Exciting boost for Harrogate's women's beer festival

Harrogate Women on Tap festival founder Rachel Auty, right, with Richard and Danni Park, the owners of the festival's first base The Little Ale House in Harrogate. (1804142AM)
Harrogate Women on Tap festival founder Rachel Auty, right, with Richard and Danni Park, the owners of the festival's first base The Little Ale House in Harrogate. (1804142AM)

The Harrogate team behind one of the UK's fastest growing beer festivals celebrating women has been boosted by major new backing.

Women On Tap - a UK celebration of women and beer – has secured partnerships with leading beer brands for its third festival, taking place May 1-5, across Harrogate and the wider region.

Headline sponsorship comes from Manchester-based brewer Cloudwater, with a number of other leading northern names also pledging support.

Founded in Harrogate in 2017, Women On Tap presents unique events fusing beer, women & the arts in order to raise the profile of women in a traditionally male-dominated industry. An annual Brewster beer and arts festival plus a programme of year-round events across the region all showcase exceptional beer, creative talent and inspirational women.

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The inaugural festival was funded by founders Rachel Auty and Andrew Cameron in 2017, and thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign grew by more than 100% for 2018.

The plan for 2019 is to take the annual event to another level, but as a non-profit Community Interest Company and Certified Social Enterprise, further financial support was needed.

A range of sponsorship packages were developed as part of the 2019 funding strategy.

The first financial support came in the form of headline sponsorship from Cloudwater, listed as the Ratebeer number two brewery in the world for 2017.

This commitment was closely followed by pledges from northern beer brands North Bar Ltd, Black Sheep Brewery and the 5 Barrel project, Brass Castle Brewery, Individual Inns Ltd, Roosters Brewing Co, The Harrogate Tap, Brew York, and Ilkley Brewery.

Founder Rachel is delighted with the response to date.

She said: “I met Paul Jones from Cloudwater at a beer festival early in 2018 and he was incredibly positive and supportive about the work we do. I’m delighted that Cloudwater has now come on board as headliner.

"I think as a partnership it’s a great fit and we have the potential to move mountains! Women On Tap is a small but bold and ambitious team. My plans for 2019 were to create a northern powerhouse of incredible beer brands and to deliver something exceptional. We’re making great progress.”

Paul Jones from Cloudwater said: “Since Cloudwater launched we have put meritocracy and equal opportunity at the heart of our company. Our Brewery Manager and Head of Retail both joined us as assistants.

"For the past few years women have made up around 50% of our team in roles from production to management, not only in number, but in spirit, in grit and determination, and in results.

"We’re delighted to support Women On Tap and their festival, and hope to see many more excellent women fulfil their ambition in this wonderful industry.”

As well as low representation in the beer industry, the UK has one of the lowest percentages of female beer drinkers in the world** and Women On Tap exists to change that.

Through collaborations with leading bars, breweries and experts, friendly and interactive experiences are created to educate, inspire, and encourage women to find and further explore their passion for beer and for the industry as a whole.

So what’s in store for the 2019 festival?

Rachel Auty said: “We’ve got an exciting vision to really push forward with even more bespoke events, a fringe programme at some of our favourite venues across the north, Harrogate Beer School, and a one-day Women In Beer conference.

"The focus will be on Harrogate again but with a wider regional footprint as we plan to deliver a huge party in May 2019 celebrating not only women and beer but also the fantastic beer destination that is Harrogate and the north of England.”

The full festival programme will be announced on March 8.