The Society of Beer Drinking Ladies is bringing their extremely popular Bevy beer event here to Ottawa on April 14th at the Allsaints Event Space. What’s great about these events is they work to expand the boundaries of what a ‘beer drinker’ is. In that I am basically a Shutterstock image of “guy at beer event,” I can attest that pushing for more diversity in the industry is fantastic and Cheers to this group of ladies for leading the charge.
The group has been active in Toronto for five years, throwing sociables at local venues and breweries. Five local and five guest breweries, plus a cidery, will be on hand at SODBL’s first Ottawa Bevy, with food provided by Craft Beer Market. The SOBDL swag shop and an all-women artisan market will pop up at the venue. As with all SODBL parties, the event is a safe and inclusive space, welcoming to the LGBTQ, transgender communities and all who identify as women. Attendees receive a welcome beer upon arrival and a “morning after” gift to bring home.
Founding members and brewery-industry vets, Erica Campbell, Jaime Dobbs and Jen Reinhardt, were kind enough to explain how the SOBDL came to be, where their society is going and why it’s important to create space for women and non-binary folks to socialize and drink.
On where it all started?
Jen: SOBDL started with Erica, back in late 2013, who had an idea to start a monthly meet up for women with a passion for craft beer.
Erica: We were all into it, so we began the planning process around a bottle-share (a common event among beer enthusiasts, everyone brings a bottle of interesting beer and everyone shares) with women in the industry, to be hosted at Jaime’s apartment! We put tickets on sale for Bevy 0001 and, before we knew it, we had sold 100 tickets! 100 women are very much NOT going to fit into one of our Toronto apartments, so we needed to become ‘legit’ right off the bat… we rented the Jam Factory space in Toronto’s East End, purchased an SOP from the LCBO, bought a whack load more beer… It was a really neat feeling to see our idea explode. I guess women really do like beer, huh?!
Jaime: We created monthly bevies, on the last Friday of every month. We built out quirky rituals, like how sometimes the venue is a secret until 48 hours before the event, our ‘Men allowed after Midnight’ policy, our ‘Bevy Loyalty Stamp Card,’ our ‘Morning After Hangover Bag’ program and our ‘volunbeer’ program. We realized quickly that there was a large contingent of women in the Toronto area who LOVED beer, were interested in beer or who “wanted” to love beer! So many women told us they had been drinking beer for years and FINALLY there was a safe, welcoming, fun and inclusive space to meet other beer drinking women.
Erica: We have built a space which is about so much more than the beer, although we do have GREAT beer!
On the SOBDL’s goals:
Jen: We want to create community. We want to be a sustainable event women come back to time and time again. We want to foster and grow women. And we want to keep being the leader in all things women & beer in the province. Oh, and we want to continue to do good: so far we have raised over $35,000 for the Canadian Women’s Foundation.
On supporting women in the brewing industry:
Erica: I’d like to be optimistic, I do think there are way more female bar owners, female co-owned breweries and females in sales, social media, marketing, than seven years ago, when we started in the industry. So that’s exciting and promising. But we do think that women brewers are lacking in this province, and it’s rare to find a female head brewer or female brewmaster. This mirrors the issue in the STEM fields and I think it’s important to continue to talk about it and see what creative solutions there could be for bringing women into the brewhouse!
On choosing Ottawa as the first non-TO bevy site:
Erica: We have been thinking about hosting events in other cities for some time. We get a ton of requests each year from all across North America to bring the SOBDL to them! Ottawa made sense because it is the Nation’s Capital and has a large beer scene to support what we’re doing. We have good friendships with the women at Beau’s and other breweries/bars. It kinda just made sense, right place at the right time. We were also blown away with the reception we got at Beau’s Oktoberfest last year. We set up a merch booth in Vankleek Hill and chatted with a lot of amazing people. I feel like 1-in-3 people were like “OMG this is so cool, can you bring this to Ottawa!?” It was motivating and inspiring, so after that we began putting the wheels into motion.
Jen: Honestly, we haven’t fleshed out what the long term plan is for Ottawa. We’re piloting it on April 14th and if you ladies all buy tickets and it’s a very successful event, then by all means, we will be back! We also want to find our Ottawa ladies who will start to take the reins and run with it.
Erica: We are excited to roadtrip to Ottawa in a month or so and bring our Bevies to the Nation’s Capital. We hope you like it and we thank everyone for the great response so far on our social channels. We were able to lock in all our vendors really quickly too: when we told them we were coming to Ottawa, there was a resounding “YES! COUNT ME IN!” We have also already filled the 20+ volunbeer positions we needed to fill to allow our event to run smoothly. We hope you can make it out! OttawaBevy0001.eventbrite.ca for tickets (wooo cheap plug!)
No better way to close out the interview than with a “cheap plug”!