For the second straight year, brewery marks International Women's Day with beers brewed by its female staffers

Among the many issues that surfaced in reporting on the multiple women who made sexual assault claims against Actual Brewing founder Fred Lee, the overall lack of female representation within the brewing industry remained a constant refrain.

“I think this has been just a heavily male-dominated industry for a couple of decades,” said Wolf's Ridge Brewing sales representative Jenna DiCicco. “We're definitely seeing more women enter the brewing side, as well as the selling and the marketing side of things in the brewing industry, which is really inspiring and exciting. And I think the more women you see enter the business, the more you'll see following in their steps.”

And with that, perhaps, continued cultural change within an industry that, at least locally, only recently experienced its first #MeToo moment. (Actual Brewing filed for bankruptcy following the February Alive report, and its Clintonville taproom remains closed.)

Considering the climate, the second Women's Brew tapping and release party at Wolf's Ridge, which coincides with International Women's Day and takes place at the Downtown brewery on Friday, March 8, carries additional weight.

“The Me Too culture has a place in every workplace. … You can't just blow it off like, ‘Oh, yeah. That's just what he does,' or, ‘That's just how this place is,'” DiCicco said. “You need to speak out. That's what draws a light on it to say, ‘It's not OK for this to happen.'”

To mark International Women's Day in 2018, the female staffers of Wolf's Ridge collaborated on a brew, Ladies Who Brunch, a hearty, booze-heavy imperial breakfast stout spiked with Ohio maple syrup, cinnamon, coffee, cacao nibs, vanilla and toasted coconut, among other ingredients. It was, DiCicco said, an effort to brew something big and bold, and also far removed from the “stereotypical fare” generally ascribed to women drinkers.

For 2019, the women of Wolf's Ridge have again brewed Ladies Who Brunch. But this year they've also collaborated on a second beer, Protegee, a table saison infused with strawberries. Both will be available on tap during the launch party; Ladies Who Brunch will also be sold in bottles.

DiCicco, who also helped craft the 2018 beer, said the experience was the first time many of the women had partaken in the brewing, and that taking charge of every step helped the women feel not only a deeper attachment to the process but to one another, as well.

“I think the idea for the beer all came from a place of wanting to celebrate the women that I have been fortunate to work with, and who make me feel empowered to do the work I do,” she said. “Getting to see some of our [female] servers and bartenders brew it last year and then serve it on Women's Day, you could tell there was more of a light in their eyes.”