XX: A Celebration of the Role of Women in the World of Beer
Last November a conversation over some beers with a friend set the wheels in motion for XX. My friend told me that by getting to know the team at Wiper and True, and by tasting beers with me on numerous occasions, her perception of beer and working in a brewery had changed. Seeing our female brewers at work and having to tolerate me constantly talking about beer had highlighted to her the positive role of women in brewing.
With International Women’s Day around the corner, it seemed the perfect time to celebrate the fact that women brew, promote, distribute, drink, critique and enjoy beer. Producing a beer that is made from start to finish by the women in our team felt like a fitting tribute. So we got to work developing a recipe for a beer that celebrates the longstanding contribution that women have made to the world of beer, and the XX brew was born.
MEET THE XX TEAM
Brewer – Amanda
Joining us as a quality control expert from Molson Coors in Canada, Amanda has been a pivotal brewer at Wiper and True for three years. Her focus for 2018 is developing our sensory analysis programme and improving our quality assurance.
Brewer – Flo
Flo joined us in 2016 after graduating from the University of Bristol. She was introduced to the world of beer by her Master Brewer father Derek Orford and she has recently passed her IBD foundation qualification. She is one of our three brewers and is also training as a beer sommelier.
Assistant Brewer – Cynthia
Cynthia started with us last year; before this she was working at Cantillon in Belgium. Cynthia has recently attained her IBD foundation qualification. She aids the smooth running of brew and packaging days and also hosts the tours in our tap room.
Sales and Marketing - Lucy
Lucy is on the front line, responsible for taking orders, getting beer to our customers and generally ensuring the good ship Wiper and True stays afloat.
Director – Francesca
Francesca has been with the brewery since the early days. She works on strategy, HR and individual projects.
Finance – Claire
Claire has been on the team since 2014; she ensures all our bills are paid on time and manages our financial planning, payroll, cash flow and other such vital money matters.
Sales and Marketing – Vicky (that’s me)
I joined Wiper and True in 2015. I organise and represent the brewery at events, manage our social media and online content and also manage our Tap Room. I also spend a fair amount of time staring at spreadsheets, working on sales analysis and I work with the brew team on product development.
Named XX to represent the female chromosomes, our chosen brew is a Gooseberry Wheat Beer brewed with botanicals. Tart, refreshing and crisp, these fresh characteristics felt like a good fit with spring just around the corner.
We chose to add botanicals as a nod to the provenance of women in beer history and a tribute to our alewife predecessors. It is largely acknowledged that before the industrialisation and commercialisation of brewing in the UK, making beer was the domain of women. These women were known as alewives and they sold their excess ales for profit in alehouses, at markets and from their doorsteps. The symbol of a broomstick was historically associated with alewives, as it is thought they hung a stick above their doorframe to indicate when they had ale to sell.
Some claim that the alewife’s broomstick is an association with the stereotype of a witch that we know today. Although the historical veracity of this is debateable, further comparisons have been drawn: alewives’ tall pointy hats enabled them to be visible in the crowd at market, they kept cats to keep mice away from their grains and of course, the bubbling cauldron was how they made their ales. Alewives used botanicals to preserve and flavour ales, sometimes with unexpected side effects. Psychoactive and aphrodisiac properties of these botanicals led to claims alewives were ‘bewitching’ their drinkers. In homage to these alewives (but without the psychoactive and aphrodisiac effects, as far as we know) we chose to add the botanicals heather and meadowsweet to our Gooseberry Wheat. These lend floral complexity and complement the tart fruitiness of the gooseberry.
We’re proud to work in the beer industry. We love what we do and we love beer. We hope that this XX brew gives visibility to women in the industry and encourages more women to take joy in making and drinking beer.
The beer with be available across the UK in bottle and on draft. It will be pouring in all Draft Houses (www.drafthouse.co.uk) on Thursday 8th March, International Women’s Day. There will also be launch parties celebrating the beer’s release across the UK:
Thursday 8th March – The Birdcage, Shoreditch, London, E2 7QB
Thursday 8th March – Dead Crafty Beer Co, Liverpool, L2 5TF
Saturday 10th March – Wiper and True Brewery, Bristol, BS2 9XT
We hope you’ll join us and #celebrateXX by toasting women everywhere on #internationalwomensday.
Wiper and True will be donating part of the profits from this beer to Bristol Women’s Voices, a charity that works to make women’s equality in Bristol a reality.