Women brewers are in the spotlight this Sunday, March 8th for the 6th annual SheBrew Festival in Portland. This year’s festival will be held on International Women’s Day and expands to a new venue at Castaway in Northwest Portland.
SheBrew was founded by Jenn McPoland, Jamie Koty, and Koty’s wife Stef-Anie Wells-Koty in 2014. Wells-Koty was working for non-profit the Human Rights Campaign and McPoland and Koty were longstanding members of the Oregon Brew Crew. In conjunction with HRC they started the fest as an opportunity to raise funds for good causes and highlight women brewers.
The first SheBrew had 10 female homebrewers and just one pro brewer, and while today the number of homebrewers pouring remains the same, the list of professionals has gone from one to 32 female brewers and cidermakers. The original SheBrew alumnus is represented again this year with Lisa Allen of Heater Allen Brewing, the only brewer who has participated every single year.
The fest features beer from both homebrewers and pro brewers, all available for sampling at the fest; there was a separate homebrew competition held in conjunction with it. The female-only homebrew competition collected an impressive 208 entries from 23 states this year. Winners of this year’s competition have already been announced, but the organizers are saving the best for the festival, where the overall Best in Show winner will be announced. That BOS winner, will get to brew a beer with professional brewer Natalie Baldwin at Breakside Brewery.
Though they started out tiny at 50 attendees and this year expect more than 1,000 people to attend SheBrew, organizer Jenn McPoland still tells us it’s difficult to pull off.
“We have no real budget and are 100% non profit,” says McPoland. “Shannon Scott of HRC, Christine Garcia (my neighbor & graphic artist), and myself pretty much spend most of the year putting it together. It is truly a labor of love. Just getting the teams together to pick up and drop off kegs was a challenge until this year.”
Luckily, the community has really stepped up to support this very unique festival. McPoland’s husband Jeremie Landers is essential in the organization and setup, making sure all the beer is pouring. Preston Weesner of the Holiday Ale Festival donates his time as does Maude Haney of the Caputo Group. A big addition this year is the assistance of new wholesale startup High Road Distributing, they are facilitating all of the keg pickups and transportation this year, and their Nano Fest is loaning all the jockey boxes and pouring equipment.
“It takes a village,” says McPoland. “But honestly, there are so many people that go out of their way to help us, it all works itself out. The easy part: Getting these badass women to sign on and keep me informed of any new women brewers or cider makers that have emerged. They are an incredible group to work with!”
The SheBrew Festival is not only a celebration of female brewers and cider makers, both amateur and professional; it is an event for all genders and ages honoring equality. SheBrew supports all women and the LGBTQ community with all proceeds going to the Human Rights Campaign and the Oregon Brew Crew.
SheBrew is all-ages friendly, there will be games for kids and food from Firepit Kitchen and On Tots.
Tickets for SheBrew are $25 in advance or $30 on the day of the event this Sunday 3/8/2020 from noon to 8pm. Each ticket includes 10 tasting tokens, a commemorative glass and an a one year membership to the Human Rights Campaign. VIP Tickets are $50 and include all benefits of a general admission ticket, plus early entry (1 hour) and a commemorative t-shirt.
If an individual is not drinking alcohol, no admission is required.
Castaway Portland 1900 NW 18th Ave, Portland, OR 97209
Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding.