The idea for Witch Hunt started as many good ideas do: over a beer. The first brew day was a one-off initiated over the bar with Allyson Rolph. Williams and Rolph were chatting about how access to the brewery as a learning environment isn’t always made possible to brewery employees, and, mid-discussion, Rolph offered up her brewhouse as a classroom.
In November 2016, a group of beer industry friends traveled to Superior, WI to brew with Allyson Rolph. Aside from being an accomplished brewer, Rolph was a steady, confident guide. With humor, patience, and a dash of badassery, Rolph steered the crew through two days of brewing and recipe creation. Each step paved the way for a beer named Pantsuit.
On October 9, 2017, at Fair State Brewing Cooperative, the crew came together again to craft The WitchHunt — a Cascadian dark ale with the ever watchful Katie Nolan. Then on Saturday, February 10, at Surly Brewing Company’s Brooklyn Center facility, Witch Hunt met for their third brew day. This time, instead of a handful of women, there were 38-plus—as well as a few men, some there to help brew; all there because they, too, wanted in on the conversation about gender equality in the beer world. Since then, the crew has been taking names and making plans to smash antiquated gender roles in craft beer.
“Witch Hunt” is often used in a negative context, referring to false accusations and seeing demons where there are none. Some would argue the gender disparity in the brewing industry is a non-issue; that if women wanted to make beer, they’d already be doing it. But, this narrow view fails to acknowledge the current patriarchal status quo that hinders the professional development of women in highly technical and physically demanding fields such as craft beer.
Throughout history, women traditionally have produced beer — and like knowledge, beer is power. When activities, jobs, and systems are codified by gender it stifles growth and innovation. We know the gender of a brewer means nothing when it comes to the quality of a brew. We know women and non-binary folx have the drive to succeed in craft beer and our goal is to facilitate their success.
WE ARE INTENTIONALLY SEEKING YOU — HUNTING YOU, AS IT WERE — BECAUSE WE LOVE BEER AND WE BELIEVE THE CRAFT BEER INDUSTRY IS BETTER WITH YOU IN IT.