Last week we headed towards the Cellar bar, on a Wednesday night, as you do. We had both lived in some kind of a Twitter-blackout as we hadn’t even noticed the numerous adverts and hollers about the Meet the Brewer night they had on. In our defence, we had been up to our ears (and then some) with work related immediacies and it just completely slipped our notice.
Luckily we’re sharp enough to notice that something was a’brewing when we arrived and after a quick check we were on the ball of what was going on. Not just hat racks, no sir’ree.
We had the pleasure of tasting and appreciating beers from the mighty Hawkshead brewery. They have been brewing traditional beer styles with what they call a modern twist in the Lake District, of Northern England, since 2002. By all accounts they have gone from strength to strength in the last 12 years as on a yearly basis ever since conception, they have won numerous CAMRA awards as well as awards from different committees and beer festivals all over the UK.
Anne Jones, the sales manager of Hawkshead Brewery was presenting the beers they had on offer. She was kept very busy by the enthusiastic patrons, but we managed to steal a moment of her time, in between the very, very clever cheese and beer pairings she offered.
Anne told us that she personally knew the owner of the brewery, who had asked her to come and sell beer for him. She confessed she knew nothing about beer beforehand, but committed herself into getting to know beer. And that she did! Meeting her, we would have never guessed she joined the company as a beer novice, her knowledge on the produce, the brewing process and her expertise in how to match the beer with different cheeses and condiments were nothing if not impressive.
We also chatted about the subject which seems to raise its head from time to time; women in beer. Anne is very knowledgeable about beer, she is to a degree self-taught and draws her opinions from her own experiences, which is the way it should be with every beer-lover. She is as comfortable talking to large audiences as she is to a smaller gathering of like-minded people, and takes in all the comments she receives as a form of market research. We wanted to know if Anne had ever felt uncomfortable or if she was made to feel like she was entering an “all boys club” when she took on her role, but she never did. In fact, she felt welcomed to the fold, which left her wondering the same as we did; why are there no more women who are as passionate about beer as we are?
We discussed our previous post about women in beer (you can find it here) and Anne was very agreeable to our theory that perhaps some women don’t know that beer isn’t just your average pint of John Smith’s or Guinness, that all lager is not Stella or Heineken. Perhaps they don’t know about the beautiful uplifting aromas of grapefruit and pine, surprisingly combined with a tangy citrus flavours finally balanced against a deeply rich, malty body. I just described a pale ale close to my heart. Points to anyone who spots what it is. Seriously though, perhaps if women knew there were so many different kinds of beer around, they would at least try more of it. It’s never going to be everyone’s cup of tea (or pint of beer, whatever) but how can you dislike something you’ve never tried?
I almost sound like my mother when she tried to make a toddler- sized me eat broccoli. But you get my point.
Perhaps if ladies could enjoy beer without the men, without preconceptions of the drink or the drinkers, they would be more agreeable to give it a try. Anne told us about the Ladies Nights’ she’s arranged in near-by cities, where the entry-requirement is to be of the female gender and to have purchased a ticket in advance. These events have been a huge success and have been educating as well as entertaining, and the feedback has been very positive: women enjoy beer, they just need to find it!
So before we knew it, we offered to arrange a Ladies Only beer event in Chester, if Anne would come to present it. Hands were shook and we set about thinking about what we just agreed to do. I am willing to bet my head on being able to find at least 10 women willing to attend such an event, and if those 10 women brought just one colleague, friend, cousin, sister, mother; any beer novice with them, we could spread the love and encourage more women to come to the fold.
What say you, women of Chester? Are you up for a challenge? Can #ProjectPlusOne take the next step? Discuss.