A brewery in Rwanda puts the “international” in International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day
Two Beers Brewing releases Drinking Boots IPA on April 19th. Silver City Brewery released Royal Tea Honey Cream Ale on April 9th. Dru Bru released Alpha Female Double IPA on April 1st. The Women of the Ballard Brewery district released its collaborative beer, (You Should) Smile More IPA, on March 31st.
Those are just a few examples of beers brewed by women on International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day to support the Pink Boots Society. Women at breweries around the world did the same, creating hundreds of beers to benefit the international organization that supports, educates, fosters, and celebrates women in the beer and brewing industries.
The images here are borrowed from Instagram. Like so many breweries around the world, Kweza Craft Brewery in Rwanda created its Pink Boots beer using the Pink Boots Blend, a special blend of hops from Yakima Chief Hops.
Pink Boots in Africa
Allow me to introduce Kweza Craft Brewery of Kigali, Rwanda. This is the nation’s first female-led craft brewery. Actually, Kweza Craft is Rwanda’s first craft brewery, period.
“We are Rwandan, American, and Zimbabwean women sourcing locally, brewing, cooking, building the country’s first craft brewery,” says the company’s website. “Our goals are to build women’s generational wealth, build a successful business run by, training, and employing women, and making great beer, non-alcoholic beverages, and delicious matching food!”
Kweza Craft Brewery’s mission is quite fabulous. That’s why I am sharing the story. Also, oddly enough, I have a personal connection, albeit a small one, to the beer scene in Rwanda.
Beer in Africa
I won’t pretend to be an expert, but I’ve read some things. Also, several years ago I struck up an online friendship with a young man in Rwanda named Gabriel. From him, I learned that men in Rwanda, like him, usually drink mass-produced lagers and don’t pay attention to the source. They don’t think of beer as a crafted beverage.
Some friends of mine visited Gabriel in Rwanda and returned with stories about a beer brewed with bananas. Apparently, it was not very common, but he managed to find some of it for them. Beyond that, the beer scene consisted of men drinking mass-produced lagers.
Beyond that, in Rwanda (as in much of Africa) more traditional beers are brewed in small batches at home, using ingredients like sorghum, maize, and other locally grown starch sources. Traditionally, women brew these beers, with knowledge handed down from one generation to the next.
So, on one hand, you find the younger generation reaching for large-format, mass-produced lagers. In general, Rwandan beer drinkers are men, I’ve been told. On the other hand, you find very traditional beers brewed at home for special occasions, celebrations, and holidays.
Somewhere between the two, you’ll find Kweza Craft Brewery bravely carving out a place for itself. Owned and operated by women, this brewery intends to inspire and support women.
A Beacon of Inspiration
“We will be opening a brewpub in Kigali with brewery tours, farm visits, etc, as well as supplying select restaurants and outlets throughout the country,” explains the company’s website.
Beyond just producing beer, Kweza Craft Brewery has been called something much more important: a beacon of inspiration for aspiring women entrepreneurs across the country.