The Society of Beer Drinking Ladies held its first Ottawa “bevy” — think of a mini beer festival — on Saturday, April 14, at the All Saints Event Centre. Flora Hall Brewing was there with three of our beers, and the entire event was a tremendous success. Tickets sold out quickly.
The SOBDL began in 2014 when Erica Campbell, who was working at Black Oak Brewery at the time, approached four lady pals with an idea “to host a sort of secret society with only women in one of our apartments of mostly beer industry women, do a bottle share and hang out, network without guys around.”
We spoke with Erica to find out what SOBDL is all about, and whether there’ll be a chapter in Ottawa.
FHB: What is the Society of Beer Drinking Ladies?
Erica: We are a company that creates interesting and unique beer events for women and those that identify.
For the first three years or so, we held a bevy every month in a secret location around Toronto. They were selling out, so we created Canada’s First Lady Beer Fest. We have been doing these larger fests two to three times a year and typically get around 1,000 women.
SOBDL has been Toronto focused (as we live there), but we are excited to launch outside Toronto, in Ottawa! We decided to go for it in the nation’s capital after having an amazing experience at Beau’s Oktoberfest, where many women came to our swag booth saying “OMG please bring this to Ottawa!”
Since the beginning, we have donated a portion of Eventbrite ticket sales and 100 per cent of bar tips to the Canadian Women Foundation, which does important work empowering and assisting women from coast-to-coast.
We also head to a lot of breweries and create special collaboration brews, host smaller scale beer dinners at some of our favourite restaurants and breweries around Toronto, and pop-up at other festivals with our merch shop.
FHB: No men allowed?
Erica: Correct, we host lady beer events. Men are allowed after midnight for events that go until 1 a.m. (The Ottawa bevy is 2 to 8 p.m.) We are totally fine with guys working our events — food vendors, breweries, etc. And with the smaller beer dinner events we host, we typically allow everyone in.
The point has never been to be anti-men. The point is simply to create events for women to enjoy beers together. Beer festivals, the bar scene and the craft brewery industry are often a male-dominated space. Not everyone feels safe and welcome all the time and we aim to create a space for women to hang out, meet interesting people, explore beer, make friends.
FHB: Will there be a SOBDL chapter in Ottawa?
Erica: We were really just going for it and seeing what happens. We are definitely looking to connect with passionate, hard-working, beer-loving ladies based in Ottawa who can take a lead on organizing future events.
Follow @ladiesdrinkbeer social media channels to learn more about future events or to get involved