This new beer has a purpose -- to keep women safe in the backcountry

Krystin Norman's brainchild is Snowpack Ale, a Fremont Brewing product whose proceeds will help pay for avalanche training for women. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE -- By day, Krystin Norman is a staff scientist and microbiologist at Fremont Brewing.

She swirls beakers of yeast and grain to perfect flavor profiles.

On weekends and when she can, she examines layers of snow in the backcountry so she and her friends can ski safely.

But now she has combined beer and her passion for the backcountry to make sure women are safe on their skis.

It comes at a time when avalanche dangers have been high in the Cascades and recently took six lives.

"I really want more people to go out to be more knowledgeable and safe in their decision making," she said.

Her brainchild, Fremont's Snowpack Ale, was released Thursday night.

Proceeds from the beer will fund free avalanche education for women.

"These scholarships are really important because there are a lot of people who go out or want to go out into the backcountry," Norman said. "But to be educated is really important."

Avalanche education can be expensive. Entry-level courses start at a few hundred dollars. And Norman says there are also social barriers.

"A lot of women rely on their male counterparts to make decisions for them, especially in the backcountry," she said.

But along with K2 skis, the Noethwest Avalanche Center and SheJumps, which promotes the participation of women and girls in outdoor activities, Snowpack Ale will allow 24 women to receive avalanche education next winter.

The program is aimed at women who couldn't otherwise afford the classes. Norman says applications will be announced this summer.

Norman hopes the training continues for winters to come.

"More people are thinking about, 'Oh, if I go out and recreate, am I safe? Can I make safe choices?' And I hope it's something people can star to understand is a really important part of going out into the mountains," said Norman.

You can find Snowpack Ale at the Fremont Brewery in Seattle or at the Mountain Music Series event at Crystal Mountain on Sunday.

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