Celebrate Female and LGBTQ Brewery Owners at the RIDEA Craft Beverage Festival

Tickets are on sale now for the May 14 event.
Ridea Craft Beverage Festival 5

Courtesy of RIDEA Committee

After close to a year of planning and discussions about how to make Rhode Island’s brewing scene more equitable, the Rhode Island Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Action in Craft Beverage Committee is set to launch its first major event.

The RIDEA Craft Beverage Festival will take place on Saturday, May 14, at The Guild in Pawtucket. The event will run from 6 to 9 p.m. and feature beverages from at least twenty breweries, distilleries and wineries from Rhode Island and beyond.

“Basically, we are teaming up with a bunch of local breweries, distilleries and wineries to offer people free unlimited samples of whatever products they’re serving. We’ll also have two to four food trucks where people can purchase food from,” says Jamie Buscher, president and co-founder of the RIDEA Committee.

All proceeds from the event will support a new scholarship for candidates from diverse backgrounds in the brewing, sommelier and beverage management programs at Johnson and Wales University. The group plans to award their first pair of $2,500 scholarships this fall.

“I think it’s been really great so far. We’ve gotten a lot of press, we have a lot of different breweries involved statewide,” she says.

The festival will feature breweries and other craft beverage providers from around Rhode Island along with guests from out-of-state. The lineup places a special emphasis on female and LGBTQ-owned breweries, including Brazil’s Japas Cervejaria and Provincetown Brewing Co. from Massachusetts. Buscher says she’s also excited to highlight female brewery owners in Rhode Island, including RIDEA co-founder Erika Tessier, who owns Origin Beer Project along with her husband, Cheyne, and Lori Witham, owner of Proclamation Ale Company.

Festival-goers will also be able to sample “Silence Is Not Golden,” a new collaboration beer that’s raising money for the scholarship. Shaidzon Beer Company, and possibly other local breweries, will have samples of the brew on hand.

The effort grew out of conversations last year about the challenges facing women in the brewing industry. In May of 2021, Brienne Allan, a brewer at Notch Brewing in Salem, Massachusetts, posted on Instagram about her negative encounters with men working in the industry. The resulting outpouring of stories led to a nationwide effort to make brewing a more welcoming place for women and people from different backgrounds, including in Rhode Island, where the RIDEA Committee started as a get-together at a Providence bar. One year later, the festival will mark a major milestone for the still-growing group.

“We have a lot of people helping us which is great. I think really at this point it’s just nailing down the last few breweries and selling tickets really. Getting the word out,” Buscher says.

Tickets are on sale now on the RIDEA website. The event will be indoors and outdoors and take place rain or shine. Buscher says the committee is still looking for more beverage producers to participate, and interested business owners can reach out at rideacommittee@gmail.com.


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