March 8th was International Women’s day, a time to celebrate the achievements of women in social, economic, cultural and political domains. In the craft brewing industry, women consume roughly 33% of craft beer produced; Saisons, Pilsners, Wits, Pale Ales, Dunkles, Amber Ales, Sours, IPAs, Stouts and many more beer styles. Along with an increase in Beer Drinking Ladies, there is also an increase in Beer Brewing Ladies in the craft beer industry. The 2016 graduating class of the Niagara College Brewmaster program hosts three spectacular female brewers; Abbie George, Ainsley Robertson, and Vandra Ruppel. They are also preceded by many female Brewmaster graduates and currently women make up 17% of the Brewmaster program students. This ratio has seen a 9% increase since the program began in 2012.
Historically, women were the masters of the craft and up until around the 1700’s Brewsters dominated the brewing industry before inequality started to set in. In today’s society there is a call for and deserved push for equality, especially within industrial fields. Women are muscling back into the brewing industry with talent, creativity, scientific and technical expertise to produce high-caliber brews.
Ainsley Robertson is one of Trafalgar Brewery’s talented brewers. She quickly proved herself working her way through packaging, cellaring and straight into brewing. She credits Trafalgar’s Brewmaster, Dave Jamieson, with mentoring her throughout her brewing career. She was accepted into the Olds College Brewmaster program where she spent two semesters before transferring to the Niagara College Brewmaster program in 2015. She was able to return to Trafalgar Brewery and has had great brewing success, especially with her own recipe for a base stout that proved popular among visitors to the Trafalgar taproom. For project brew she has used sour cherry, cocoa and vanilla bean to transform her stout into a German Black Forest torte in a glass. Check out Ainsley’s Schwarzwälder Stout at Project Brew 2016.
Vandra Ruppel, our state-side-sister, has been brewing with Woodcock Brothers Brewing Company on their 10 bbl system since 2013. With a winning combination of unwavering determination, genuine fascination and her quirky personality, she convinced the owners that she was destined for a spot on their brew floor. Working side by side with her mentor, Tim Woodcock, she learned the ropes on their 10 bbl system. Shortly after she was accepted into the Niagara College Brewmaster program where she has proven her commitment and achieved President’s Honor Roll status. Vandra fears nothing! For Project Brew she confidently and boldly brewed with an unfamiliar but exciting ingredient; fresh lemon grass! Her bright pale ale with lots of citrus flavors, “When life give you lemongrass”, will remind us that spring is here and summer is on the way.
Abbie George has been living in the land down under (and of light lagers) for the past decade. She recently returned home to the Great White North where she tasted her first true craft beer and exclaimed “This grog’s a bloody ripper, fair dinkum it goes off like a frog in a sock mate!” A few weeks later she applied and was accepted into the highly competitive Brewmaster program at Niagara College. Despite the three-hour daily commute from Toronto, her dedication to her brewing education was validated after hard work earned her a spot on the President’s Honor Roll. She is the only First Nations female to go through the program and is looking forward to getting her hands dirty with a craft brewery in Toronto upon graduation. For Springfest 2016 she has used her creativity to develop a unique brew; a passionfruit infused Gose. This beer will transport your taste buds to an island paradise with it’s zing of tropical passionfruit flavor, light ocean-spray minerality and pleasantly refreshing tartness. “Gose’Head, make my day”, buy your ticket to Project Brew 2016 today and come sample these strong beers brewed by strong women.
Vandra, Ainsley and Abbie’s beers will be featured at Project Brew 2016, and are something to keep an empty glass ready for! Check out our Beers on Tap page for more details on what they and our other brewers have made for you.