The latest beer to emerge from the Olds College brewmaster and brewery operations management program is a pale ale that owes its existence to a woman’s touch — or, more accurately, the touch of seven women.
Lisa Drapaka and six of her female classmates in the program recently created a beer they call Calamity Jane. The 5.8 per cent beverage, which comes in bottles and kegs, was unveiled Thursday in Just Jacks restaurant at the Pomeroy Inn & Suites at Olds College.
It will also be sold at the Olds College Brewery retail store, and possibly other outlets.
“Hopefully it’s going to be available at some spots in Calgary and Edmonton, and hopefully Red Deer too,” said Drapaka.
Fifteen per cent of the sales revenues from the 1,000-litre run will be donated to women’s charities, including the Pink Boots Society, which encourages and supports women in the beer industry.
In 2013, Drapaka was the only woman among the 26 students registered in the inaugural class of the two-year brewmaster and brewery operations management program. Last year’s intake of female students swelled to six.
Drapaka said she thought an all-women brewing project would be a good way for her to interact with her counterparts.
“I thought it would be fun to do something for International Women’s Day that we could all do together, because I don’t have any classes with them”
Program co-ordinator Peter Johnston-Berresford endorsed the idea, and the seven students set to work developing their recipe.
“We wanted to make something that us beer geeks would like but would also be accessible to not-so-beer-geeky people,” said Drapaka.
Working with college brewmaster David Mozel, and drawing upon their own brewing experiences and familiarity with the flavour profiles of various hops, the women developed a “late-hopped pale ale with a ton of flavour and aroma.”
Mozel persuaded them to scale production up 10-fold from the originally proposed 100 litres, said Drapaka.
The finished product was ready for sampling a few weeks ago, and it didn’t disappoint.
“I think we kind of nailed it with this one.,” said Drapaka. “We’re very happy.”
In fact, members of the brewing team now want to make the project an annual event. Drapaka would also like to see it expand to the male members of the program.
“I hope this encourages the men in the program to do something similar, for maybe a men’s charity.”
The Olds College Brewery has four regular beers in its rotation. Seasonal and special products like Calamity Jane are added periodically on a temporary basis.
Asked if her group’s new product might now displace one of the regulars, Drapaka pointed to a practical limitation.
“We went pretty heavy with a lot of the really nice hops to make it a special product, so I don’t know if the college could afford to make it every time,” she said with a laugh.