I’m tired.

I’m dog tired.

My calves and forearms are sore from carrying kegs and my brain has gone into hibernation.

I’m worn through from the top of my head to the soles of my feet.

And I couldn’t feel happier.

With Hop Culture’s first female-focused craft beer week — Beers With(out) Beards — in the books, I’m still trying to catch my breath and find time to muse on all of the wonderful sentiments and moments, all the amazing people I met, and all the dynamic discussions I had. In seven short days, we covered a lot of ground: From an engaging debate on Mary Izett’s Fuhmentaboudit podcast to hashing out how to Brew Change with pineapple NY to learning about The Role of Women in Beer history with Theresa McCulla of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to Beer Trivia with the Beerded Ladies to a packed house at Fifth Hammer Brewing Co. talking about Women Re-Writing the Business of Beer to starting conversations about gender disparity over bowls of ramen and Stone Brewing beer to finding our namaste with Beer Fit Club’s Beer + Yoga to discovering different beer styles with NY’s first female certified Cicerone, Anne Becerra. And of course, we shared a beer or two with so many rad women working in the industry at The Well on Saturday.

When I set out to organize Beers With(out) Beards, I wrote down two main goals.

1. To empower the role of all women in craft beer. And by “all women,” I meant all: From the casual drinkers and devoted quaffers to the ladies working in the front offices and pounding the pavements to the women pouring behind the bars and passing the certified Cicerone tests to those writing behind the scenes, broadcasting on air, and studying the history of beer to the ladies brewing professionally or at home.
2. To tangibly alter the scALES of women drinking beer and working in this industry.

While I feel the festival succeeded in both these areas, I know BW(O)B is just the beginning.

Through a week of events, we’ve started discussions that I hope people will take back into their own communities. The challenge now falls to everyone who attended to expand the scope of the event. For the past 10 months as I planned BW(O)B, I felt uncomfortable each and every day because I put myself out there into the wild world to be judged, to be critiqued, and to possibly fail. But, that’s how I knew that I was doing something right. You can’t change perceptions unless you have the courage to speak up. In the next year, I challenge you to do the same. What can you do to break barriers?

Can you write an article about a local woman you know in the industry? Can you plan a day to spend at a women-owned brewery and post about it on social media? Can you organize or join the local chapter of your Pink Boots Society? Can you gather up your friends and start your own club drinking and educating yourselves on different styles of beer? I can’t reiterate enough that we need to continue the conversation. The good news is that we don’t need to do it alone.

We’ll do it together.

On Saturday afternoon, as I avoided the rain with a gaggle of people underneath the big tent, I worried that Mother Nature had ruined everything. At least, until I looked around and saw that no one was leaving. Instead, people were smiling, talking, and drinking. Together, a strong bond had formed between all of us as we chose to stand our ground and support the achievements of women in craft beer. As we move forward, I’ll forever remember that moment of solidarity. Next year, I might even pray for rain.

Okay, maybe I won’t go that far.

Thank you to all of you who came out to an event, asked a question at a panel, took notes for your own research, engaged a brewer in a discussion, and shared a beer with a strong community.

Thank you to all of the fine folks who traveled far and wide to pour beer.

A huge thank you to all of the Hop Culture team who selflessly and tirelessly dedicated themselves to making BW(O)B a reality.

Most of all, thank you to all of the people who laughed at the rain, braved the closed L train, and continued to drink. Your dedication is what will move the needle.

We all love craft beer, so let’s huddle together, enjoy more beer, and feel a little uncomfortable every now and then as we continue to push the boundaries of this industry.

I look forward to toasting with you all again next year.

Grace Weitz, Marketing Manager, Hop Culture Magazine