Galveston's Own Female Brewer

July 1, 2020


In no way am I an expert in the study of Zymology, or beer making. I like some types of beer, have sampled many, and am open to tasting almost all. Long ago I stopped purchasing and drinking commercially-produced domestic beer (e.g., Coors, Bud, Miller). I prefer to support local breweries and members in our community who work and volunteer for them.


My favorite beer is made by a woman who lives in Galveston and works at a brewery I can bicycle to with my kids. The name of the beer is biological in nature and named after a butterfly. Hops* from the Yakima area in Washington State, a place dear to my heart, are used to make this India Pale Ale. During the Great Annual Beer Festival, held in Denver each year, different hops blends are bought and sold. Attending this festival is The Pink Boots Society,  a non-profit organization supporting women working in the brewing profession, especially in craft beer. In 2017, the Pink Boots Society partnered with a company called Yakima Chief Hops to create a custom blend of hops that was then shared with local chapters around the nation of the Pink Boots Society, including the Houston chapter. Galveston Island Brewing (GIB) owner Mark Dell’osso shared the announcement with one of its employees, Sarah Milligan. In Spring 2017 and in coordination with GIB’s Master Brewer Jason Stromberg, Sarah designed and released her first beer from scratch, the Painted Lady (my favorite beer).


A pathology graduate in 2016, Sarah provided answers to some questions I posed to her regarding the Painted Lady. I learned how and why she switched her work’s focus from studying diseases to crafting beer. She said listening to a presentation on beer spoiling bacteria at a microbiology conference piqued her interest. Enough so, she started volunteering at a brewery (GIB) just after graduating from medical school (UTMB). A few months later, Sarah was hired full-time. Though she does not work in medicine, the lab equipment she uses daily at the brewery (e.g., autoclave, microscope) are similar. As for the beer’s name, Sarah describes her beer as tasting like orange juice, yet she didn’t want to include orange in the name of it. The season was spring, with butterflies beginning to hatch. She recalled raising butterflies for years as a young girl, of the species called Painted Lady (scientific name - Vanessa cardui). Painted Lady Butterflies are primarily black, orange, and white in coloration. Orange taste, orange on the butterfly, a spring-time beer, with part of the name denoting the female gender (lady) to honor the mission of the Pink Boots Society. Voila! The Painted Butterfly beer at GIB.


Sarah Milligan, thank you for making Painted Lady. It’s my favorite beer. I’ll be looking for it in Spring 2021, when you brew it again on International Women’s Day.


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