Writer / Jessica Lollino
As Indiana grows closer to becoming a craft brewing behemoth like Michigan, more and more people are getting hip to the hops. Women especially are a part of the craft beer revolution, both as appreciators and creators.
We sat down to talk to two leading women in Indiana craft beer, Amanda Wishin from Girls Pint Out and Eilise Lane from Scarlet Lane Brewing Company, to bring a little more awareness to the feminine firepower in Indiana beer.
Most people don’t know what Girls Pint Out is or that it even exists. Seven years young and with 104 chapters around the country, Girls Pint Out is a way for women to come together and learn more about something they love — beer. Amanda Wishin, Indianapolis Chapter Head and National Girls Pint Out President, is the tsunami-like force that took a women’s beer group and grew it into something so much more over the last few years.
One of the significant changes is the new 501(c3) status, which is something she is not only proud of, but is part of the new mission of the group: “Girls Pint Out wants to build a community of women who love craft beer and are involved in the craft beer community. Beyond planning events, we try to get people involved in a lot of other ways like volunteering.”
They also offer other women’s interest events in addition to beer education and volunteerism like “Damsel in Defense,” which provides self-defense training to members.
Membership is informal (just ‘like’ their Facebook page), free, and exposes members to the very best and some of the most unique events the city has to offer. A personal favorite is “Beer, Coffee, and Donuts” which take place on a chilly autumn Saturday morning and features pairings of coffee-infused brews with donuts and pastries.
Responsible for planning and flawlessly executing a packed calendar of events, Wishin says, “I am always amazed by how far breweries will go to help GPO and what sort of events they will put together. So many breweries have made a special beer for us, or made a one-off, or put together an education that took a lot of time and effort. I have never dealt with anyone who hasn’t been super supportive of Girls Pint Out.”
One of those breweries is the female-headed Scarlet Lane Brewery Company.
Talking to Eilise Lane, the CEO and Head Brewer of Scarlet Lane Brewing Company is an education in itself. A self-described “English geek,” her brewery is a magical marriage of literature, mythology and, well, outstanding beer. The name of the brewery, Scarlet Lane, is named after Lane’s dog, whose name is inspired by Scarlett O’Hara of Gone with the Wind. Lane says of her favorite heroine which shares the brewery name, “Scarlett O’Hara is a huge inspiration; she’s just so strong. She said, ‘I’ll just think about it tomorrow,’ and I get that. I really get that.”
Eilise isn’t doing too much putting off until tomorrow in grand O’Hara style in her demanding dual role as she creates both innovative and crowd-pleasing beers at what seems like an impressively expedient pace. She does, however, occasionally meet a few raised eyebrows and suspicious glances as a female Head Brewer.
”I think being a female in the business, you have a lot of people watching over your shoulder making sure you are the brewer,” Lane said.
Naysayers and doubters can pop by her taphouse and see her in her element immersed in her labor of love – brewing. But the job doesn’t end there.
“You work 12, 14-16 hour days when you are the Head Brewer and CEO,” Lane said. “You do that multiple days a week. You crisscross the country trying to make beers with other people that are like-minded, and you come back to the state and also brew with people who also have that like-minded idea.”
A lover of collaboration, she believes that camaraderie, not rivalry, is the key to making great beer. Natural ingredients, not extracts, are also critical and are true to what brewing truly is. Her actual brewing philosophy is quite simple.
“I like to make beers I want to drink that other people want to drink with me,” she said.
Her flagship beer, the beloved Dorian Stout, was a bold choice for a new brewery that is now getting ready to celebrate its third anniversary and is reflective of Lane’s bold and intoxicating character. She lovingly works on her beers, developing their unique personalities and finding layers of complexities within each. It is not uncommon to see evolved versions of her favorites, like the Dorian Stout, with new and different flavors exposing its multifaceted nature. The mythology of each and every one of her beers, beginning with the names and ending with the labels with hidden images of her dog, Scarlett, gives each beer its uniqueness and exhibits complete artistic unity.
Plainly, this is craft beer that engages an enthusiast with not only its taste but the entire creative process with which it is created.