiastic about craft beer."
For Annalise Boydston, the youngest member at the meeting and a taproom manager at The Thirsty Growler, the cathartic nature of the meetings draws her to Pink Boots. Many members are the only or one of few women working at their breweries, and their representation grows alongside the D-FW craft beer scene.
"When I see young women at craft beer festivals, or coming up to me at demos or at pint nights and they're enthusiastic about craft beer, it gets me excited and hopeful," LaFollett says. "I want more women to drink local craft beer and be excited, and to be curious, and to feel OK asking questions."