Dani at Brave Brews Fest
Beer & Wine,  Upstate New York

Brave Brews Fest in Auburn Celebrates Women in Craft Beer

This weekend, Prison City Brewing Company in Auburn, New York kicked off Women’s History Month with their annual Pink Boots Brew Day. While it is their 5th year of hosting this empowering event, it is the first year that it was part of a weekend-long festival. Together with Cayuga County Tourism and the Equal Rights Heritage Center, Prison City Brewing Company launched Brave Brews Fest. A 3-day celebration of women in craft beer and women’s history? Count me in!

About Brave Brews Fest

With its growing popularity, and the need for more exposure and appreciation for woman in craft beer, Prison City co-owner Dawn Schulz wanted to expand their annual Pink Boots Brew Day. In previous years, the event included roughly 20 participants, but nearly quintupled this year at near 100 women (and a few brave men). Not only that, the brew day kicked off Brave Brews Fest, a weekend of dozens of events honoring women.

Women in the craft beer industry from around the country came to attend the festival, both presenting and participating in various events.

Dawn Schulz of Prison City Brewing

Women’s History in Auburn

If there is a location in Central New York as significant to women’s history as Seneca Falls, it’s Auburn. Home to incredible woman like Harriet Tubman, Frances Seward, Martha Coffin Wright, and Emily Howland, Auburn was the center of several historic events. Luckily, many locations tied to women’s history have become museums so their legacies live on for generations to come.

When in Auburn, be sure to visit the following places:

As part of the Brave Brews Fest, there are special tours and exhibitions in many of these locations.

Pink Boots Brew Day at Prison City

Since opening in downtown Auburn in 2014, Prison City Brewing has truly made a name for itself, not just in New York State, but around the country. Owned by Dawn and Marc Schulz, Prison City is proud to have won several awards for their beers. But don’t be fooled! They are as humble and kind as anyone you’ll meet. They are always looking for ways to give back to their communities, both in Auburn and in the craft beer world.

I was lucky enough to attend my first Pink Boots Brew Day this year – and it was so much better than I ever imagined! The day started at 9am with pastries from Em’s Artisan Baking, along with samples of Puff Puff Shiv, Prison City’s infamous “accidental” beer. Creamy and chocolatey, is there a better breakfast beer option?

What is the Pink Boots Society?

Good question! The Pink Boots Society is an organization created to assist and inspire ladies in the fermented and alcoholic beverage industry. Chapters of the society have been created across the world to support fellow women and non-binary folx in the industry. Breweries with local PBS chapters often create Pink Boots beers during March for Women’s History Month. Check if your local breweries have any!

Featured Women in Craft Beer

It’s no surprise that Pink Boots Brew Day was full of guest appearances by female powerhouses in the craft beer industry… and lots of beer!

Vickie Leith from Delirium Brewing told us all about Deliria. This surprisingly strong, yet smooth, blonde ale is brewed entirely by women. No men are even allowed inside the brewery when they make it! As the largest brewery in Belgium, Delirium is also proud to host a Pink Boots scholarship. Every year, one Pink Boots Society member gets to travel to Belgium to participate in the annual brewing of Deliria.

Jacki Hannon from Bell’s Brewery partnered with local favorite Muranda Cheese for a mid-morning beer and cheese pairing. Featuring some of Bell’s best beers and some phenomenal cheeses, this was definitely one of the highlights of the day.

Lunch featured four courses with beer pairings from cookbooks by Jackie Dodd-Mallory, The Beeroness. Jackie not only talked about how she turned her love of cooking with beer into a career, but she also signed books during a meet-and-greet Saturday morning.

Some of the best female beer influencers were invited to attend the festivities. I’m very lucky to have met some wonderful new friends in the craft beer world! Be sure to check out their accounts for some insBEERation: @taratea, @abrewtifulmess, @beer.brat, @thecraftbeergirl, @beautyofthebeer, and @craftbeerdeer.

Kelly Guilfoyle from Drink Like a Girl also hung out with the ladies during the brewing, hyping up her 5k walk and beer tasting on Saturday. If you’re a beer-loving gal located in New York State, you’ve got to check out the events that Kelly runs!

Representatives from fellow New York breweries were also present throughout the day. And yes, KCBC, Lunkenheimer, and Young Lion each brought beers to sample.

On Saturday, Celeste Beatty, found and brewer at Harlem Brewing Company, also made a special appearance.

Brewing Shine Theory

The signature event of every Pink Boots Brew Day at Prison City is the brewing of Shine Theory. This New England IPA always includes Yakima Chief hops with a different additional hop each year. Amanda, one of Prison City’s brewers, was hard at work throughout the day on the brew day, mashing and brewing the hazy beer. As for the rest of us, we were able to join her to watch the process, ask question, and add in Citra hop pellets to the brew kettle. Yes, I can officially say that I “helped” brew a commercial beer – even if in the tiniest way possible.

The day rounded out with a few rounds of beer bingo (with prizes!) and desserts before the evening’s events began.

Brave Brews Fest Continues

Once the brew day had wrapped up, dozens of local businesses in town held events honoring both women and craft beer. Often both. Saturday’s festivities includes the Drink Like a Girl 5k and tastings, multiple meet-and-greets, and special female-focused tours. Plus, Prison City released their brand new Drink Like a Girl beer! The day ended with the sold out Fire & Ice Festival at Prison City.

The final day of Brave Brews Fest was casual and unstructured, allowing attendees to make their own schedules. Cayuga County Tourism encouraged folks to both be and support Brave Women FLX. I truly cannot wait until next year’s Brave Brews Fest, which will only be bigger and better. This time I’m blocking out my whole weekend for the festivities!

Tell me your thoughts!