A legacy for the future

When thinking about female beer advocates I suspect that an American medieval historian living in Dublin might not be the first sort of person that comes to mind. However, Dr Christina Wade, the author of CAMRA’s newly released book, The Devil’s in the Draught Lines, is certainly a champion of trying to put women at the centre of beer’s historic story.

So what came first; beer or history? Christina explained, “I loved history as a child. I was adopted so I didn’t have a family history but I did know there were some roots in Ireland. The love of medieval history came from school. I went to a small Quaker school (although we weren’t Quakers) and, in the last year, the theme was medieval history and I was hooked.

The love of beer came a little latter. Christina has lived in Chicago, Wisconsin and West Virginia and, after finishing college, she went to work for BA Systems in Washington DC. There she got into beer and started a women’s beer group with a friend. Then it was all change; Christina decided that BA Systems was not for her and started to apply to universities in Scotland and Ireland. She was successful in getting a place at Trinity College Dublin. “While doing my PhD, my tutor advised me to get a hobby to balance out academia. It was the best advice I was ever given,” said Christina. “I didn’t have many friends so I started the Craft Ladies Society in 2013. I used MeetUp.com and it grew from there. It’s still going 13 years on.”
Ireland led to another major development in Christina’s life. She met her husband just two weeks after moving there. “It was at a beer festival, in fact, an Octoberfest,” she explained. The fall out was that Christina did not want to move around once her doctorate was finished. She started writing her website (Braciatrix) in 2017 and this included the history of Irish Beer. There was however a significant challenge because, she explained, “In 1922 a fire wiped out the Irish archives and history went up in smoke!”.
Not one for sitting around idly, Christina blogs in her own right and co-founded the Beer Ladies podcast with Lisa, Thandi, and Katie, which covers beer history, style guides and beer culture. Next came the book following an approach from CAMRA Books. When asked about her approach to writing The Devil’s in the Draught Lines, she replied, “I had read a lot of books on brewing but they tended to be from the big brewers’ perspective. I wanted to know what was happening from the bottom up and look at class, gender and regionality. I wanted to understand the impact of legislation over time and cover a variety of voices in the beer industry; all backgrounds, sizes and influences.” There are very few books specifically on women’s role in brewing and Christina wants this book to be a lasting legacy, “I want this book to be used for its references and a free resource for anyone who wants to know more about the important impact that women have made.” With a bibliography 27 pages long, Christina has certainly created an asset for the future.

The Devil’s in the Draught Lines is available from CAMRA’s online bookshop. Cover price £15.99. There is a discount for CAMRA members.
Christine Cryne