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Tyranena celebrates the work of brewsters on International Women's Collaboration Brew Day
McHenry: 'We're on a small system, so there’s a lot of manual labor.'
Credit:Julia Burke

Andrea McHenry, an assistant brewer at Tyranena Brewing Company in Lake Mills, fired up the brewhouse kettles on Saturday to celebrate International Women's Collaboration Brew Day. Organized by the Pink Boots Society, a group devoted to advancing women in the brewing industry, the day brought together women brewers (or "brewsters") from some 60 breweries around the world, who each created their own version of a beer dubbed "Unite Pale Ale."

Sporting the Society's trademark pink galoshes, McHenry puts her spin on Unite's established recipe guidelines to appeal to fans of Tyranena's typically in-your-face style. "They want it to be a session beer, which is kind of a trend now," she explains. "Previously, breweries had been going for the biggest, baddest beers, which is something we excel at."

Unite should be 4% alcohol by volume and feature the Cascade hop. McHenry did sneak in "a little more hoppiness" and a higher-temperature mash, leaving more unfermentable sugars to result in a slightly sweeter beer.

The Pink Boots Society, of which McHenry is a proud member, organized the collaborative brew for March 8, which marks International Women's Day, to highlight its goal of providing networking, support, companionship, and collaborative opportunities for women in beer. According to group's map of participants, Tyranena is Wisconsin's sole representative in the project.

Along with supporting Pink Boots, breweries are encouraged to select an additional charitable cause to benefit from Unite's sales; Tyranena staff chose breast cancer, an issue close to their hearts due to a friend’s experience with the disease.

Having previously worked as a hospital administrator, McHenry says she "stumbled into" brewing; an avid home brewer, she was staying at home with her young children when she saw a job description at Tyranena. "I was offered a bartending position, and after a year of begging and pleading, Rob [Larson, founder and brewmaster] let me start brewing," she recalls.

McHenry, who has a Cicerone certification in beer service and works with Tyranena's mug club, says her advice for young women with beer ambitions is to recognize that brewing is, quite literally, hard work.

"It's strenuous; we're on a small system, so there's a lot of manual labor," she says, noting that Tyranena brews on a 30-barrel system. "You need to stay in shape. You need to work out in addition to coming to work. Stay healthy -- despite your environment of alcohol consumption," she recommends.

McHenry says she was forced to get in shape quickly when she started brewing. "I have really good 'working man's muscles,'" she laughs. "They might not look that good in a dress, but whatever!"

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