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Minnesota female brewers gather to inspire industry changes, create new beer

In 2019, the Brewer’s Association reported only 7.5% of the 8,391 craft breweries in the United States employed a female in a brewer role.

BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. — Minnesota's beer scene is quickly growing.

But the number of women making beer is still lagging way behind.

In Minnesota, there are around 21 brewers that identify as female and work at one of the now 205 breweries across the state.

Three of them work at Surly Brewing Co. in Minneapolis. Shannon Stroh was the first. On Friday, at Surly's Brooklyn Center production facility, she was making her unique recipe. 

"The malt is going to be a little bit of sweet and red wheat to get a caramel backbone to it," said Stroh. 

The new beer's name, Definitive Few, is representative of the small group Shannon is part of. Two years ago there were only about eight female brewers in Minnesota.

"To be the first and now there's more and also it's nice to relate," said Stroh. "It's nice to have another woman around."

"When people think of beer, they think of white bearded men, they don't think of women in this industry," said Ariel Keeton, a brewer at Badger Hill Brewing in Shakopee who is trying to change the industry. "At first I think I was a little discouraged just because there were so few of us, but at the same time it’s pretty empowering that the few of us here are starting something."

She started an all-female brew day back in March for International Women's Day. The now bi-annual event hosts women brewers from across the state who collaborate to make a new beer every six months.

The women there Friday were from eleven breweries.

"We get to nerd out about our equipment, our processing, and just get excited about it," said Keeton.

Their newest beer, Shannon's IPA, uses hops from the southern hemisphere. It's bringing together new flavors and new friends trying to make their way to the top of the craft beer industry.

It will take some time before Shannon's beer is fully ready. Surly Brewing Co. plans to release it at a party near the end of October.

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