Industry Inspiration: Craft Beer Girls Beer & Body

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”
– Coretta Scott King

For a number of years now, I have been fortunate enough to be part of the craft beer community. As I’ve mentioned so many times previously, there is something special about this community and its people, an overwhelming sense of acceptance and passion (and compassion) that I have never come across before or since.

While I am now fully immersed and engaged in this world, it certainly wasn’t always this way. When I first became interested in craft beer, I was very timid in regards to this crowd. The breadth of their knowledge and ability to discuss in-depth topics like yeast strains or style requirements resulted in me feeling very much out of my element.

As many of us do, I turned to the internet for answers. Being a Type A personality, I research when I feel inadequate regarding a topic. So I researched. But even that made me feel lost. There were so many differing opinions and technical verbiage,etc. that my head was spinning by the third article.

That is when I stumbled upon Craft Beer Girls Beer & Body. This group, originating on Facebook as a forum for women who share a passion for craft beer, welcomed me with open arms. It was as simple as a request to join and my entire outlook on the craft beer community was turned upside down.

I began, as I often do, as a quiet observer but soon became an active participant. It was hard not to engage though, to be honest, I could not really fathom what I was witnessing. I saw hundreds of different posts from women that ranged from a question about a beer they were thinking of sampling to someone posting a story about a mental health issue they were battling. As this was the internet, I kept waiting for a bully, a snide comment, or a troll. But, time and time again, without fail, I scrolled through dozens of uplifting and encouraging comments. Not a single negative or even slightly vicious comment to be found.

This was not just my first impression but has continued to ring true throughout my time in the group. Being both impressed and intrigued, I decided to ask the founder, Kate Christensen, about the origin of Beer & Body.

Kate explains that Craft Beer Girls Beer & Body sprang from her personal enjoyment of craft beer. “[I] grew up south of Cleveland, Ohio and my dad loved Great Lakes Brewing.  He got me into craft beer. I was a teacher and decided, after moving for my husband’s career several times, I wanted to do something I loved,so I started working at a brewery to learn more about craft beer. I just knew I loved it and it was something I was interested in learning more about.  I also like the laid-back vibe of the brewing world.  It’s a [lot] of hard work, and long hours but it’s a community that will accept you as you are.  I’m not a formal person and I’m super goofy (or so I think), so I needed to be in a community that could give me that daily.”

Kate adds, around the same time she began working in a brewery, Beer & Body was born. “I really just wanted a fun space for women who had craft beer in common.”

Beer & Body began as two sub-sections. The first is beer-centered, naturally. The second, however, is a fitness group that encompasses the “Body” part of the name. While this may seem counter-intuitive, Kate explains, “The fitness page really was a driving force [because] so many fitness groups or accounts (Instagram) were just not relatable for me.  I had a trainer tell me I couldn’t drink craft beer and workout.  So I felt like if I posted about drinking beer and working out, there could be some judgment.  I wanted a place for me and a place for other craft beer loving females to post real sweaty selfies and ask questions about real life things that we could all relate to.”

After those groups became increasing popular, sub-groups were created for each state. “The ladies wanted to meet their local B&B ladies so it was natural to create all the state groups to make it easier to connect.” 

From there, the momentum was unstoppable. Today, there is a sub-group for just about any topic one might want to discuss. Kate expresses, “I just want ladies to know it’s a whole community for them.  I encourage them to find our subgroups too and join one that they are interested in.  The subgroups are smaller, more intimate, and awesome for extra positivity, fun, and ideas in whatever it is you are interested in. Everything from Homebrew group to Books&Beer book club.”

Having a community that one can call their own within an even broader community is important, and has brought about a much fuller experience for me, personally. And while the craft beer community as a whole is very accepting and strives for equality, it is still difficult as women to get our foot in the door or to feel connected in this very male-dominated demographic. It can be frustrating and even lonely at times. Being able to turn to this group of well over 20,000 women is refreshing, not only for the feeling of connection, but for the variety of backgrounds and viewpoints these ladies bring to the metaphorical table.

I reached out for some specifics of what these wonderful women think of the group and what causes them to continue their participation. Overwhelmingly, the answer was the same: the community and the sense of acceptance. Many expressed that they felt they were able to be truly authentic and not fear judgement or shame. Some of the ladies explained to me that they were uncomfortable discussing beer with their friends because they did not drink and looked down on her. She commented it was freeing to be able to discuss her passions with people that understood. Personal stories were shared with me about acts of kindness from complete strangers to one another just because they saw a need and didn’t hesitate to step up. Again and again, the same words were used: support system, community, sisterhood. Kate echoes this sentiment, as well, when asked what her favorite thing about her creation has become: “The friendships, consistent kindness, support and real sense [of] team and community. We have THE best ladies ever!”

While this group continues to rapidly expand, Kate has a clear prerogative for the future. “We have to always remember to stay with our basics. I want it always to be a fun and safe space for craft beer ladies to share their lives and build friendships. Right now, we are focusing on BeerFriendships more than anything.  We are working on building the state groups and getting our ladies connected and into breweries together…If it’s in person or on Faceboook, it doesn’t matter. Bringing JOY to the lives [of] our B&B girls is #1 priority always.”

Beer & Body is also expanding past Facebook. The website is:

www.craftbeergirls.org   

This provides some wonderful information about the group but also a section of beer related shops- all owned and supported by members of Beer & Body. For instance, BrewerShirts provides logo apparel and Babe and The Beard offers other Beer & Body products.

Beer & Body can also be found on Instagram: @beerandbodycraftbeergirls  and each state has their own account. Beerandbody(state abrev).

While I used to scoff when anyone would use the phrase “found my tribe,” admittedly, since Beer & Body, I can’t help but say I get it. I honestly believe that a strong sense of community leads to a strong sense of self. I have grown as a person because of and along with these ladies. Especially in the age of the internet which seemingly divides so many, it gives me such hope to find examples of individuals building each other up in such genuine and meaningful ways.

So here’s to you, ladies.

Cheers.

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