Since we’re not able to meet in person for a bit longer, we thought we’d take a minute to introduce ourselves and the Society! We’re Jaime and Erica and we’re the owners and operators over here at The Society of Beer Drinking Ladies. Both of us have worked in the craft beer industry for many years now – Jaime is currently in sales at Beau’s & Erica is in sales (but on mat leave at the moment!) at Henderson Brewing.
It all started when…
Way back in 2013, Erica was working at Black Oak Brewing in Etobicoke and noticed a lack of women both at her company and in the industry as a whole. She knew a few women who worked at other breweries thought it would be cool to bring industry and beer loving women together regularly in a sort of ‘Secret Society.’ She reached out to 4 women she knew who loved beer and pitched the idea of starting some sort of small private club. Meeting at the (now defunct) Two Bite Saloon on Bloor St, she shared her vision and everyone was on board.
We tossed around names and logo ideas and settled on our first event: a small private gathering called a ‘bevy’ in Jaime’s living room. We expected maybe 10 or so women. An Eventbrite was created and tickets were put on sale for $10 (all-you-can-drink…whatta time to be alive!) Instantly WAY more than 10 tickets sold (PSA: cap your ticket sales!) Dozens of women definitely wouldn’t fit into Jaime’s modest Toronto apartment, so we quickly figured out how to apply for a Special Occasion Permit with the AGCO, secure a venue (Jam Factory!), order beer from local breweries and secure event insurance. With over 90 tickets quickly sold, Bevy 0001 was a success! We even tried to have an after party at the nearby Dominion Pub at midnight, which maybe 5 people went to (!)
And the rest is history!
From that point forward for many years, we held a bevy the last Friday of every month in secret locations all around Toronto. Different spaces, different food vendors and different beers. We gave out all sorts of things as ‘Morning After’ gifts and allowed men at midnight. Organically, the events became these safe and unpretentious spaces where women from all walks of life could hang out, be themselves, make new friends and try some new brews.
Flash forward to now: the SOBDL appears to be North America’s largest organization for womxn and beer. We don’t throw monthly bevies anymore, but instead host regular bevies (of around 400 ppl) in Toronto, Ottawa and Hamilton and Lady Beer Festivals (of around 1200 ppl) in Toronto. We’ve branched out into a bunch of other avenues: a year-round beer at the LCBO brewed at Henderson Brewing, a year-round cider partnership with Shiny Cider, small batch beers at our fave craft breweries, an on-line swag shop, beer dinners and NOW our epic Beer Squad Mystery Boxes that we ship to people’s dwellings across Ontario.
With almost everything we do, a portion of profits is donated to charity as we’re always drinkin’ for a cause. The Canadian Women’s Foundation, Twelve, Glad Day Bookshop and Black Women in Motion are all recent donation partners. We strive to be a leading voice in the craft beer industry and a leader in progressive, inclusive, diverse and safe content and spaces.
Over 6 years later, we’re still challenged and having a great time running the SOBDL organization. Thanks for being part of our adventures. Here’s to many more years of building beer community: one sip at a time!
Jaime & Erica