This Club Hops!
Cape Cod Girls’ Pint Out club introduces women to craft beers at local restaurants.
Adorned with decorative pint glasses brimming with hops, a sign welcoming visitors to The Nor’East Beer Garden in Provincetown one evening in September boldly defines the mission statement of those on hand for the festivities.
“We’re gals into grolsch,” the sign reads. “Ladies into lagers. Princesses into pilsners. Angels of ale . . .” True to these statements, the Commercial Street restaurant’s outdoor dining room that night is packed with a crowd of 35 attendees (mostly women and a few men) who are sampling rare and craft beers, and sipping on porters, stouts, and ales.
Since its founding in January, Cape Cod Girls’ Pint Out has been brewing up success, drawing full houses to events at Pain D’Avignon in Hyannis, Local Break in Eastham, and the British Beer Company (BBC) locations in both Sandwich and Hyannis.
“I honestly was so surprised at the reception I got on the Cape,” says Sarah Richardson, the club’s founder. Richardson, who works as the manager of retail and social media at Mayflower Brewing Company in Plymouth, is also a fan of craft beer. “I love beer,” she says. “To me, it is exciting finding different varieties of solidly brewed beer made with the four main ingredients of beer: malt, water, hops and yeast.”
The Cape club is part of a growing national organization—Girls’ Pint Out—which features 35 different chapters in 25 states. The original chapter was founded in Indianapolis, Indiana in 2010. Magen Peters, who founded Girls’ Pint Out, wanted to educate women about craft beer and offer a good time in the process. Some of the club’s events are planned with just women in mind, while others are open to men as well.
After learning of a Boston Girls’ Pint Out chapter and seeing how successful it was via social media, Richardson was inspired to start a chapter on the Cape. “I loved the sense of community I was seeing,” she says. “I felt like when I traveled to another state I could reach out to the local Girls’ Pint Out chapter and ask them what beers I should try and what places I should go to.“
A longtime resident of Hyannis who recently moved to Plymouth, Richardson spread the word about the club to local women and restaurants. “As I got this going, Beth Marcus from Cape Cod Beer was 100 percent behind it,” she says, “and Pain D’Avignon, who didn’t know me from a hole in the wall, let Girls’ Pint Out take over the restaurant—closing it to other customers—and we filled it to capacity.”
So far, Cape Cod Girls’ Pint Out has met 11 times, bringing together local women, breweries, and restaurants for an evening of beer and food pairings and a chance for participants to meet and chat with the brewers. The inaugural gathering was hosted by Cape Cod Beer at the BBC in Hyannis; additional events have been held at Harvest Gallery Wine Bar in Dennis and the Orleans Public House. There are no club membership fees, however, attendees pay for their own food and beer.
“Everyone is welcome,” Sarah says. “There’s no requirement to be at every single meeting. This is a great way for us to bond together and enjoy a night out with girls.”
“[They] don’t need to know about beer,” she adds. “This is all about learning what each style is, so when they go somewhere and see an IPA (India Pale Ale) they know it’s a hoppy beer; a stout is a malty beer; and now people who didn’t understand much about craft beer can know what the different styles are.”
One goal Sarah has for the club is to make each person’s connection to the beer personal. “It’s nice to be able to understand the beer and form a connection with the company [that makes it],” she says. “It really makes a difference.” Representatives from different local breweries have been on hand at some of the gatherings to serve as guest speakers and discuss their products and craft.
During the club’s gathering at the BBC in Sandwich, Heather Sanborn of Rising Tide Brewing Company in Portland, Maine regaled those on hand with stories of spending many a late night watching “Downton Abbey” on Netflix while slapping labels on beer bottles.
“At our dinners you can talk to people who have been right there from day one at the breweries,” Richardson says. “When else will you have the opportunity to meet women who work in breweries and make such a difference?”
At the Nor’East Beer Garden event in September, the theme was a harvest beer dinner. The restaurant’s head chef, Zia Auch, and co-owner, Vida Hamnquist, prepared a menu of local foods—many from the restaurant’s own garden—pairing each course with a craft beer. The lineup featured chicken Ballantine with cranberry and celery root, paired with a sour Tart of Darkness beer from the Bruery in California; and Provincetown bluefish with foraged mushrooms, served with a pint of Dogfish Head Brewery’s Midas Touch.
The chefs’ goal was to offer beer selections that would bring out distinctive flavor profiles in each dish. “I wanted to show people that it works,” Hamnquist says, “that beer can go with food better than wine. It was nice to show that to people.”
Hyannis resident Jen Villa has attended most of the club’s events so far. And, she’s enjoyed them. “The beer dinner in Provincetown was the first time I experienced beer properly paired with food,” she says, “and I was blown away at the differences in how the beer brings out the flavors of the food, and vice versa.”
“I was worried that the people going might be hard core into beer,” Villa adds, “but it’s more than that. It’s a fun, social thing, and people are also getting educated about beer. It is really cool because it’s a fabulous gathering of like-minded people, and it brings together complete strangers that you have a common bond with.”
Beth Marcus, business manager at Cape Cod Beer, says craft beers on the Cape have been gaining in popularity in recent years. “When we came out with our first seasonal beer, a porter, we were challenged to get people to put it on tap,” Beth says. “We got: ‘dark beers? Who drinks dark beers?’”
When she moved to the Cape in 1998, Beth says local bars offered more conventional brews from their taps. “That’s definitely changed,” she says. “It’s taken time, persistence, consumer demand, and education. But I think it’s here to stay. We are finding that the craft beer drinker wants something new all the time. When we release a new beer people always ask us, ‘what’s next?’”
Upcoming Cape Cod Girls’ Pint Out events are scheduled at the British Beer Company in Hyannis, Pain D’Avignon in Hyannis, and the BBC in Falmouth; a field trip to a local brewery is also in the works. For more information, visit girlspintout.com, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ashleigh Bennett is a freelance writer for Cape Cod LIFE Publications.