Meet Juniper Rose: Vermont’s youngest female brewer
June Eckert, 5, wearing light pink overalls, fuschia rubber boots, and an oversized grin, holds the mash paddle and climbs a few stairs to get a better view of the mash tun. She begins to stir in the grain for her first ever beer and namesake, Juniper Rose, a hibiscus IPA. June has been at Four Quarters Brewing since 6:30 am, eager to help in any way she can. Throughout the day, she’ll continue to help check the gravity throughout the sparge, shovel out the grain, and add the hops, all the way through pitching the yeast at the end of a 10-hour brewday — engaged in and excited for the entire process.
June’s dad, Brian Eckert, is the Owner and Brewer of Four Quarters Brewing, a now 10-barrel brewery in Winooski, Vermont. June was less than a year old when Eckert first started the brewery in 2014. She’s grown up around the place, its people and its activities, so Eckert naturally had a plan to brew something with her. Previously, he brewed Great Bear, an American-style brown ale, with his son Barrett, nicknamed Bear.
Eckert can’t keep June from pitching in. “We either have to give her a task or she finds something to do. She’s a little busy worker bee,” he said. On any given day, you might spot June with her signature smile and blonde ponytail squeegeeing the floors, washing tanks, labeling cans, washing the windows, handing out stickers, clearing glasses, challenging brewery guests to a game of Uno or making four-legged visitors sit for a spent-grain dog treat. “June has a natural allure to help with any work that’s going on here,” Eckert shared, “So she was stoked to have her own beer.”
The original recipe for Juniper Rose was a saison brewed with juniper berries, rose hips, and rosa rugosa rose petals, then aged in gin barrels. But, when Brian caught word that the Pink Boots Society created a hop blend, he decided to switch up the recipe to a Juniper Rose IPA. The revised recipe is made with flaked oats and wheat, along with the Pink Boots hop blend of Palisade®, Loral®, Simcoe®, Mosaic®, and Citra®. Eckert and June used hibiscus to add the pink hue and a small amount of juniper berries and rose hips to finish off the IPA. June was five during the brew day; but turned six on July 3. So it’s no coincidence that the beer is 7.3% ABV.
The artwork on the Juniper Rose can was inspired by June’s own designs and doodles. “One day she randomly drew all of these beautiful flowers and smiley faces on our sandwich board,” Eckert remembered. “I loved it so much that I had to include them in the label. I drew the little girl in the middle but styled her after how June draws herself and, of course, added pink boots.”
The Pink Boots Society, founded in 2007, is an international non-profit with over 1,800 members with the mission to “assist, inspire, and encourage women beer professionals to advance their careers through education.” Every year, the organization’s chapters around the world brew a Pink Boots Brew based on a specific theme. This year, it was the specific hop blend Eckert and June utilized in Juniper Rose.
Eckert shared, “I’ve met some amazing women in the brewing industry here in Vermont and beyond. The Pink Boots Society is awesome to acknowledge all of the women working hard in such a male-dominated industry. We donated $1 from every 4-pack of Juniper Rose IPA we sold to the Pink Boots Society. In the end, this totaled $900.”
When asked if Eckert will be collaborating with June for future brews, he laughed, “She’s already trying to run the place, so yes, I think she’ll be the brewer down the road and her brother will be the art director.”