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'Drink Like a Girl' festival celebrates women in brewing on Apr. 30

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As a craft beer lover, Kelly Guilfoyle, founder of the Drink Like a Girl festival series, is troubled by the lack of diversity in the industry.

“There’s still a stigma out there that women don’t drink beer, women don’t know about this brewery, etc. etc.,” Guilfoyle said. “This is kind of breaking down that I’m not only going to throw a festival, I’m going to put on the best festivals with the best breweries in the state every time I do it.”

Drink Like a Girl’s next festival will take place on April 30 on the Pont de Rennes and nearby High Falls Terrace Park. The event will feature a 5k run, a 1k “beer walk,” and an eclectic mix of New York state beer.

Avon’s heralded Mortalis Brewing Company, Batavia’s Eli Fish, and the much slept-on Hector brewery Lucky Hare are among the 22 breweries represented on the event’s tap list.

Since its inception, the craft brewing industry has been dominated by white men. In October, the national Brewers Association conducted a survey of 500 randomly selected breweries. It found that 93.5 percent of brewery owners were white and 75.6 percent of owners were male. By comparison, 23.7 percent of brewery owners identified as female. The survey found that only 2.9 percent of breweries were owned solely by women.

Guilfoyle’s goal with Drink Like a Girl is to spread awareness of inclusion in the brewing industry while supporting woman-centric causes. For the event on the Pont de Rennes, 10 percent of the proceeds will be donated to Young Women’s College Prep charter school on Hoover Drive in Greece.

Among the previous Drink Like a Girl events was a 5k in Geneva, which raised money for the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Guilfoyle said Drink Like a Girl aims to promote better diversity in the beer world.

“The majority of my friends are not white, my daughter’s biracial, and my mother’s an immigrant from Brazil, so for me it doesn’t make sense and it should be all inclusive,” Guilfoyle said. “We’re woman-focused, but huge advocates for better overall diversity.”

Those attending the Rochester event should prepare for the possibility of mud—the city of Rochester started improvements to High Falls Terrace Park and the Brewery Line Trail earlier in April and construction is still ongoing.

Guilfoyle had received permits for the festival in March,  prior to when city officials made the decision to break ground on the park and trail work. As a result, the festival will partially take place in a construction zone, a development that tested Guilfoyle’s patience.

In a phone call, city Communications Director Barbara Pierce said she understood Guilfoyle’s frustration, and said the situation was the result of a failure to communicate between the city’s special events and Department of Environmental Services teams not communicating the plans for the festival.

“We do everything we can to drive people downtown and there was an overlap,” Pierce said. “In my role I’m working to ensure that this isn’t going to happen again. We’re actually using some technology to ensure that every team knows what another team is doing everywhere in the city.”

Tickets for Drink Like a Girl start at $50 for the 1k beer walk and 5k, and include a T-shirt and tastings. The 5k will begin at 11 a.m. and the 1k at noon.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or gino@rochester-citynews.com.