FemAle Brew Fest delivered suds and camaraderie

The Kimpton Goodland Hotel was filled with the smell of beer, the chattering of brewers, and smiles all around as FemAle Brew Fest celebrated its fourth annual festival on Saturday. 

The festival was founded in 2017 by Frances Antonio-Martineau and held almost every year since in venues across Broward.

“The point is to highlight women and to show other women that they can do it too,” said Antonio-Martineau “That’s why a lot of the women love to participate, and we all support each other; we build relationships.”

Brewers at the 2021 brew fest enjoyed networking with one another and catching up on beer and business. Last year’s festival was canceled just a week before it was scheduled.

“The beer industry was hit really hard with COVID, and a lot of breweries really struggled,” said Gary Fuller, a beer judge at the festival.

This year, Antonio-Martineau brought the festival back, giving women a chance to reconnect with each other after a long hiatus.

“It’s really nice to get back and celebrate one’s beer passion around other passionate people,” said Tara Nurin, author of A Woman’s Place Is in the Brewhouse: A Forgotten History of Alewives, Brewsters, Witches, and CEOs.

The festival featured 31 breweries from all over Florida, with female DJs and booths throughout the courtyards of the Kimpton Goodland, a small, nice-looking hotel near Fort Lauderdale Beach.

“Seeing the growth that it’s actually had over the past few years, it’s been phenomenal,” said Stephanie Harper of Islamorada Brewery and Distillery.

Harper and her company have been at every FemAle Brew Fest. For her, it’s more than a place to enjoy beer, it’s a way for women in brewing to make connections and grow.

“It’s also really important because it does encompass so many different sides of our industry, and that makes the growth of the entire industry,” said Harper.

With 31 breweries and hundreds of attendees, FemAle Brew Fest 2021 was full of energy. / Elise Gregg, SFMN

Some of the brewers have seen the growth of FemAle Brew Fest over the years. Others were first-time visitors.

“This brings all of us together and shows everyone that us women can do so much,” said first-time guest Tania Delgado of Unbranded Brewing Co. in Hialeah. “It brings a whole community together, and it feels great.”

For many brewers, the pandemic meant changing how they do business to maintain sales even as people ate out less.

“We have this beautiful facility and we really love for people to be in our brewery,” said Micki Bell of Green Bench Brewing Co. in St. Petersburg, which quickly began offering take-out.

The festival has been a high point for many brewers after a difficult season for business.

“We haven’t seen each other in two years in a lot of cases, and it just brightens up the moment to see how people have grown,” said Islamorada Brewery’s Harper.

Antonio-Martineau hopes to continue growing the festival and highlighting women in the beer industry.

“I’m really hoping that we can get back to a normalcy where we can enjoy more festivals like this,” said Amanda Milford of Cigar City Brewing in Tampa. “This is really the fun part of the industry…getting together and supporting each other and trying all the different beers.”

Elise Gregg is a junior majoring in journalism with a minor in criminal justice. Upon graduation, she would like to pursue a career covering international crime, particularly human rights violations and religious oppression around the world.