Spring has arrived, I think.
The season has started off with some excitement, after the success of Maid In Norfolk, the first collaboration beer brewed by Norfolk Broads Brewing Company (Humpty Dumpty) as a celebration of 25 years of ownership. It was launched at the Great British Beer Festival Winter, but what also made it special was the brewers, I was selected as one of the first collaborators for this new project to highlight the fantastic work that women do in the beer sector. The next ambassador will be Dawn Hopkins from The Rose Inn, Norwich and this beer will be launched during City Of Ale in May.
But it should come as no surprise that women are involved in brewing and this sector. The first brewers were women, the Bronte sisters all knew how to brew and Queen Elizabeth I had two breweries in her palaces. One for Ale (unhopped) and one for Beer (hopped).
Moving on only a couple of hundred years it seems that some are surprised by women brewing, yet this region has some extremely respected brewsters, Belinda Jennings, Joe C and Sophie De Ronde to name but a few. In a period when sexism in the industry is in the news (I am not going to dwell on this, more experienced people have done this more eloquently) I was delighted to join a wonderful group of women as part of International Womens Day (8th March) to brew a beer at Burnt Mills under the leadership of Sophie De Ronde (their head brewer).
I was joined in this adventure (over the boarder) by Lesley George (Norfolk Broads Brewing), Aey Allen (landlady of The Vine, Norwich) and Celia a young lady from the Abbey Val Deui, who had come from Belgium to join us.
This was a hands-on day, with all of the women involved in every part of the process, including the cleaning. If you have ever thought of becoming a brewer, you should note, over 90% of your time will involve cleaning. Aey took great delight in this aspect and although being petite she was the main person cleaning out the mash tun and I have the pictures to prove it.
There are many changes taking place in the beer sector over the next few months, one of the major ones is the CAMRA AGM in Coventry. We will wait and see how this will affect the drinker, brewer and publican. Meantime, go to your local, enjoy a beer and celebrate everyone responsible for the fact you have a glass of liquid bread in your hand.