Local women get introduction to brewing

  Raiye Rosado explains to a group of women how 
  vorlaufing works during the brewing process. A hose 
  is connected to the mash tub to pump mash out and 
  back in to help clarify it.
 (Photos by Carrie 
  Steinweg/H-F Chronicle)
 
The world of craft brewing is largely a male-dominated industry. Female brewers are few and far between. So during Women’s History Month some local women got together to learn the tricks of the trade at Homewood’s Rabid Brewing, led by a woman, Raiye Rosado, who is co-owner of the brewery with her husband, Tobias Cichon. 

The participants were from the Women’s Adventure Club, a group that was formed through Facebook with a wide variety of monthly outings in and around Chicago’s South Suburbs.
  
  Monica Gideon takes her
  turn at vorlaufing.

 
This outing was a 10-or-so hour day of pouring and boiling and mixing and measuring and throwing around terms like hops and wort and mash and vorlaufing. They’ll be able to taste the fruits of their labor after about three weeks of fermenting when four barrels of beer will be served in the tap room as a 6.4 percent alcohol, 34 international bitterness unit red American ale called Sanguinista. 
 
Rosado said that they really were all going on an adventure together. She’s assisted in beer making many times, but it’s her first time going solo and taking the lead. She said the group inspired her as much as she did them. 
 
“Brewing takes all day and it’s a bunch of work and then wait,” said Rosado. During the wait times, they chatted and tasted.
 
Monica Gideon of Glenwood said it was her first time ever trying out any beer brewing, but she was excited to learn. Erica Rebec of Matteson wasn’t exactly a newbie, though. 

“Those in my household brew beer, so it happens in my garage,” she said. “I mostly watch from afar.”
 
  Erica Rebec pumps wort
  out of the mash tun and
  back in to help clarify it.

  
Rebec said that she’s always looking for new adventures for the group and after visiting the brewery and learning of Rosado’s involvement, she talked to her about doing a women’s brewing experience.
 
“Brewing was originally done by women. When brewing started hundreds of years ago, traditionally a woman married to a baker would take the old bread and that would be the yeast in the mash that would start off the beer. It was primarily a woman’s thing to do. It provided sustenance and a clean source of drinking water when water would be questionable and it wasn’t until brewing became a mass-production kind of thing that men sort of took it over,” said Rosado. “I don’t mean to say that we should take it back, but I feel like we should take a place back in it. It’s exciting to be part of it again.”
 
After doing home brewing for many years, Rosado and Cichon talked shortly after they married in 2012 about opening their own brewery. The business was five years in the making and while Cichon took on most of the hands-on work with the building and the beer and took on the artistic role, Rosado handled the administrative side of things. 
 
In writing up a business plan and working through some of the paperwork associated with starting their business, Rosado took advantage of assistance available through the Women’s Business Development Center. 

The group’s mission is “to support and accelerate business development and growth, targeting women and serving all diverse business owners, in order to strengthen their participation in, and impact on, the economy.” The WBDC offers entrepreneurial counseling, technical assistance and access to capital for each stage of the business cycle.
 
“They offer a number of services to women who are setting up small businesses. They help with working on a business plan, (and) how to find certain kinds of funding," Rosado said. "But the way in which they were lifeblood to me was in just verifying my business plan and giving me feedback on that and helping me to almost immediately credential myself with the village.

“There is nothing like having someone you trust who has no personal interest in what you’re doing, but has that kind of experience to be able to bounce ideas off of and find out how other places do it. The acumen that was available to me was second to none.”
 
The WBDC’s resources played a critical role in successfully moving Rosado toward her goal of opening the brewery. Her main contact was located in Homewood. 

The WBDC is headquartered in Chicago and serves a nine-state Midwestern region. The nearest office is located at Governors State University. For more information on the WBDC, visit wbdc.org.

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