By Sara Ruberg and Anthony Leon
Michelle Demetillo brewed up an idea last year to celebrate women—with beer.
Demetillo, who works for North Fork Brewing Company, suggested the owners foster a collaboration project amongst women brewers for 2020’s International Women’s Month. After the idea was approved, she gathered women from several breweries across the North Fork and started to work.
Lunar Ascent IPA, a beer which resulted from this collaboration, made its debut at their kickoff event last Wednesday. The women worked for months to create their own beer and organize fundraising events. The bar at Riverhead’s Digger’s Ales N’ Eats was filled on March 4, as locals came out to support the Lady Brewsters. The name is an ode to the women who were the first to brew fermented beverages.
Everything about Lunar Ascent IPA is local. The beer is a mix of hibiscus tea leaves from Northshore Tea Company and hop nuggets from North Fork Brewing Company.
“You do have women who are in production, who understand it more from the brewer side and there are women who are managers, bartenders, owners,” Demetillo said. “So there is a nice organization, too, that happens in coordinating and organizing the entire project…it’s been really empowering from a lot of standpoints.”
The Lady Brewsters includes about 20 women from all different facets of brewing and several different companies on the North Fork, like Eastern Front Brewing Co., Greenport Harbor Brewing Co., Jamesport Farm Brewery, Long Ireland Beer Co. (Riverhead), Moustache Brewing Co., North Fork Brewing Co. and übergeek Brewing Co.
The name, Lunar Ascent, was coined by Sheila Malone, one of the Lady Brewsters and a manager at Long Ireland Beer Co.
“Moon imagery has a lot, it ties into women in many, many different ways,” Malone said. “I felt like Lunar Ascent, the imagery of a moon rising and we’re trying to do that too. We’re trying to rise ourselves as women and we’re also trying to help uplift other women that are in need so I sort of thought that the Lunar Ascent imagery fit that without being overly flowery in the name.”
The Lady Brewsters’ main mission is to raise money for the Family Services League (FSL), a non profit that serves underprivileged families in Suffolk County, through hosting events and selling their original Lunar Ascent IPA.
One dollar of every beer sold at each brewery and event will go to FSL to aid in homelessness and housing, addiction, trauma, mental health, continuing education, healthcare and family support.
Local events will be hosted at the breweries throughout the month to fundraise in collaboration with local businesses. Events will range from art shows to yoga to a pollinator garden lecture.
“March is Women’s Month and the Lady Brewsters are a dynamic group of women who have organized a month long campaign and designed events to support programs for women in our community. ,” Karen Boorshtein, FSL’s President and CEO, said in an email, “Their work will provide additional funding and raise awareness of the programs that are available to our most vulnerable neighbors….These kinds of grass roots efforts seamlessly support FSL’s goals of providing emotional and tangible enrichment opportunities…”
The beer itself, supposedly bitter, sweet and even a bit spicy from ginger, was well received at the kickoff event.
“[The beer] is really good, it came out great,” Lauri Spitz, an owner of Moustache Brewing Company said. “I love that everyone got together for women’s month.”
At the kickoff event, friends, family and coworkers from each brewery came out to support the Lady Brewsters and FSL. Demetillo says there were about 60 people in attendance overall. There will be 19 events hosted throughout the month of March on the North Fork.
“I love it,” Dan Burke, the owner of Long Ireland Beer Company, said. “We always felt… we’re cool with women empowerment projects. Beer is good, and in the end, it doesn’t matter how you pee.”