In truth, women have always enjoyed beer. During the 1700s it was commonplace for women to brew beer throughout Europe. It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that brewing was commercialized and men began taking over what was traditionally a woman’s task.
Today, women currently account for about 25% of beer consumption in the US. The majority of female beer drinkers fall into the 21-30 age range, but female beer drinkers over 50 are on the rise.
And women are not only drinking beer – we’re becoming part of the industry. Jennifer Yuengling and her sister, Wendy Yuengling Baker are the future owners of the world’s oldest brewery and currently oversee daily brewing operations. In 1987 Carol Stoudt of Stoudts Brewing Company in Adamstown, Pennsylvania became the first woman to found her own microbrewery. Women own and operate bars and others love the opportunities to experience new beer that bartending offers. Still others work in distribution, bringing great beer to your local pub or grocery store. And then there are the geeks, like me, who just want to drink and talk beer with whoever will listen.
What this means for the beer industry is a shift in how women as a potential consumer are regarded. Today’s female beer drinker isn’t looking for beer made with perceived female preferences in mind – light and tasteless. Just like the guys, women want robust beer that packs a punch. We enjoy discovering new flavors and complexities that we’ve never experienced and learning about new twists on traditional brewing. From self-proclaimed beer geeks, to those new to the craft beer scene to industry pros, at the end of the day, women simply want to savor the excitement of drinking a good beer. In their words, here’s why.
The beer geek (and columnist). My first experience with beer was 33 years ago, when I was five. My father, a young man himself, gave me a sip of his yellow, fizzy beer and I promptly spit it out. In my early twenties, I re-discovered beer (as a whole) as a way to make evenings out a little more festive. By my late twenties I discovered Guinness, which became my staple brew for many years to come. Over the years, I’ve experienced a myriad of different beer from cheap and yellow to pricey and delicious. As a huge beer geek I love to talk to brewers and folks in the industry to satisfy my intense need to “know beer”. I enjoy trying different styles and understanding how and why the beer was brewed in a particular fashion. I’m proud to say that I’m a woman and I love beer.
The newbie. Whitney McKim, a newcomer to craft beer is learning the ropes and enjoying the journey. She explains, “Craft beer isn’t just a drink, it’s an art form. You can really taste the brewmaster’s passion for creating something drinkable and unique. A true craft beer takes you on a journey; it’s for adventurers and wanna-be Indiana Joneses.”
The bartender. Erin Keele, a bartender at Lyon Hall in Arlington, has always had a love affair with beer. “I love the freedom of beer. The possibilities are limitless, and the most exciting things happening in the beer world are happening in American craft microbrews. As a bartender, I get to work with great beer from all over the world. Sometimes I find that people are surprised that, as a woman, I know so much about beer. I don’t know why we have the association that beer is a “guy thing”. After all, beer is complex and varied, has the potential to be extremely delicate, bold and even volatile…. and it certainly is sexy. Just like a woman.”
The industry pro. More and more women are now working in the historically male dominated beer industry. Julie Mann, On-Premise Sales Manager for Guiffre Distributing, began her career in the spirits industry, but is now an integral part of beer sales at Guiffre. “The beverage industry (as a whole) is a wonderful, upbeat and fun industry. The beer segment is still very much dominated by men and some of the same culture from ten years ago remains. I have grown accustomed to debating the importance of being knowledgeable about the brands and of educating consumers to increase craft business. There is surely some work left to do and in the meantime I tell the women in my department to keep their chin up and enjoy the positive aspects of the job – which far outweigh any negatives.”
Are You a Chick that Loves Beer?
Women are making gigantic strides in the beer business and are passionate advocates for the craft beer movement. We keep the industry on its toes and I, personally, look forward to the wonderful, hop-filled journey ahead. To that end, in May 2010, I decided to launch Chicks Love Beer (www.chickslovebeer.com), a community celebrating the woman’s perspective on and love of beer. The community consists of women from all walks of life who love to drink, discuss and appreciate craft beer. Since May, we’ve hosted tasting events, met up at beer festivals and shared info on our blog. I’m giddy with excitement that we were able to give women a place to share their love of beer and look forward to meeting everyone over the years to come!
We’re always looking for new ladies to share their experiences on our blog, so please contact me at email@example.com if you are interested in writing and want to be part of the fun.
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