“Hi, my name is Kat, and I like beer.”
No, I’m not a member of the AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or even of the AB (Anonymous Beerlovers), this is how I usually introduce myself when I meet new people. Why? Not because I think beer drinkers are an identifiable group like Lambrini Girls, but because beer is what I love.
Drinking beer, talking about beer and writing about beer is my bread and butter, and it’s a passion I share with my nearest and dearest. Not that all of the ones fortunate (or unfortunate, however you view it) enough to be in my inner circle are as excited about all things ale, but I admit I have surrounded myself with people who share, or at least tolerate my love towards it.
Today, I wanted to discuss a topic I have touched upon in previous blogs and which is very close to my heart; women in beer. Or more likely, where are they? More often than not, in the pubs I frequent, the beer events I attend and when talking about beer, I notice a vast lack of female participants. Ladies who I do encounter in said venues are there to enjoy a cocktail, a glass of wine or a cider. I’m not advocating against these beverages and am myself known to sometimes enjoy a tipple of this kind every so often, but it does leave me wondering: why are more women not enjoying ale?
It’s not as if there is an actual void of women in the industry. There are plenty of extremely talented women brewers, accomplished authors and talented bloggers out there. Research it, and you find even more ladies who are commercially or personally inclined to talk and produce ale. Why can’t we see them in the pubs? Where are these ladies hiding?
Historically, the majority of ale for both domestic and commercial use in England was brewed by women. When the beer industry took off, men overtook the process. Take of that what you may but the fact is the majority of brewers at this time are male. That is not to say that there aren’t women in the industry, but why are there so few of them?
In Chester we do have a strong albeit small female presence in our pubs, and I have the pleasure of knowing the majority of them personally, or at lest to follow them on twitter. They know their IPA from their porter and are very vocal about their tastes. I personally have never experienced any form of dissing from my male counterparts about being the minority gender in beer, and can’t say anyone I know has either (if I am uninformed on this, please correct me). In fact, this subject quite often comes up when discussing beer and those who drink it. It’s not a secret society or an exclusive club, this group of beer enjoying individuals. And if it is, getting a membership is as easy as… well, enjoying beer.
Now. I am by no means saying that the ladies have to drink beer just to infiltrate a somewhat male dominated area. If they enjoy their wine and their cocktails, by all means, continue to do so. But what I would like to know is why is beer not appealing to them? Beer is not your average John Smiths or Guinness anymore (thank you craft beer!), there’s an absolute plethora of different kinds available, and Chester can boast numerous establishments where even the rarest kinds are readily on offer. We have light hoppy ales, fruit beers, sour beers, black lager, several types of stout and even champagne beer, to just name a few. If you don’t like one type, don’t fret! There’s always something else to try. Or are there some boundaries that just cannot be crossed? And if so, what are these boundaries?
My challenge to you, should you accept it, is next time you frequent your local, attend a beer club or festival, bring your wife, your girlfriend, your friend or co-worker with you and introduce them to an ale. Next time you have a meal, try matching it with a beer instead of wine. Hell, suggest they try a beer cocktail (I know a few puritans who might want to whip me for even suggesting it but I’ll take my chances here). Maybe they don’t know it’s a fantastic tipple readily available in fantastic venues. Maybe they never thought a great beer can match if not top any cocktail or cider.
And maybe next time I introduce myself to someone, they will respond “Me too”.