Craft ~ brews and reviews
By Greg Richardson
Happy October and Happy
When we think about craft beer in October
it is easy for our thoughts to be drawn to Octoberfest or
even pumpkin ales. These, though, are relatively recent
manifestations of beer in October.
The roots of beer
and Halloween go much deeper back into our history. The primary
connection between brewing and Halloween is through witches.
In ancient Sumeria
the profession of brewing was the only one watched over by a female
deity, named Ninkasi. In ancient Babylon, women worked as
baker-brewers and distributed beer commercially. Brewing was the
province of Egyptian women. The goddess Hathor was considered to
have invented brewing and Hathor’s temple at Denedra was known as a
place of public drunkenness. Other African societies also credited
women with creating beer.
took over production of beer in the 11th Century, brewing was the
domain of tribal Germanic women. Hops was first recommended as an
ingredient in beer by Saint Hildegard of Bingen.
Women in northern
England were the primary brewers for their communities.
toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and
Over a long period
of time in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries brewing in Europe
changed from being a women’s profession to one dominated by men,
particularly churchmen. Women were forced out of brewing, and a new
ideology of female brewers was created.
As brewing became
dominated by men, women came to be seen as incapable of brewing
properly. Female brewers and ale sellers were depicted as
“witch-like, untrustworthy, and grotesque.” Women were described as
using their charms to induce meant to drink. By linking alewives
with witchcraft, men were able to “justify the social control of
Many aspects of
our image of witches grew out of the practices of these female
Medieval brewers and ale sellers.
They used large brew cauldrons filled
with boiling wort.
An ale stake was displayed above the
door of a brewer with ale for sale. It was a rod with with many
smaller sticks tied onto one end and doubled as a broom used
for sweeping the shop.
Brewers often kept a cat to
keep rampant rodents out of their grain storage.
When brewers took their ale to market,
they would wear tall pointed hats to be clearly visible
and stand out in the crowd.
IE Brew Witches
I have gotten to
know a more contemporary group of witches interested in craft beer
The IE Brew
Witches were formed almost a year ago by two women working at
different Southern California craft breweries. Julia was working
part time the Hamilton Family Brewery in Rancho Cucamonga. One slow
Monday evening Destiny, from Hangar 24 in Redlands stopped in for a
flight. They got to talking and came up with the idea of a group for
women who are passionate about craft beer to get together, support
each other, and taste locally brewed beer.
It was “love at
IE Brew Witches hold a meet up most
Thursdays at a local craft brewery or tasting room. I attended a
meet up at Rescue
Brewing a couple months ago.
The main focus is on learning more about and tasting great craft
They rotate their
meet ups throughout the Inland Empire, not visiting one location
more than others. They also seek out new beer releases by local
Two members of the board recently brewed
a persimmon wit beer with the head brewer of La Verne Brewing for a
membership drive on October 7.
The most intriguing beer-food pairing I
heard about was when Last
Name Brewing (then Dale
Brothers) in Upland held a Girl Scout cookie and beer pairing which
was described as phenomenal.
The group is in
the initial stages of offering annual memberships with incentives
for members and breweries to get involved. They recently became
incorporated and are working on their tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status.
Anyone can become
a member of IE Brew Witches. Whether you prefer a great hoppy triple
IPA or a rich, dark stout. You do not need to live in the Inland
Empire or even be female. Plenty of men participate.
I am told the women in IE Brew Witches
are more interested in craft beer than many men are. As they say, No
The best way to find out more is to
follow them on Instagram at iebrewwitches or
on Facebook at
I.E. Brew Witches. You can
meet people, find out more, and taste some excellent local craft
beer. Everyone is welcome.
Happy October and Happy Halloween! I hope
you have an opportunity to make friends with your inner brew witch
Greg Richardson is a leadership and
organizational coach, and a spiritual life mentor, in Pasadena,
California. He is passionate about craft brewing, listening, and
monks and monastic life. Greg is a recovering attorney, executive,
and university professor. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and
he is on Twitter @StrategicMonk.
You can email Greg at StrategicMonk@gmail.com.