By Jenny Schmidt
Pink Boots, a non-profit created to assist, inspire and encourage women in the beer industry through education, has collaborated with the Yakima Chief Hops sales team to create 2020’s Pink Boots Hop Blend.
The ‘crazy’ project started with a casual conversation in the most obvious of places — a hop field. Searching for new ways to engage people within the brewing community, Mike Goettl, CEO of Yakima Chief, asked Pacific sales manager Kelly Lohrmeyer if she had any ideas. Lohrmeyer suggested collaborating with the Pink Boots Society. Things snowballed from there.
It is now a yearly tradition to develop a new blend of hops with Pink Boots members. The exclusive blend is then pelletised and shipped out to brewers all over the world to incorporate into their beer recipes. It frequently features in International Women’s Day brews.
The initial blend raised $30,000 for Pink Boots, with Yakima Chief Hops donating $3 for every pound sold. The following year the project raised $100,000 for the society’s scholarship programs.
The blend swiftly became Pink Boot’s biggest fundraiser, with 380 breweries in 14 countries participating in the 2019 Pink Boots Brew Day.
Over 100 women were involved in creating this year’s blend.
The hop selection took place during the Great American Beer Festival. Yakima Chief Hops delivered 18-20 fresh hop varieties, which attendees smelled and rubbed. They then used bottles caps to vote for their favourites.
After the field is narrowed down to the top hops, participants get to work experimenting with different combinations. The process is hands-on and everyone votes on the final blend. For many women it’s also an opportunity to interact with hops they might not to normally have access to, such as Idaho Gem — a new proprietary hop developed by sixth generation hop growers which will be making its first appearance in Australia as part of the winning blend.
The 2020 blend contains two parts Loral, two parts Idaho Gem, one part Azacca and one part El Dorado.
It exhibits characteristics of pineapple, citrus, a bit of spice, a touch of pine, and big tropical fruit aromas.
This year will also be the first time proceeds from Australian sales will go directly to the Pink Boots Australia chapter, with $6 from every kilo donated to scholarship programs. Previous PB scholarships have supported cicerone training, university courses, a German cultural exchange, and an international brew day in Belgium with women from around the globe uniting to brew beer together.
The Pink Boots Collaboration Brew Day takes place on International Women’s Day, 8 March 2020. However, there’s no restriction on when brewers can use the blend.