Women can sometimes be invisible in the brewing world, where many head brewers are male — which makes The Lady Brewsters of the North Fork, a group of women who work in all facets of the East End beer sector, a unique squad. And a few weeks ago, they gathered at a Riverhead brewhouse to collaborate on an IPA to celebrate Women's History Month (in March) and benefit a local nonprofit.
"There's a stereotype that women don't drink beer, and that was one of the things fueling the collaboration," said Michelle Demetillo, hospitality and community manager at North Fork Brewing Co. in Riverhead. "We are all strong women who appreciate craft beer, who want to have an impact, empower one another and support our community."
Demetillo took the idea of a woman-brewed beer to North Fork Brewing's co-owners, Peter Barraud and Ian Van Bourgondien, "who were totally down for it." On Feb. 10, 10 barrels (about 300 or so gallons) of Lunar Ascent IPA were brewed at the Riverhead brewhouse with Barraud's guidance.
The beer has a decidedly offbeat profile: First, water was "charged' with black obsidian and moonstone, and then the IPA was brewed with locally grown Nugget hops, hibiscus tea and ginger. "It has an earthy and floral quality, and there's a nice marriage of different flavors," said Demetillo, who created the recipe with Christine McCormack, a brewer at Jamesport Farm Brewery, and Catie Callahan, who works in the cellar of Greenport Harbor Brewing. (Other collaborators came from Eastern Front Brewing Co. in Mattituck and Long Ireland Beer Co., Moustache Brewing Co. and ubergeek Brewing Co. in Riverhead)
Lunar Ascent will be released during a party on Wednesday at Digger's Ales 'n' Eats at 58 W. Main St. in Riverhead. Afterward, it will be on tap at the home breweries of those who collaborated — about two to three kegs in each spot, said Demetillo. Proceeds from pints of Lunar Ascent will benefit the Family Service League, an agency that operates dozens of social service programs throughout Suffolk County.
The kickoff Wednesday is the first of a monthlong string of 15 events to celebrate Women's History Month via the lens of beer, including a "Buti & Beer" yoga class and a trivia night. The schedule is at ladybrewsters.com.