Happy International Women’s Day!
Today (and really every day) we at Carillon Brewing Company celebrate the long history of women and beer. For most of time in just about every culture, women were the ones who brewed beer. In ancient times many cultures regarded these women brewers (brewsters) as being goddesses due to their power to transform grains into drink. The drink they produced was vital to the life and success of the community. It was a way of preserving the grains’ calories for a later day. Since the brewing process involves boiling, the drink was also a cleaner source of hydration than early wells. Without the hard work of brewing that these brewsters endured often weekly, or in some cases daily, much of the world’s history would not have been possible.
Most of America’s housewives took on the duty of brewing. Each week the woman of the house would have set aside a day to turn grain from her husband’s fields into ale. The ale would have in turn supplied the whole family–yes, even the children–with something to drink from sun up to sundown. Much like baking bread or churning butter, brewing beer meant producing food for the family.
Over time as cities grew, men left the fields and began working in city centers. This workforce however still required hydration. Since it wasn’t considerd proper for a woman to work outside of the home, the role of brewing was taken on by men. These men opened early breweries to supply the need for a clean drink.
In Dayton’s history, like many other towns across America, women owned breweries. Frequently, the case was that after their husbands died, they took on ownership and management. For example, Agnes Schwind ran the Main Street Brewery from 1867 until it closed in 1883 after her husband died. The same was also true with Christine Schwind who headed up the Schwind Brewing Company in 1893. Then in 1902, Anna Hollencamp took over the Hollencamp Ale Brewing Company after her husband passed away. She continued running the brewery which produced 5,000 barrels a year of ale.
We are pleased to have our brewster, Tanya Brock, lead the business and the brewing in our brewery as a means to continuously celebrate the history of these women.
We raise our mug to the women whose profession was brewing for her village. We raise a mug to the mothers who brewed weekly to nourish her family. We raise a mug to the women who are part of the modern brewing industry contributing to the economy, culture, and identity of their communities.