Columbus chapter builds community of women craft beer drinkers

“The first beer I ever had that probably changed my life was a sour,” said Kristen Berry, who tried a beer called It's Something at Piece Brewery and Pizzeria in Chicago in 2008. “It was like a brown ale aged with cherries in a barrel and it tasted like a whiskey sour. I was like, ‘This is crazy that you can do this with a beer. … I really need to learn more.'”

Nearly 10 years later, Berry is co-leader of the Columbus chapter of Girls Pint Out, a national non-profit organization that encourages women to gather for social, educational and charity events tied to the craft beer industry.

“Our focus is bringing women into the beer community,” said Berry, who, along with co-leader Emily Donahue, will host “Girls Help Out,” a menstrual product drive, at Grain + Grape in Bexley on Thursday, Aug. 17. “That's a community that traditionally tends to be a little bit more male-dominated.”

“It's cool how the social norm is changing,” said Donahue, a home-brewer with hopes of working in the brewery industry in the future.

Founded in Indianapolis in 2010, Girls Pint Out now boasts over 100 chapters nationwide. Since 2013, the Columbus branch has been hosting monthly events throughout the city: a social at Actual Brewing Company on the North Side, a tour and music bingo at Zaftig Brewing Co. in Worthington and an annual Christmas Beer tasting at either the Clintonville Studio 35 Cinema or Grandview Theater drafthouses, to name just a few examples.

“We [also] had a ‘Brew Day' at North High Brewing,” Berry said. “It was just four hours of hanging out. … That's a ton of bonding experience. You really get to talk to the people [and] you really get the time to know them.”

Berry said attendance ebbs and flows between about five women and the approximately 50 expected to attend the second-annual “Girls Help Out,” which benefits the Van Buren Center, a homeless shelter. Last year, the drive generated 210 packs, or 6,718 total products.

“I don't think that people realize that since no government program like SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] or WIC [Women, Infants, and Children] covers menstrual products, this is a monthly need,” Berry said. “We wanted to do something to help that awareness.”

Berry and Donahue have also partaken in other charity events, including partnering with another local women's craft beer group, Brews 'n Betties, for a drive benefiting domestic violence victims. They are also hoping to host a national Girls Pint Out event at BrewDog's new U.S. taproom and restaurant in Canal Winchester next year.

But above all else, Berry and Donahue want to inspire more women to drink and learn about craft beer, and work in breweries.

“There is a place for them in the industry,” Berry said.