by Katrina Woznicki
Think “craft beer” and you might picture bearded dudes in flannel shirts lamenting about hop bitterness versus malt sweetness.
Portsmouth Brewery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, recently introduced LIBEERATION, a craft beer specifically formulated to help women experiencing menopausal symptoms.
The beer is the brain child of almost-58-year-old Joanne Francis, co-owner of The Portsmouth Brewery and Smuttynose Brewing Company, who has been in the brewing industry for 26 years. Joanne was hanging out with her beer-loving girlfriends about five or six years ago, talking about how the beer industry caters heavily to the 21-35 year-old, predominantly male demographic. Meanwhile, the industry that Joanne was a key part of was missing an untapped market: menopausal women who’ve been enjoying beer for 30 years.
To create a beer that could help women going through menopause, Joanne consulted health practitioners, herbalists, a clinical psychologist, and an energy healer. She and her head brewer, Matthew Gallagher, test-tasted a variety of herbs served as hot teas to determine which herbs would make it into the beer.
The eight herbs that made the cut include: chamomile; rose flower; mugwort; damiana; stinging nettle; chickweed; lemon balm; and motherwort. A splash of saphir hops gives the beer a mild tangerine flavor. The result is a one-of-kind, gruit-style ale with a golden color, earthy flavors, and rich with the kind of herbs reported to assist with the symptoms common during menopause: sleeplessness, hot flashes and mood swings.
“We want to shift the mentality from focusing on the negative aspects of menopause to celebrating the liberating aspects,” said Joanne. “We know it’s a fun, crazy, wildly different idea. Our goal is to respect and reach women who truly understand what it means to be hot.”
Already, the reception has been extremely positive.
Joanne said women are already asking her ‘Why hasn’t anyone brewed something like this before?’
And apparently men are eager to try the beer, too.
“Women are pumped about it,” she said, “in particular those over 50. But a lot of men have said they, too, can’t wait to try it. The flavor is beautifully complex without being heavy or overwhelming to the palette. Some floral notes, enveloped in herbal flavors. [We] who want to raise a glass to honor the positive aspects of menopause and how it liberates us from bad press about this stage in our lives.”
Female-inspired beers may have a bright future. “I have another idea up my sleeve,” said Joanne, “and perhaps we could go into bigger production with LIBEERATION if demand is there.”
LIBEERATION will be available on draft and sold in bottles beginning October 5th, 2018, until there’s none left. Bottles are sale for a limited time at the brewery’s retail store at 56 Market Street in Portsmouth, NH. If LIBEERATION proves to be a hit, the beer may become part of the permanent rotation of craft beers served at Portsmouth Brewery.