|The West Chester Beer Ladies with Brewer Larry (back right) and Brewer Mike (front left)|
On Saturday, April 14, The West Chester Beer Ladies woke up, donned their most appropriate rain boots for the job, and met at Iron Hill West Chester to brew the honey saison that will be released on May 10 to benefit the Home of the Sparrow. Aptly named, Sparrow Saison will be a perfect seasonal beer, with a light color, a hint of honey...and a unique flavor that can only come from the loving touch of the ladies as we carefully stirred and measured with Larry and Mike brewing the beer.
The Beer Ladies have met several times since group was formed in 2010. We've had tastings, food and beer pairings and other meet-ups aimed at having a great time focused on craft beer. But never have we brewed. Sure, we have some home brewers among us, but the opportunity to work with professional brewers in a commercial setting was something we couldn't resist. And it all started with an email.
One day, while traveling in Pittsburgh (the home of our Western PA outpost -- the Pittsburgh Beer Ladies), Colleen Perrin received an email from Larry Horwitz, who is the regional brewer for Iron Hill Restaurants. As an aside, for those who may not be familiar with Iron Hill, this is a fantastic brewpub in the Philadelphia area with amazing food and world-class beer. He offered the Beer Ladies and opportunity to collaborate -- something related to brewing and meeting at the restaurant. Let's talk, he said.
So we did. And from that discussion one evening over a freshly brewed and poured Iron Bound Ale, we came up with the plan. We would invite the Beer Ladies and the female members of the Iron Hill Mug Club to an event where we would announce the type of beer we will brew together. We would also decide upon a charitable organization where we would donate proceeds from the beer. Next, we would brew the beer...together. And finally we would release the beer with another event for the Beer Ladies.
Prior to embarking on this three-phase plan, the Beer Ladies met at The Flying Pig in Malvern, a great little bar with a comfortable atmosphere and excellent beer selections, to decide upon the beer we would brew.Then on March 28, the ladies met at Iron Hill to announce the beer type, and to meet Larry and his wife Whitney (who by the way, was a brewer and Quality Assurance manager at Victory Beer...imagine their dinner conversations, not to mention beer selections!)
Finally, a small group (above) took part in the brewing on April 14 and had one of the best beer experiences we could imagine. We took part in each process of the brewing, including one of the most important and fun.. drinking tank beer. Ok, perhaps that wasn't essential to the brewing process. I mean, it wasn't even the beer we were brewing. It was not-quite-ready versions of Iron Hill's delicious Vienna Red Lager and their Maibock. Nonetheless, it was a lot of fun and it certainly enhanced our experience by mingling the smells of the process with the tastes of the beer.
Now we wait. Well, we can also visit the bar and look through the glass at fermenter #4 where our beer will rest until it is released. I can tell you, I just may do that.
Be sure to come and taste our Honey Saison, which will be released on May 10 at 6pm at Iron Hill West Chester. If you are a lady in Chester County or nearby, and would like to join our club or just check it out at the release event, feel free. Information about our group can be found here or on our Facebook page.