Originally started in Oregon, Barley’s Angels is an international society dedicated to women who are passionate about craft beer. The organization allows women from any corner of the globe to begin their own chapter of the brand, and that’s exactly what Alexandra Ortiz de Fargher of Park City did. Having already been well initiated into the craft beer scene (her husband, Trent Fargher, is the owner and founder of Shades of Pale Brewing Company) Ortiz de Fargher wanted to start her own craft beer adventure. She and all the members of Barley’s Angels are dedicated to several philosophies: overturning the idea that beer is only a man’s drink, and convincing women who have written off beer as a bitter, tinny and cheap substitute for wine or spirits that they just haven’t met the right beer yet.
The group supports four core executive members who handle the event planning, including Ortiz de Fargher, Amber Mills, Kristin Remenschneider and Jenn Deppe. These ladies all come from different backgrounds into the world of craft beer. Deppe was looking for a fun, new hobby to help offset the stress of her work and side business, and was introduced by Mills to craft beer. Mills, who homebrews, watched friends brewing and decided to try it herself, thus beginning a love for good beer that eventually led her to Barley’s Angels.Remenschneider comes from Michigan, where she worked in a large-scale brewery and got into craft beer. She met Ortiz de Fargher at one of the Barley’s Angels events and quickly became a part of the group. The chapter is just over a year old, but is drawing beer enthusiasts and curious ladies like moths to a flame, with some of their events boasting attendance in the hundreds. It’s a demonstration of what the Angels believe: More women would be into craft beer if they were introduced to it. “I think women are more open-minded at trying new things. Men know what they like, and they just want to stick to it. Even my husband’s brewing friends think it’s funny that his wife has a better palate than he does,” says Deppe.
According to these ladies, the biggest contention between women and beer drinking is that beer has forever been marketed to men as a sort of masculine and cheap expression of their down-home grittiness. “Men just assume women know nothing about beer. It’s marketed towards men—think of a frat house: It’s all about partying and getting drunk, not enjoying the beer,” says Mills. Barley’s Angels is all about tearing down those invisible boundaries, and showing women that when they think “beer,” it’s not all Budweiser, Natty Light and can-crushing contests. “That’s the purpose of us doing this, to educate women in craft beer and have them try different things,” says Remenschneider. Ortiz de Fargher says she was not a beer drinker until her husband began Shades of Pale, a microbrewery based out of Park City, with the goal to create unique and well-crafted beers. The brewery experience got her interested in the craft beer world, but her experience with beer prior had not made an impression on her. “Most of my exposure to beer was in college, and it tasted very tinny and metallic to me. I personally had a sweet tooth, and a lot of beers are very hoppy and bitter. But not all beer tastes like that. You have to find the one you like. I think women just haven’t had that exposure,” says Ortiz de Fargher. Showing non-beer drinkers that craft beers are flavorful—and can be as fruity and sweet as wine or their favorite cocktail—is what the Angels are all about. They are confident that there is a beer out there for every palate.
While Barley’s Angels have some homebrewers in their midst, education is their primary goal. They attend festivals and host various other events about every six weeks or so, in hopes of recruiting women to their society and, of course, to enjoy the brewing festivals themselves. In February, with the help of local business owners from several craft breweries, as well as the chocolatiers over at Millcreek Cacao, the ladies hosted a beer-and-chocolate-tasting event, which paired up craft beers with delicious, select fine chocolates. They’ve also done a beer-and-food-pairing event with the gentlemen at Squatters to learn about the art of pairing, as well as events at Shades of Pale. The ladies agree that it’s these types of creative events that help non-beer drinkers understand the complexity and variation of all the craft beers out there. While the club is exclusive to women, they do allow men to their meetings in the form of educated guest lecturers, such as the knowledgeable master brewers of our local breweries. Just as recently as May, the group took a tour of Uinta Brewing Company and were introduced firsthand to their production environment. They have a wonderful camaraderie with the local breweries that fully support the club and provide them with excellent opportunities to extend the knowledge of everyone in the club.
Barley’s Angels have a goal to reach 500 members, so if you’ve ever wanted to learn about craft beer, there’s never been a better time! Ladies interested in becoming a part of Barley’s Angels can contact the group via facebook.com/barleysangelsutah or their website, barleysangelsutah.com.