At first glance, Pip Young may seem a bit intimidating. Confident and covered in tattoos, her facial expressions unveil a mind constantly absorbing and compiling information. She’s forever searching for solutions to problems.
And these days, problems grow like mould in dark British flats. Pip quickly relates a story about a female friend. This individual runs a successful craft brewery. Yet, she receives snarky comments like clockwork. If she attends a festival or a tap takeover, you can be sure that she will receive harassment of one type or another.
Who are the perpetrators? The short answer is “men.”
In most cases, the abusers are part of the overwhelming majority of the craft beer community: straight white males.
For Pip, her friend’s plight is all too familiar. She’s been fed countless similar stories over the years. A few years ago, Young’s empathic backpack could carry no more - it was bursting at the seams!
Tired of waiting for change, Pip seized an opportune moment of discourse within the beer community. Primed with a recipe for success, Young mashed in at strike temp! (Apologies for yet another awful beer metaphor).
The result was the birth of an activist group known as The Coven.
Pip Young describes herself as a “nearly forty co-parent with two kids.” After leaving university, she moved between the retail and hospitality sectors. During this time she realised she had a talent for customer service.
A bit of an outsider yet able to blend in with different groups of people Pip says, “I’ve always been the ‘odd one’. Like many women, Pip found herself interested in many “male” things from a young age. “I’ve always been a little bit nonconforming when it comes to gender as well.”
Speaking of “male” things, enter the passion for beer.
Photo by Cassie Dodwell
Pip Young on a brew day, wearing merch that explains exactly what she thinks of those who question her proficiency in beer.
“My [ex-partner] worked in pubs and we used to drink loads of beer. He got me into real ale,” Young explains. Pip was fascinated by this new world of processes and ingredients.
“[I was] the ‘beer girl.’ Then, I fell pregnant, but I’d already caught the bug. I took three years off and just stayed at home with the bambino while learning everything about beer - I read every book and drank a lot of beer.”
Young also enrolled in courses at the Beer and Cider Academy (accredited by the Institute of Brewing and Distilling). At this point, Pip was more knowledgeable than many in the industry wanted to give her credit for.
On being a woman in beer Pip retorts, “Oh it’s rubbish. You have to know so much more. If you get spoken to or introduced to a group at a beer event, or even people in your personal life - you will find that one dude who is gonna be a douche! He’s got like a subscription box or something.”
Pip continues, “It’s all done to dominate. It’s to be like ‘This isn’t for you, this is for us.’ Or even worse, they think [women] are there to pull.”
Despite the challenges of being a woman interested in beer, Young pressed on but she wasn’t content with the status quo.
During the pandemic, many of us had to rethink, relearn, and readjust. Like many entrepreneurs, Pip had a venture derailed by the chaos. Perhaps the world wasn’t quite ready for 30SIX Brewing Co. and Young’s feminine-driven branding (featuring her artwork).
Photo by Cassie Dodwell
Pip Young, hanging out amongst the ecasks, wanted to organise for positive changes within the beer industry Photo by Cassie Dodwell
However, like many, Pip took inspiration from happenings across the pond in 2021. Brienne Allan of Notch Brewing ignited a new reckoning with a simple post on social media, “What sexist comments have you experienced?”
Soon Allan’s inbox was overflowing with stories of sexual harassment that painted a desperate and poor picture of the industry. Over here in the UK, a similar story was happening thanks to Siobahn Hewison’s concerted effort to collect and repost stories of abuse.
“I was bored of the moaning,” says Young. “Do something or shut up. [At least] that’s kind of how it was for me.” Pip believed that nothing would get any better without people taking action. Feeling she had the time to dedicate to bringing positive change she thought, “Why not me?”
The Coven started as a relatively simple idea: to promote women in beer, both those that drink beer and those that make it. However, the unveiling of The Coven was almost a disaster. Pip recalls, “[we] didn’t have a bar and were opening the next day.”
A bit short on time, Young managed to get everything together just in time to make an appearance at the Leeds International Beer Festival in 2021. The Coven’s event bar featured eight Lindts pouring beer and cider exclusively made by women-owned breweries or those with women head brewers.
After “working her ass off” and “not drinking enough water” the first event ended up being a smashing success! Young met lots of link-mined people and began forming invaluable networks.
Shortly after the Leeds beer festival, Pip continued to sculpt the concept of The Coven. Discussions with her employer lead to a collaboration brew, Alpha Queen West Coast IPA. This was done in partnership with SALT. It would be the first of many collaboration beers to come.
Around the same time, Young felt she needed to redefine the aim of The Coven. Representing a collective group of activists she thought “I’m trying to build something inclusive—[I didn’t] want to start off by excluding people!”
