Kid Carboy did a great post a few days ago about introducing people to craft beer. One part, of course, stuck out to me as the lady Alehead. Women and craft beer is a weird little paradox. I have seen both success and failure in trying to get my female friends into craft beer.
Let’s start with a little background:
There are two abnormal things about me as a craft beer lover: 1. I’m young and 2. I’m a girl.
When you picture the typical beer enthusiast, you see a man, perhaps in his thirties, usually with a beard and maybe even a pair of Ray-Bans. You don’t picture a short blond girl who looks like she’s 16 but is actually 22.
Not surprisingly, I get some funny looks and reactions when I order something other than a margarita or vodka-soda at a bar. If you ask me, this shouldn’t happen. There are tons of women craft beer drinkers all over the place. Women are nearly taking over as brewers and bloggers and whatnot.
It’s not news that the world of craft beer was for so long viewed as a boy’s club. Of course, I don’t think this is on purpose. In fact, in my first email to Brother Barley, I asked why there were no female Aleheads. And the answer was exactly what I thought it would be: no women had approached them before. EDIT: *Except for Lady Jay*
Most beers are marketed towards men, as Kid pointed out. It’s a sad fact that it’s rare to see a woman in a beer commercial actually enjoying one and not just standing there in a bathing suit holding one and smiling among her male friends. This only slightly reinforces the stereotype that beer is for men — not that it’s for men only — but that beer is generally seen as a man’s preference. But what really prolongs the stereotype is what I see in my daily life.
While a lot of people think it’s totally normal, some think it’s weird that I like beer and also have lady parts. I cannot count the number of times I’ve walked into a party with my boyfriend who gets handed a (usually domestic) bottle while I get the “There’s Smirnoff Ice and Mike’s Hard in the fridge” greeting. I smile politely and say, “No thanks, I’ll have what he’s having” while (according to him) my boyfriend laughs proudly at the dope who just stereotyped his beloved Alehead girlfriend.
I wish more people (outside of our snug little craft beer community) could see how women are involved in the craft beer world. The “Ladies of Craft Beer” Twitter has almost 8,000 followers. Womenenjoyingbeer.com is not the slideshow you might think it is; it’s a site devoted to educating women beer consumers and helping breweries market to women. Just look at Drink With The Wench’s “10 Amazing Women in Craft Beer You Should Know And Follow.” The Beer Babe’s Carla has been blogging since 2007. This is all awesome.
And then there’s the opposite. You can’t ignore the disgusting idea of “Chick Beer” — by the way that link made me vomit in my mouth. Here’s how I think that idea was conceived: “I know! We’ll market beer to women by making it light and tasteless and package it in pink!”
You’re doing it wrong.
Anyway, most of my female friends have a go-to beer order for when we go out together (I’ve sat at a table where literally everyone ordered a Blue Moon but me). And one of my good friends in particular cannot get the golden liquid down her throat. She dislikes beer so much she won’t even try it anymore. Suffice it to say, I’ve met men who dislike beer too. At least these guys and gals think they dislike beer — I say this because most of the time they’ve only tried MGD or Coors Light and have never had a good IPA or porter in their lives. I’ll try to suggest something not too crafty — something popular and drinkable like 312 or whatever other wheat options are around to get them started, but often they don’t want to go out of their comfort zones.
On the other hand, a couple of weekends ago a group of friends and I stumbled into a local grocery store with a fairly decent craft beer selection and (the ever growing in popularity) build a six-pack for $10 deal. I filled the pack, not really thinking about what they’d like and we went to drink around a fire pit. We passed around the brews and I found that the hoppy IPAs that I enjoy are an aquired taste and the amber and belgian white I found received the most praise.
Getting your friends, both male and female into craft beer can be tricky. But one must not give up!
The whole time I was writing this I wasn’t sure where it was going. Part pseudo-feminist rant, part anecdotal reaction to previous post.