The fifth-annual Beers With(out) Beards Festival, celebrating women in beer, is coming Saturday to Brick South at Thompson’s Point in Portland.

“We feel Portland has a very legitimate claim to ‘Beer Capital, USA,’” said Grace Weitz, managing editor of Hop Culture, about why the online craft beer magazine chose the city to host the event.

She recalled a festival that Hop Culture hosted at Mast Landing Brewing Co. in 2019. “We had an absolute blast, eating and drinking our way through town,” Weitz said, adding that she has been “salivating over a biscuit with jam from Tandem Coffee I ate years ago” and plans to make the bakery her first stop. “And I’m not sure it can get much better than eating a lobster roll and drinking an Allagash White after a day of stand-up paddleboarding or hiking.”

Enticed by great food culture, natural beauty and “a city overflowing with incredible breweries,” Hop Culture is back to host another festival. There will be over 100 beers from 35 breweries. To participate in the festival, breweries need to be owned by women or femme-identifying people, employ them in prominent leadership positions, or be active and consistent advocates for women and femme-identifying people within the industry.

“It’s a festival for everyone asking to be heard in a predominantly white, male industry,” said Weitz, the festival’s founder. “I wanted to create a space where everyone across the spectrum of gender felt safe gathering to enjoy beers together.”

A number of Maine breweries will be there, including Allagash, Austin Street, Bissell Brothers, Liquid Riot, Nonesuch River, Olive Pit and Rising Tide. Mainers will also get the chance to try beers from breweries as far-flung as Shōjō Beer Company (from Miami), Independence Brewing Co. (Austin), Superstition Meadery (Prescott, Arizona), Hana Koa Brewing Co. (Honolulu) and Japas Cervejaria (São Paulo, Brazil).


There are two sessions, with the first starting at 11 a.m. and the second at 5:30 p.m. And for each, there are two classes of tickets. A general admission ticket, for $65, provides access to 3 1/2 hours of unlimited sampling. The more upscale option, at $150, gets you an extra hour of tasting, access to a VIP section, and beer-and-food pairings hosted by Allagash Brewing. There will be live music and food as well. Proof of vaccination is required for all visitors.

The first two BW(O)B festivals were held in Brooklyn in 2018 and 2019. It was then forced to go online in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID pandemic. Austin Street was also part of the last in-person festival in New York, where production manager Lisa Kellndorfer represented the brewery. “It was my first time attending an event that focused on women in beer,” she recalls, “and it was incredible to look around and see mostly women representing their breweries and even more special to connect with them.”

Diversity and inclusion have been significant concerns in recent years for craft beer. When brewer Brienne Allan – then of Notch Brewing in Salem, Massachusetts, and now in the process of opening Sacred Profane Brewing in Biddeford – asked followers if they had experienced sexism in the beer industry on her Instagram account last May, a virtual flood of responses followed, chronicling women’s stories of everyday misogyny, racism, sexual harassment and sexual assault. And many of those offenses occurred at, or around, beer festivals.

In response, Allan created the Brave Noise project. Participating breweries submit a code of conduct and publish it for staff and customers, brew Brave Noise Pale Ale, donate to a nonprofit committed to inclusivity, and commit long-term to creating inclusive and safe environments for employees and visitors. Eleven Maine breweries have, or will, brew Brave Noise before the project wraps up at the end of the year.

Austin Street is one of those breweries, something Kellndorfer is quite proud of. “It was an honor to participate because Brave Noise raised the bar for global collaboration efforts and required real action and change in order to make this beer. It has already sparked a change in how we select future partnerships and events.”

One of those, of course, is BW(O)B, which Kellndorfer and Austin Street joined up with again after reviewing the festival’s code of conduct. According to Weitz, the festival has been working to assure that the festival is a safe and inclusive space for all attendees – something that has not necessarily been the norm for beer festivals, generally speaking, in the past. The organizers have enhanced BW(O)B’s code of conduct; partnered with #NotMe, a free online platform for reporting harassment and discrimination; and trained with Safe Bars, a nonprofit whose mission is to prevent sexual harassment and assault through bystander intervention.


The Maine chapter of the Pink Boots Society – an organization that promotes women’s involvement in the beer industry – is another festival partner. And Her ALS Story, a group that represents women diagnosed with ALS before their 35th birthday, will receive a portion of ticket sales.

Joining the big names at the BW(O)B festival will be newcomer Olive Pit Brewing Co. out of Lisbon Falls. Christy Cain, co-owner and head brewer at Olive Pit, saw the ad for the festival in early January, right about when her brewery was opening. She reached out to the organizers and received an invitation to the event.

Creating a “culture of connection and community” is a priority for Cain and Olive Pit. To become a “community center” requires offering a broad range of styles to meet people’s tastes. Cain notes the dominance of hop-centered beers these days. The bitterness that is often a trademark of hop-forward ales is less appealing to Cain and many other women she knows. So, while the brewery is not specifically targeted to women, the beers they offer might appeal to other drinkers who share this aversion.

Even so, Cain is committed to creating a brewery experience that is welcoming to all. She enjoys sitting down with visitors and talking about the beer. “We try to approach everyone on their level of beer knowledge,” she says, to make experts and novices comfortable and “to remove that exclusive club feeling that intimidates some people.”

She is particularly excited about the Beers With(out) Beards Festival. It will be the new brewery’s first participation in a beer festival. But as significantly, it will be about the company she keeps there.

“I am very excited to represent women in brewing at this event,” Cain notes, “but I am even more excited to meet other women who have pioneered the way.”

For more information about the festival and to purchase tickets, go to

Ben Lisle is an assistant professor of American Studies at Colby College. He lives among the breweries in Portland’s East Bayside, where he writes about cultural history, urban geography, and craft beer culture. Reach him on Twitter at @bdlisle.

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