Weekend preview: Harrogate beer fest events

The second annual Women On Tap Beer Festival runs in Harrogate to Sunday with some top local bars involved and pro-women principles.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 4th May 2018, 5:04 pm
Updated Friday, 4th May 2018, 5:06 pm
Women on Tap festival founder Rachel Auty, right, with Richard and Danni Park, the owners of the festival's base The Little Ale House in Harrogate. (1804142AM)
Women on Tap festival founder Rachel Auty, right, with Richard and Danni Park, the owners of the festival's base The Little Ale House in Harrogate. (1804142AM)

But what is WOT and what events are happening?


Friday 4th May

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· 4-7pm - Live music showcase at Major Tom's Social (Free, not ticketed)

Saturday 5th May

· 9am-4pm - Brew Day with Anton Stark at Harrogate Brewing Co (This event will be ticketed) - Harrogate Brewing is located just outside of Harrogate town centre and is easily accessible via a 5-10 min taxi ride or via public transport from Harrogate + a short 0.6 mile walk (Approx. 20 mins total)

· 12-9pm - Harrogate Brewing Co tap room open to the public + live music + food TBC

Sunday 6th May - Last day!

· 11am - A Conversation on Women and Beer panel discussion at North Bar Harrogate (Free, not ticketed)

· 12-4pm - Harrogate Brewing Co tap room open to the public

· 2pm - Film screening by Harrogate Film Society as part of their Flash Film series of In Between - an 'F-rated' film in recognition both of its female writer-director as well as the strong female acting performances (Tickets £5available here)

· From 5pm - Closing drinks at The Little Ale House for anyone still around

What is Women on Tap Festival?It’s an unexpected position but in an era when the clamour for women’s equality dominates the national news, Harrogate finds itself in the vanguard of a new movement - to call time on the idea that beer and bars and ‘lads culture’ are bound together.After last year’s successful opening, the second annual Women on Tap festival will take place in independent bars across Harrogate from tomorrow, Wednesday and runs until Wednesday with lots of superb craft beers created largely by women.

Open to women and menOpen to both women and men, this pioneering event's goal is more than merely enjoying a good pint of beer, said the festival’s founder Rachel Auty, who is normally to be found at Harrogate Theatre in her role as head of communications.Rachel said: “There are still pockets of society that believe beer is a man’s game. Those assumptions need to change.“The fact is, historically, women were the first to brew beer. Women are making superb beers these days and many are working in beer-related professions as we speak.“But women are still under-represented in the beer industry. “Through Women on Tap we hope to celebrate and lead change in a positive way.”As well as beer tasting events, live music and ‘tap takeovers’ with top microbreweries, there will also be industry events and Q &As on women’s place in the beer industry, including one with the award-winning Melissa Cole, one of the UK’s leading beer experts.

An end to sexist brandingWomen on Tap 2 is an altogether bigger and more ambitious festival this time round, buoyed by a successful crowdfunding campaign and links forged with players in the craft beer industry across the country.It’s a long time since the days when the different sexes went their separate ways inside a pub, men heading for the main bar, women for what was called the ‘ladies lounge.’But it doesn’t mean the battle to open up the traditionally male-oriented bar is over in this age of bearded hipsters and hoppy pale ales. Rachel said: “Sexist branding and marketing needs to stop. “If you believe using boobs is the best way to sell your beer, you need a rethink.“But it’s also time people lost the assumption that championing women is woman’s work. Some of the biggest advocates we have for what we do are men. “Several beer festivals, competitions and retailers now refuse all beers with sexist branding. Many men want equality, too.”

Bars in festival include

Hosted again by Harrogate’s award-winning The Little Ale House as the main festival venue, this year’s beer festival will run from May 2 to May 6 as a five-day celebration with eight different events in five different venues.The other bars featured include some of the district’s finest independents - Major Tom’s Social in Harrogate, Blind Jack’s in Knaresborough, Harrogate Brewing Co’s tap room and the North Bar in Harrogate.

Women on Tap festival - Crowdfunding successThe first Women on Tap was funded entirely from a ‘rainy day’ jar but the second will benefit from a Crowdfunding campaign launched on March 8 - International Women’s Day.The appeal hit more than 300% of its original target, also attracting financial backing from two northern breweries and a film company.The response was so strong, in fact, there are now plans to deploy the extra funding generated in a series of development projects across the year.

Spotlight on women in beer industryTalking to Rachel, it’s clear Women in Tap is founded on a passion forged from a lifetime of personal experience.She said: ““I’ve been a beer drinker since my university days more than 20 years ago, but I’ve always felt part of a minority. “One day a couple of years ago I wondered how many women were also drinking beer or working in the beer industry and, perhaps, felt alone or underrepresented. “Upon further research it turns out there are so many more women involved than you might think. “I found several female brewers, journalists, authors, brewery managers, bloggers, and many more beer drinkers, several of whom are also training, taking exams in beer, or are already qualified.”“But the beer industry needs more confident voices of authority taking the lead on equality.”

Special beers for WoTNone of this may matter to the lucky festival-goers of both sexes when they’re tucking into some wonderful brews next week, including the festival’s own beer, a new salted caramel stout called, appropriately enough, Suffragist, in collaboration with Leeds-based Nomadic Brewery.But below the tasty, forthy surface of a Women on Tap pint a serious purpose remains.If there was just one measure the beer industry could introduce quickly, said Rachel, it would be an Equality Code of Practice. She said: “There’s a nervousness, even from some of the largest UK breweries about equality and also confusion which often translates into silence.“A clear Equality Code of Practice would not only serve as guidance for organisations, it also would help them to be more confident on the issue.“Hopefully initiatives like Women On Tap will help attract more women to drink beer and to pursue a career in the industry.”