The language around The Coven needed to be changed to include “others and other-isation.” While the group is still female-first, it welcomes people from any background as long as they share a love of beer and a similar ethos. “Just don’t be a dick,” says Pip.
As part of promoting inclusivity, Pip had another idea. It came from a morose line of thinking. Young was discussing event staffing issues with a work colleague. Many times, small breweries are depending on volunteers to help out and pour.
And what do these volunteers get for their efforts? They get to deal with drunken and laddish behaviour. Women are often cat-called and much worse. Pip’s team discussed adding a “hazard pay” for staff and volunteers who work at festivals.
The idea of compensation for harassment didn’t sit well with Pip. She asked, “Can we make it go away with money? Isn’t there a better way of getting in front of this and just making it not happen?”
It was practicality and a sense of fairness that birthed The Coven’s Wellness Officer Programme. The group’s Wellness Officers are trained and paid individuals that provide active bystanding services based on an idea from the Safe Bar Network in America. Officers are trained in mental health and also first-aid certified.
The Coven’s Wellness Officer Programme provides professionals trained in Mental Health and First Aid for breweries and event venues.
Pip states, “I’m asking festival organisers to completely change their business model. They have to think of an expense they haven’t thought of before. You will need first-aid respondents, so why not have that plus active bystanding from the same team?”
Wellness Officers essentially patrol events keeping an eye out for any signs of trouble. They are there to immediately step in and make sure attendees feel safe.
Staff pouring at the event can radio Wellness Officers for assistance at any time. From there, they can escalate things depending on the situation. It may just be that someone needs a phone charger. Other people may need time to relax and calm down in a quiet space. Occasionally people may need full-on rescuing from abuse.
When this happens, reports will be written and any other necessary actions will take place. The wellness officers can help victims safely leave a venue and even book them a taxi for a safe exit.
“It’s like, hey, do you have to wear that [offensive] T-shirt? That's inappropriate. Can we get you a T-shirt?” Pip explains, “We've got these worlds smashing together. We’re just facilitating an environment where everybody feels safe.”
Since the first brew with Salt Beer Factory, collaborations have really taken off for The Coven. Breweries like Merakai Brewing Co. and Elusive Brewing have paired up with the collective to brew several Brave Noise beers.
If you haven’t heard of Brave Noise, it is a globally organised collaboration between brewers and activists. The proceeds from the sale of Brave Noise beers are donated to collectives for social change, in this case, The Coven.
Most recently, The Coven paired up with Amity Brew Co. for a brew day to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Seeing a good cause happening here on our grey and green island, we knew we had to get involved. All it took was Pip and Matty running into one another at the Leeds International Beerfest. After a good chinwag, we knew we wanted to team up for change.
Looking at our portfolio of no, low, and full-strength beers, it only took a few seconds to find the perfect partner for The Coven: Lumber Jill IPA.
A silver medal-winning IPA, Lumber Jill is brewed for all of the women out there like Pip Young taking positive action and getting things done. Every can is packed with orange, resin, and pine—you’ll feel like you’re camping on the forest floor!
Not only will you be enjoying a tasty refreshment, but you’ll also be giving back to the community. For every can of Lumber Jill sold, 10p will go directly to The Coven to support costs like running the Wellness Officer Programme. It’s a win-win situation. #buyherbeer
Now as Pip says, if we can only get people to “simply not be a dick” we can share a beer and put the world to rights.
Concerning Lumber Jill, Pip had this to say, “Any IPA that’s got a nice malt bill and isn’t straw yellow gets my two thumbs up!”
Join us in supporting The Coven. Besides buying our beers you can also support The Coven by heading over to their online shop to pick up some merch.
At Sheep in Wolf's Clothing Brewery, we are founded on three principles: inclusivity, community, and sustainability. The Coven hits this ideological trifecta out of the park. We thought it only fitting to sum things up with some final words from Pip.
Speaking of women and underrepresented minorities interested in beer, Pip offers a simple course of action, “Shoot me an email. We will train you and pay expenses for you to be an ambassador at one of our events.”
As an ambassador, you will represent The Coven and promote awareness at festivals and other spaces. You will also get to rub elbows with beer lovers and industry professionals —who knows where that next gig might come from?
How can you be a part of the solution and not the problem?
Pip offers a straightforward resolution: just say ‘no.’ She further expounds, “Remember the word ‘no.’ When you hear people say something inappropriate, just be like ‘No, that’s unacceptable’ or ‘We don’t say that here.’
“We can't do this alone. Like why should victims solve the issue? It's not fair, is it? And we don't have the power. Cause if we had the power, we would've solved it already.”
Pip adds, “We want sound people to get involved and we need your help to make beer safe for everyone.”