When I started Ladies Craft Beer Society four years ago, I never envisioned it would become such an important part of my life. (Its very premise is about as low-key as it gets: We gather together to drink beer and make something to take home. It’s like those free classes at Home Depot where your kids can make a bird house, except we’re the kids, and there’s beer.)
But LCBS, as silly as it sounds, is also a tremendous source of support and friendship for me. When I started it, I was wrestling with that weird, mid-20s feeling of settling into the place where friendships are hard to maintain. With a demanding job, a new house, a husband and a Netflix account, it was easy to fall into the routine of answering “omg so busy” whenever anyone asks how you’re doing. But I was feeling a little lonely and disconnected and just couldn’t figure out how to make friendships fit into my life in a way that made sense to me (an admittedly socially awkward, mostly introvert).
Ladies Craft Beer Society started out as a dare to myself. I would commit, out loud and to a group of women I admired, to hanging out on a regular basis. I would let them into my house–the one I neurotically cleaned for hours and hours and hours as an outlet for my social anxiety any time I had people over–once a month, and let them into my life and start getting comfortable with being more vulnerable.
I decided to frame the club around crafting to give us something to do that didn’t require homework (here’s looking at you, book clubs).
I invited friends and acquaintances I had met through various jobs, at uncomfortable networking events, through my husband, and even a high school friend or two, to get together.
And I decided we’d also drink seasonally and thematically appropriate beer at each meeting, because I’ve always preferred it to wine (and let’s be honest: 28-year-old me’s solution to social anxiety was to drown it. In beer.)
That first meeting went better than I expected. There was the getting-to-know you chit-chat, there were nametags, there were snacks. There were also sweater mittens, which turned out to be way too hard of a craft to tackle in a couple hours. We were just getting acquainted when the night started out, but by the time the last thread was snipped, we were united in our hilariously ill-executed sewing project.
When the first guests arrived at the first meeting of LCBS, I wanted everything to be perfect. When they left, it was the first hint of a lesson that the mistakes and the admitting we had no idea what we were doing were what made the night fun, and what made me feel connected to these women.
In the ensuing years since that first meeting, I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with imperfection. I never would have guessed my silly little club would become so important to me, and I’m so excited to–along with my esteemed fellow members–finally share it with you.
(That’s me below dodging an aggressive butterfly at a meeting in the summer of 2014.)