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‘SheBrew’ crafting a new world for women in the brewing industry

<i>KPTV via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Jessica Hardie is crafting a new world for women in the brewing industry.
Lawrence, Nakia
KPTV via CNN Newsource
Jessica Hardie is crafting a new world for women in the brewing industry.

By Bonnie Silkman

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    PORTLAND, Oregon (KPTV) — You can help celebrate National Women’s History Month this weekend at a beloved beerfest called “SheBrew.”

SheBrew highlights all female brewers, and one of them tells FOX 12 in a male-dominated industry she’s excited to represent women crafting their own space in the world of beer.

“It is definitely something you still see people surprised by – ‘oh you brew?’ And it’s a very specific tone, you know that tone, ‘Oh, you’re the brewer?’” said Jessica Hardie.

Yes, she is. In fact, Hardie is the head brewer and proud owner of TPK Brewing in southeast Portland.

“Women love beer, I think it’s a common misconception that we’re just cocktails,” Hardie said. “When I was in college, when I was at Siebel even, I was there as a brewer and people were like, ‘women only drink seltzers,’ and I was like ‘excuse me, I’m here in the same class you are.”

What got her started in the beer game might surprise you.

“My passion for brewery started kinda in a weird, round about way… by Dungeons & Dragons,” she said. “I was really into tabletop role-playing games, and I would bring beer to share with my friends during those games, then it became – it would be really cool if I made the beer for my friends.”

Fast-forward to opening Oregon’s first tabletop role-playing brewpub where Portlanders can come for the beer and stay for the quest.

“My beers are either named or based off of [characters]. Okay, this character reminds me of a stout or, so then we time those releases of the beer specifically when players are meeting those characters,” Hardie said.

Now, Hardie is brewing for SheBrew PDX. It’s a beerfest for female-identifying beer and cidermakers. The festival is coming up this weekend during Women’s History Month with 100% of all proceeds going toward the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, The Human Rights Campaign.

“It is so inclusive, it is so diverse. It’s an opportunity to empower women and to show off what doesn’t necessarily show off,” said Jenn McPoland, co-founder of SheBrew.

Humans have been drinking beer for thousands of years, but many don’t release that the original brewers were women. It’s a forgotten pairing and that’s something SheBrew is trying to change.

“Women and beer – it was ours. It was our thing, it was our specialty,” said Hardie. “If you look at the early brewers you might recognize their pointed hats, that’s the inspiration for witches. You would know the brewers at taverns because they had the pointed hats, you know those were the ladies you go to to get your beer.”

While the statistics for women working in the craft beer industry remain low compared to men, those numbers are steadily on the rise as more women, like Hardie, take a leading role in crafting a change in representation.

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