Women Brewers Create "Makin Noise: A Pussy Riot Beer" for Trump Inauguration Day

Alyssa Hoberer (left), Betsy Lay, Katie Cochrane, Kelissa Hieber and Bess Dougherty are makin' noise.
Alyssa Hoberer (left), Betsy Lay, Katie Cochrane, Kelissa Hieber and Bess Dougherty are makin' noise.
Jonathan Shikes

Donald Trump will grab Lady Liberty by the pussy on January 20 when he becomes the 45th President of the United States, and Inauguration Day will be marked in many ways. Nearly half of the country will celebrate, while the rest will stand by with a mixture of anger, fear and anxiety.

That’s because Trump ran his campaign by belittling women and minorities, by preying on the most vulnerable segments in our country, like immigrants and gay people, and by mocking those with different views, different ethnicities, gender preferences, religions and cultural practices.

The result has been an outpouring of support for charitable organizations, something that a group of Colorado’s women brewers have decided to tap into by brewing a special beer.

On Wednesday, December 28, the women got together at Goldspot Brewing to make the first batch of Makin Noise: a Pussy Riot Beer. They’ll gather again over the next week at Lady Justice Brewing, 3 Freaks Brewing, Black Sky Brewing and Brewability Lab to do it again. Then, on January 20, all five breweries will tap the beer, an Imperial Saison, and donate a portion of the proceeds to local charities.

“We are standing up for each other,” says Kelissa Hieber, the head brewer and jack-of-all-trades at Goldspot Brewing. “That’s what this is about. We need to.”

Hieber and fellow Denver brewer Bess Dougherty organized the events after a suggestion that they brew something to protest Trump’s views. But the two women didn’t want to make the beer about Trump himself. “Was this sparked by his election? Yes. But in the end, it’s about groups who will be at risk under this administration, groups that are already under attack," Dougherty says.

To make sure that anyone who joined them understood that idea, the two brewers crafted a mission statement and posted it on a private Facebook group on December 6. It reads:

We felt it necessary to take action and decided to use our art to make our voices heard. We are coming out in support of those most at risk in our community and doing what we can to stand together as a united voice against hate and intolerance. This beer works to combat the hate and oppression while also lending support and solidarity to the fight for equality. We believe in this beautiful community, and we feel it is necessary to work together to protect it.We believe in an America that celebrates its diversity, an America that protects and supports anyone regardless of sexual orientation, gender, identity, race, religious views or immigration status. We condemn the hate that has always existed against marginalized groups, and we will not stand for the new strong wave hitting our country.

Bess Dougherty (left) and Kelissa Hieber use beer as their art.
Bess Dougherty (left) and Kelissa Hieber use beer as their art.
Jonathan Shikes

The beer takes its name from Pussy Riot, the Russian punk band and political activist performance group that spawned a movement that has gained new fans in the United States recently, Dougherty says. “The goal is to effect change through art with whatever tools you have. We are brewers, so our tool is beer.”

An imperial saison aged on ninety pounds of strawberry purée, that beer will come in at between 8 and 9 percent ABV. Dougherty and Heiber picked the style because fruit beers are typically associated with women, but they wanted to turn that notion on its head by making one that packs a punch. “It will look like a delicate beer, but it will knock you on your ass,” Dougherty says. It will also be bright red, which will tie it into the name as well — in an in-your-face, menstrual kind of way.

On Wednesday, Hieber and Dougherty were joined by Katie Cochrane, a Great Divide brewer who is moving to TRVE Brewing; Lady Justice co-owner Betsy Lay; Alyssa Hoberer, the former head brewer at Mu Brewery who is moving on to Dry Dock; and Jess Anderson, the head brewer at 3 Freaks.

But another forty or so women — most of whom work as brewers or in other jobs within the craft brewing industry — have joined the Facebook group, and many more have expressed interest. In fact, Dougherty, who worked at Wynkoop Brewing for four years, and Heiber were surprised by the overwhelming response they got to their first post on the subject in November. So many women wanted to participate that they were able to create four brew days.

“We were thrilled when we saw Bess’s post,” Lay says. “We had been planning to brew a beer called Madame President. But obviously that didn’t happen.”

“I saw her post and said, ‘That’s exactly what I want to do,’ Cochrane adds.

But not all of them were able to convince their employers to sign on, for a variety of reasons, so some have joined in their individual capacity. Cochrane, for example, says Great Divide simply wouldn’t have had the time and space to host a brew day. Others were afraid to get mixed up in the politics. “It’s tricky, as a company, to brew a political beer, because you are alienating some customers,” she says. And while beer is her art, she also understands that brewery owners are trying to make ends meet — and they are the ones who sign her paycheck.

Hieber isn’t concerned about possible blowback. “This is Denver. We aren’t going to lose much business,” she says, adding that Goldspot regulars already know that she is an outspoken progressive. “I will kick anybody out if they say something sexist or racist.” Plus, the mission statement she wrote with Dougherty is set up such in a way that if someone opposes it, it basically means “they are against people, they are against women," she adds.

The four charities they have picked are fairly mainstream as well: Goldspot will donate to One Colorado, an LGBTQ advocacy group; Black Sky to Planned Parenthood; Lady Justice to the ACLU; and 3 Freaks to Conservation Colorado, an environmental group. Lady Justice doesn’t have its own taproom, so its beer may be tapped at Black Sky. In addition, the Colorado Plus Brew Pub in Wheat Ridge plans to tap all four beers a week later, on January 28, and donate at least $1 per beer sale to a fifth charity.

Dougherty and Hieber believes the tappings will bring more attention to the beer and the idea, and they hope to keep the momentum going with more Pussy Riot beers.

“So many people felt so defeated and helpless after the election,” she says. “These are baby steps, but it’s a way to start doing something.”

Use Current Location

Related Locations

miles
Goldspot Brewing

4970 Lowell Blvd.
Denver, CO 80221

miles
Black Sky Brewery

490 Santa Fe Dr.
Denver, CO 80204

720-708-5816

www.blackskybrewing.com


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