Women in KPU’s brewing program unveil new beer for International Women’s Day

This year’s creation features flavours of hibiscus, crushed rose petals, and oak chips

The KPU brewery lab at the Langley campus. (File photo)

The KPU brewery lab at the Langley campus. (File photo)

Female brewers at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s brewing program and alumni came together last month to create a beer with the Pink Boots Society to celebrate International Women’s Day. 

Every year, KPU brewing instructors and students work with the Pink Boots Society, an organization that assists and inspires women in the alcoholic beverage industry, and invites breweries to create a “Pink Boots Blend” that helps support women in the industry. 

A total of 12 women, including instructors and students, took part in the beer creation process at KPU’s brew lab in Langley on Feb. 11.

The Hibiscus Rose Brut Ale, which is a champagne-style ale, will soon launch at Farm Country Brewing in Langley on March 8 and at the brew lab at KPU on March 11. 

While this is the fourth year of KPU collaborating with the organization, this year’s beer release is a bit different. 

The beer was named Betty Boots to thank recently retired dean of science and horticulture Elizabeth Worobec for her work and help in starting the brewing program at KPU. Brewers carefully planned what ingredients to put in the beer to reflect her personality. 

When Worobec found out the beer would be named after her, she was happily surprised. 

“It was a great feeling,” Worobec says. “To tie it in with International Women’s Day is just sort of the icing on the cake.” 

“It’s certainly something I’ll cherish and keep forever because it’s just a great reminder of what we’ve done at KPU,” she says.

Nancy More, DeAnn Bremner, Martina Solano Bielen, and Emily Kokonas are a few of the brewing instructors who were part of the collaboration. 

Kokonas says that instructors and students got together on a Zoom call on a Friday night to brainstorm ideas for what they wanted to do, what style of beer they wanted to make, and to get an idea of what ingredients they should use. 

“It was really a big collaboration between everyone from start to finish,” Kokonas says. 

“One of the students, it was her suggestion to do the hibiscus and rose, she was really adamant that she wanted those kinds of flavours in it, and we thought that sounded nice.” 

Before Kokonas became an instructor at KPU, she was a student in the brewery program and also worked for other breweries such as The Bakery Brewing and Central City Brewers. During her time in the industry, she says that while she feels lucky she hasn’t faced many challenges, she has experienced negative comments from customers. 

“It’s more so been customers or other people who just don’t think that I could possibly be a brewer, and feel the need to explain things and beer to me,” Kokonas says. “But in the actual industry itself, I haven’t faced many hurdles thankfully.” 

For second-year brewing student Lindsey Bartram, creating the beer in the lab was her favourite part of the project. 

Each first-year student was paired with a second-year student, and everyone signed up doing a different task ranging from mashing grains to transferring from one container to another. 

“That was the very exciting part, was opening the bag of the boots blend this year,” Bartram says. “I was very excited to smell it because it’s a new blend every year.” 

This year’s Pink Boots Blend consists of the aromas of citrus and berry to produce a sweet smell. 

Although the brewing process for Betty Boots is over, Bartram says it’s important to have these types of collaborations to chat with other women in the industry and bring more community involvement. 

“It’s really empowering to me personally as a woman in the brewing program,” Bartram says. 

“It’s very exciting to see and talk to other women at other breweries and chat about what they got to make and what their recipe ideas are. It just evokes a lot of conversation with other women brewers, which is a very cool thing.”