An all-female beer club is on a hops-flavored mission.
"Most women join a gym, yoga class or even knitting," tsk-tsked Lauren Baldys' mother, amused yet mildy annoyed that her 27-year-old daughter had to leave a family party early in order to make it to her In Pursuit of Ale (IPA) meeting.
Baldys, after all, falls into that category of cool gals who like to throw one back, and as fellow IPA member Becky Briggs explains, "You don't meet a lot of chicks who just want to have a beer."
Forget the designer vodkas, Smirnoff Ices or even Yuenglings. These girls are after the good brewskis, and they're even checking out library books to figure out what kind of good beer they like.
Double bocks, tripels, stouts, porters--the IPA women are thrilled to tell you exactly what characterizes each of these brew types. And while they sweetly sermonize their newfound knowledge, you can't help but notice most of them are as cute as that St. Pauli Girl, minus the Bavarian getup.
This organized front of women knowledgeably imbibing beer started when Suzanne Woods noticed some girls at an Old City bar drinking something other than a cosmo. The 28-year-old home-brewer sauntered up--or maybe she dashed through the bar, knocking mojito-drinkers aside--and jokingly suggested these superior-alcohol-consuming women form an alliance celebrating their discriminating taste buds.
Within 72 hours the emails were flying, shouting: "Down with fruity drinks and the twats in mini-shirts and heels who pollute their systems with them!" There was even talk of a rally outside the Continental Mid-Town. But the genial side of these fair maidens quickly took over, and they made it their mission to not only enjoy sophisticated beer in good company, but also disseminate their knowledge to the ignorant Miller Lite-drinking sows. With a clarified mission, In Pursuit of Ale was formed.
Woods, founder of IPA and professional "beer lass"--according to her Sly Fox business card--has worked with beer since she graduated college and got her first job as an account manager for Sam Adams.
"After seven years my parents are finally beginning to accept it," says Woods of her beer infatuation. "Sometimes I think my last boyfriend dated me just because I brewed my own beer."
As president of the club, she takes her charge seriously. On the group's MySpace page (www.myspace.com/ipabeerclub) she's posted the calendar of meeting locations--which take place every other Wednesday at different "beer-centric" bars--through 2006. Before each meeting she also posts a specific beer for members to research if they so choose.
For those truly dedicated members, such as Chelsea Nilsson, the quiz is posted prior to the meeting. This is one way to earn points, which win you prizes such as a bottle of quality brew or even Michael Jackson's Great Beer Guide.
While most of the nearly 30 girls at Nodding Head brewpub murmured versions of "I have no fucking clue," Nilsson scribbled down her answers. "I spent an hour, maybe even 90 minutes looking up answers to what I'd say are completely obscure questions," says Nilsson, a 23-year-old English teacher at Camden High. "I wanted the pursuer points." Those points later earned her a bottle of Morimoto Hazelnut Brown, her favorite beer.
Woods is extremely excited about the success of the group thus far. After roughly two months and five meetings, IPA claims almost 40 members ranging from 21 to 38. And these aren't your average Janes.
"Most of the gals are pretty easy on the eyes," Woods brags. Furthermore, a lot of them are professionals--teachers, sales and marketing reps, graphic designers, auditors--as well as students.
They're smart, funny, social and totally into beer. So what if they don't do yoga?