A little over four years ago, Mia Pedersen was reading a BeerAdvocate article about female-oriented groups whose interests revolve around craft brews. Among the organizations mentioned was Girls Pint Out, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose “mission is to build a community of women who love craft beer and who are an active, contributing part of the greater craft beer community.”
Intrigued by the description and the various events planned by chapters across the U.S., Pedersen figured there had to be an Asheville group but discovered that the closest one was in Greenville, S.C., and that only two existed in all of North Carolina. Sure that she was mistaken or that a local edition had existed at some point, Pedersen emailed Girls Pint Out President Amanda Wishin, who founded the organization in Indianapolis in early 2010. Wishin confirmed that Asheville had indeed never had a chapter, but — in an act of fortuitous timing — sent Pedersen details on how to start one.
“I was unemployed. I needed something to do. It doesn’t pay, but I needed something to keep me occupied,” Pedersen says. “It’s a great way to meet people and educate women in the beer industry — and not in the beer industry. So, I started it a week after the information arrived.”
Asheville’s Girls Pint Out is now one of more than 100 chapters across the country. Once contacted, Wishin sends each founder a lengthy welcoming packet that includes the organization’s bylaws and other helpful tips. She also sets them up with an email address and Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts to help get the word out to local women.
Each chapter is required to offer four events a year to remain active — Pedersen’s has two per month — but has the option to go in whatever direction its members wish to achieve the organizationwide mission, from purely fun events to fundraising for charities. Pedersen’s goal was to have the Asheville chapter of Girls Pint Out mainly focus on education, but as more women joined, the demand grew for it to be primarily a social club. While the seasonal parties and brewery crawls tend to attract the largest crowds and have sparked numerous friendships, she says, education remains the chapter’s underlying theme.
“I try to mix it up between just getting together and drinking or having a class or bringing in vendors for a shopping-type theme,” Pedersen says. “And some [events] are crowdsourced. I’ll send out an email and ask what they want to do, and they’ll respond that they want to do a painting and beer class, so we did that at Asheville Brewing [Co.]. Or they want to learn more about hops, so we did a class at Fifth Season [Gardening Co.].”
A little over a week after its Ghouls Pint Out coed Halloween party at The Black Cloud, Girls Pint Out hosts a Biltmore Village crawl on Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 6 p.m., that will feature stops at Catawba Brewing Co., French Broad River Brewery and Hillman Beer. Past crawls have had themes where attendees dressed as Rosie the Riveter, in tutus, in pink or in ’90s fashions. Wigs/Hats received the most votes for the upcoming crawl’s theme and Pajamas/Onesies finished in second place.
Other outings have included a visit to the female-owned H&K Hop Farm in Canton and making collaboration beers with Bhramari Brewing Co. in 2017 and Mad Co. Brew House in late August. The latter experience proved especially memorable for those who made it out to the Marshall brewery. “Ian [Yancich, Mad Co. head brewer] is a mad scientist,” Pedersen says. “He had us put tomatoes, beets and sweet potatoes in that beer — some weird shit. It tasted good, though.”
Pedersen has also started cycling in fitness opportunities this year. Girls Pint Out did a Barre to Bar event in February with a barre class at Fhiit Life followed by drinks at Pour Taproom, and on Monday, Nov. 19, comes the inaugural Pilates and Pints event with a class at Club Pilates in Biltmore Park and beers at the nearby Thirsty Monk.
Besides the brief stops during the crawls and the group’s annual birthday party at Appalachian Vintner, the site of the Asheville chapter’s first event, Pedersen intentionally doesn’t plan repeat visits to area brewing industry locations. Other exceptions include multipart homebrewing classes with Asheville Brewers Supply and beer education classes at Thirsty Monk, but with 19 local venues that the group has yet to visit and more new breweries on the way, she says plenty of fresh options remain before looping back becomes a necessity.
With 500-600 people currently subscribed to the Asheville Girls Pint Out email list and 1,300 “likes” on Facebook, each event typically draws 15-25 women. Pedersen has had as many as 50 women and once pulled in 95 people for a coed gathering. To encourage greater participation, she varies the day of the week and area of town, an approach that attracts a range of attendees. There’s also some membership crossover with the local beer industry employees of Pink Boots Society’s Asheville chapter, including chapter Secretary/Treasurer Sarah Gulotta and leader Katie Smith, with whom Pederson has discussed potential collaborations.
“With GPO, there’s no requirement [to participate] other than being 21 and being female-identifying,” Pedersen says. “We have people who own breweries or work in breweries and people who up until yesterday were drinking Bud Light. It’s a wide variety.”
Pedersen also tries to keep all events within 30 minutes of downtown Asheville. Though she’s had requests for meetups in Hendersonville and Waynesville, and has considered the possibility, she ultimately decided against it on the grounds that it’s difficult to encourage people to drive that far and drink. Once the Asheville options have been exhausted, if group membership keeps growing, attendees could potentially rent a bus and venture to outlying areas, but Pedersen also notes that people in those cities could start their own chapters.
Were someone to form a new group, that person would have access to a Facebook community where all of the founders and chapter heads share advice, event ideas, graphics and other helpful information such as tips on which breweries to visit in certain cities. Additional resources include a mentorship program where seasoned chapter heads are paired with new leaders, and there’s also talk of an official national conference in the near future.
To sign up for emails about Asheville Girls Pint Out events, visit facebook.com/AshevilleGPO.