International Women’s Day 2019: Brewing beer and doing good

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Chelsea McCloskey-Lambert is an Associate Director of Medical Writing at the Havas Lynx Group. This year, for International Women’s Day, she volunteered her time to help two local charities and organisations by brewing a very special craft beer. In this blog, Chelsea shares her experience of the day and why she wanted to get involved.

Back in late November 2018, I was volunteering at the local Independent Salford Beer Festival. A not-for-profit event that not only showcases great craft beer from around the country, but also supports a local charity called Start Salford. It was here, whilst pouring many a great beer, that I met Hannah Davidson, the Sales Manager for Manchester’s Marble Brewery. My clear love of all things Manchester and hoppy led her to invite me to work with some pretty cracking ladies in the beer industry in the North West, who were planning to collaborate on International Women’s Day 2019 (IWD2019) to brew something interesting. The aim being to raise awareness of the plethora of awesome women working behind the scenes in the beer industry and to also use this as an outlet to do something for a local charity/organisation in need of support. Of course, I said yes.

After a few meetings throughout the colder months of the year (accompanied by beer, naturally), we decided on a few key aspects for the brew day and beyond. Firstly, beer style was pretty key – an IWD collaboration brew (IWCBD) beer, brewed by beery women, needed to not be a distinctly ‘girly beer’. So absolutely nothing pink or fruity!

Big, bold styles were suggested, like imperial stouts, however the consensus was something that was unusual yet accessible would be more exciting. Another consideration was the theme for this year’s global IWCBD: ‘Forage’. Our harsh winter had left little growing for the foraging aspect. So thinking outside the box, we decided on a farmhouse pale, nice and accessible at 4.8% ABV – with a funky surprise lurking for later on!

As IWD2019 drew closer, our planning began for which local charities and organisations to support with this initiative. Two really stood out to us as extremely worthwhile causes we were all ready to get behind. These were the Pankhurst Trust and the Every Month Campaign.

There truly is no greater time to raise the profile of the great work the Pankhurst Trust do, with the women’s suffrage memorial statue of Emmeline Pankhurst unveiled in St Peter’s Square in December 2018 – marking 100 years since women received the right to vote. The Pankhurst Centre is the birthplace of the suffragette movement and home to the only museum in the UK dedicated to women’s suffrage. The historic building is also the headquarters of Manchester’s Women’s Aid. With 7.9% of women in the UK experiencing domestic abuse in the last year, the work this organisation does is vital. Proceeds from the beer sales will be donated to supporting the great work this charity does.

Period poverty has been widely covered in the news recently. There are many campaigns across the country raising the profile of this avoidable issue, however the Every Month Campaign are a Manchester-based organisation committed to tackling period poverty here in Greater Manchester. With 10% of UK school girls unable to afford or unable to access sanitary products, >135,000 children miss days of school as a result of period poverty, impacting both their learning and development. And this is only those in education.

Period poverty extends to further beyond the school age bracket. In 2019, it is my belief that no woman should be made to use unhygienic items (like t-shirts or paper towels), risking their health, during menstruation purely due to cost or access. Every month, volunteers work to create discreet period packs (from monetary/product donations) to distribute these to more than 800 women in need throughout the city.

I’m fortunate enough to work for a company, that when they heard of what I was planning to be involved in for IWD2019 immediately responded with ‘how can we help?’. In the weeks leading up to IWD2019, I called upon the generous nature of my colleagues to help me out. Placing donation boxes around the offices and requesting product donations to bolster those of the IWCBD women. My colleagues didn’t disappoint!

Along with the donations from the preceding weeks, the Lynx ambassadors joined forces with me for an IWD2019 Friday drinks trolley take-over. Decked in red and white, they wheeled the drinks trolley round the office, mixing Bloody Marys and collecting donations. In a little over 1.5 weeks, we managed to collect £211.70 and a little over 365 packs of sanitary towels and tampons for donation to Every Month!

Finally, back to the beer.

Whilst all that excitement was happening back at the office, I was at the Cloudwater Brewery with all the other amazing women in industry brewing the beer, taking part in an inspirational discussion with the head of the Pankhurst Trust and going all ‘mad scientist’ over the brewery equipment and lab! Remember I mentioned the funky twist? Well, the beer is actually being split and two varieties will be produced for your drinking pleasure.

The fresh version should be ready shortly, late April or early May 2019. To meet the brief of ‘Forage’, and work WITH the UK winter, the remainder is being barrel-aged in red wine barrels and fermented with wild yeasts cultured from things the women at the brew day foraged and brought to the brewery on IWD2019 (including some apple tree, various berry vines, rhubarb and alpine strawberries from my backyard that I foraged and brought along!). This will be aged and then bottled – hopefully to be released for International Men’s Day to be enjoyed by everyone (it’s in November before you ask).

So, if you’re keen on drinking beer and supporting the fantastic work of local initiatives and charities, keep your eyes on the social media of craft beer people and keep on the lookout in local craft beer venues around Manchester. Shortly you will be able to pick yourself up a pint that has been brewed by the amazing women of the North West in the craft beer industry (and me) and that also supports extremely worthy local organisations.

For me, the idea that brewing beer, something that unites and brings people together, could in some small way help and raise the profile of these organisations (and draw attention to the many hardworking women in the beer world) is pretty bloody cool! Thanks also to the Havas Lynx Group, for letting me take the time out of my work schedule to be a part of something like this. It definitely wasn’t like any other usual work day for me and I loved every minute; I’m looking forward to the next steps once the beer is ready.

We can’t release the name or logo yet, but trust me – it is distinctly Emmeline and distinctly Manchester – you won’t be able to miss it!

To find out more about The Pankhurst Trust, click here.