by Eric Ginsburg
Craft beer, unfortunately, can be a real sausage fest.
Peek into a brew house, stop by a homebrewers club or hit up a special bottle release line and you’re bound to see a room dominated by men. Actually, you might not see women at all.
It’s easy to find think pieces about how and why the scene is dominated by dudes — white dudes, in particular — and just as easy to find men making excuses for the state of affairs. But what’s more interesting than either phenomenon is a national organization operating with about 70 chapters in 35 states that proactively counteracts that trend.
And there’s one here, of course.
Girls Pint Out started in Indiana with the goal of “building a community of women who love craft beer” — both a way to hold space in a world spilling over with mansplainers and beer bros and also to help women break into it.
For Carmen Allred, a bartender at Potent Potables who helps run the Triad chapter of the group, Girls Pint Out is a chance to introduce more women to craft beer and create a comfortable, nonjudgmental environment where women can come together to learn more about it. With public events that include beer style tastings, brewery tours and charitable fundraisers, the organization hopes to foster a welcoming space that busts up the concept that beer is a boys club.
Allred, 26, is a certified beer server studying to become a cicerone — think sommelier, but for beer. Together with Sarah Stephens, an archeologist, she runs the Triad chapter of Girls Pint Out, which held its first event in a while at Gibb’s Hundred Brewery in Greensboro last week. Now the pair aims to hold bimonthly events, including an upcoming brewery tour at Four Saints in Asheboro.
As a bartender, Allred derives pleasure in helping people who think they don’t like beer discover something they can enjoy. Maybe it’s a low alcohol, fruity radler, or they could be looking for something more akin to a saison. But whatever it is, she’s confident it’s out there.
After fielding a couple questions, she paused to take a picture of her Graf pale ale from Draft Line Brewing in Fuquay-Varina, NC, so she could check-in on beer app Untappd. That put her at 2,344 unique beers — an indication of just how serious she is about beer.
It’s one of her three obsessions, she confessed after I noticed her “TS 1989” sunglasses — Taylor Swift, beer and Disney. Allred actually worked at Disney World, and dreams of returning in some sort of beer capacity. She also dreams of going on a “beercation” or a “beer pilgrimage” some day, to Belgium if possible, but in the meantime she drags her husband along to bottle releases at her favorite North Carolina brewery, Fonta Flora, and sings the praises of Haw River, Burial and Wicked Weed.
Allred sounds like pretty much every other North Carolina beer nerd I’ve talked with, save for maybe the stuff about Taylor Swift and Disney, but there’s no air of pretension. She doesn’t assume you’re clueless about beer, but avoids diving into the sort of insider baseball crap that turns people off. In other words, she seems like a good person to help an organization aimed at winning craft beer converts and creating a fun and nurturing learning environment.
It’s not uncommon for Allred to meet a woman who drinks beer who feels like she’s one of the only ones — at a base level, Girls Pint Out is a chance for people like that who feel alienated by a scene that is too frequently dominated by brotatos. (I just made that up but it’s kind of wonderful, isn’t it?) There’s no membership process or fee; the idea is to be as open and accessible as possible, and though it’s targeted at those who identify as women, they’re technically open to all comers.
The local chapter had admittedly fallen into a state of disuse last year, and what had been a statewide organization splintered into regional chapters. But when Stephens moved to Greensboro almost a year ago from South Carolina — where she had already been active in Girls Pint Out — she hooked up the jumper cables and helped rev the engine back to life.
April seemed like a natural time to reemerge; it’s North Carolina Beer Month. And by the time May arrives, the new iteration of the local chapter may have three events under its belt.
Here’s to hoping the engine keeps running, and that they deliver the swift kick in the rear that the local scene needs.
Find the Triad Girls Pint Out at facebook.com/ncgpo or @triadgpo on Instagram and Twitter.