Ladies Academy of Brewing at Bitter & Esters

UPDATE: The Ladies Academy of Brewing has been cancelled and instead merged with a new class, “Brewprenticeship.” It is open to both men and women, and will start on March 18. Purchase tickets for this new class here. The structure and instructors for the class remain the same as previously written. Use the promo code Brewprenticeship to receive a 20% discount off the class, courtesy of Bitter & Esters.

Starting January 21, Bitter & Esters will hold an intensive, three-part homebrewing class. The first of its kind for the Prospect Heights homebrew shop, this class is for ladies only.

Dubbed the Ladies Academy of Brewing (LAB), the course is taught by seasoned homebrewers Shannon Bowser, Sheri Jewhurst and Kate Biocourt.

“We formulated it in a way to foster a community, educate and have fun at the same time,” says Bowser. “The first class is an intro where we get the students comfortable with the shop, drink and taste beer to identify flavors, explain how those flavors are achieved in the brewing process, and build a beer vocabulary. The second class is where we explain in-depth the brewing process, and go into the history of brewing. The third class is when we actually brew a five-gallon batch together on the brewing equipment [at Bitter & Esters].”

Though this class is intended for women only, it’s not any less of a class than a co-ed one. “It’s not just a women’s class,” says Douglas Amport, co-owner and founder of Bitter & Esters. “This is actually going to be a really fucking awesome brewing-opportunity-slash-brewing-class for people. I’m really excited about it just because of it’s awesomeness. I think that’s really important to stress. You say ‘Ladies Only’ and some people roll their eyes. I want people to read ‘Ladies Only’ and be like, ‘Why is this awesome class women only?’ That’s my goal with this class. And it’s taught by some of the best brewers.”

Amport explained that Bitter & Esters has launched this class in response to feedback from many women who have taken other classes at the shop. “We’ve had some women say that it feels intimidating. A little bit like a boys club. We heard that and are responding. It’s not that we want to segregate, it was more like, ‘Ok so the community feels one-sided. If we can bring people in more comfortably we can fix the whole community that way.'”

Participants in LAB will come away with the ability to brew an all-grain batch on their own, even if they start out with no knowledge in brewing. “The last session is a full on brew day,” Amport notes. “So they will be hands on going through a batch of all grain brewing with three great teachers. At that point they’ll be able to walk away and buy whatever they want and brew their own beer… I want people who are taking this class to go from zero to 100 in three classes.”

“We’re hoping that the students will have a better palate and vocabulary, and actually get to know the individual flavors within the beer, and where they come from. We want them to have the knowledge to be able to start brewing at home, and not be intimidated by the process,” explains Bowser. “We also want them to have the experience of brewing on a larger scale, and the feeling of achievement that comes with making something awesome for the first time. It kind of feels like magic when you create beer for the first time, like you’ve cracked a code.”

But fear not, dudes and ladies who don’t get the chance to sign up for LAB this round. Amport stressed, “we’re going to be rolling this class out as a co-ed class. Solely because I think it’s awesome.”

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