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Season Of The Witch

I feel pretty blessed to be living in "Beer City, USA" aka Grand Rapids, Michigan. My husband, Brian Haik, owns Grand Rapids Beer Tours (GRBT). We are passionate about Craft Beer and the history behind the sacred beverage that so many people love. I am a walking tour guide for GRBT, taking tourist and locals through downtown GR just about every Saturday during walking tour season. I love sharing the incredible beer history of our city, as well as the modern history of all the breweries we visit. (Pre-Prohibition GR was already a beer city). However, my passion is sharing about origins of beer making and how it once belonged to women.

Beer was discovered by accident in 10,000 BC in ancient Sumeria. There is even a Sumerian Beer Goddess named Ninkasi. There was a poem discovered in a clay tablet titled "A hymn to Ninkasi." The poem is a recipe for brewing beer. It can be argued that the art of brewing is broken down and explained in order to be passed down from generation to generation. Furthermore, the Hymn to Ninkasi is the oldest record of a direct correlation between the importance of brewing, and the responsibility that women had with regard to supplying both bread and beer to the household.

Ninkasi is female, and the fact that a female deity was invoked in prayer with regards to the production of brewed beverages illustrated the relationship between brewing and women as a domestic right and responsibility. The repetitive nature suggests that it was used as a tool in order to pass down information as a way of learning. The poem from Circa 1800 BC explains that grain was converted into bappir bread before fermentation, and grapes as well as honey were added to the mix. The resulting gruel was drunk unfiltered, hence the need for straws. A translation from the University of Oxford describes combining bread, a source for yeast, with malted and soaked grains and keeping the liquid in a fermentation vessel until finally filtering it into a collecting vessel.

Until the 15th Century, brewing beer was a woman's job. These crafty women were known as Alewives. They wore pointed black hats, as a marketing scheme, so they could stand out in the crowd when selling their brews. They often kept cats to drive rodents away from their barrels of grain. They used black cauldrons to brew beer and used a broom outside their doors to show beer was for sale.These incredible women were creating ales with medicinal herbs they grew or harvested themselves. Men began to show interest in the beer trade and wanted to take command of the industry. During the Spanish Inquisition the Church started depicting women in power, like the Alewives, as Devil worshippers. The image of the Wicked Witch of the West or other warty women who lived alone in the woods comes to mind when we hear the description of the Alewives. And, we all know about the history of the Witch Trials and Burnings. So, let's fast forward to modern times in brewing. It is still a male dominated industry, but woman have been stepping into with the craft beer movement, again.

I am a modern woman who enjoys craft brews, history, herbalism, crystals, essential oils and energy healing. One might even call me a "Witchy Woman." Brewer John and I have become good friends since I started doing our behind the scenes tours in B.O.B.'s Brewery. I asked him if I could come in and watch the brewing process. Then, we got to talking about brewing a beer together. With the Halloween season and my love of the Alewives, we thought it would be great to brew a beer similar to what the alewives would brew, only with a modern twist–an herb infused IPA. I chose to brew sage, mugwort, and rose hips into an infusion that will be added to a limited batch of "Season Of The Witch" IPA made by Brewer John and Lieutenant Dane. I procured the herbs from one of my favorite shops in town–The Cottage of Natural Elements in Standale. It is owned by my friend, fellow witch, and craft beer lover Linda Snow. Together Linda and I collaborated with our herb knowledge to pick the herbs used in "Season of the Witch." Her shop is full of herbs, crystals, & essential oils. Linda sells herbs to many local brewers so stop in and visit her!
Danielle Haik

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B.O.B.'s Brewery
B.O.B.'s Brewery


20 Monroe Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503


Sun - Wed: Closed
Thu: 4:00pm - 10:00pm
Fri: 5:00pm - 12:00am
Sat: 5:00pm - 12:00am