Yes, Real Women Drink Real Beer
I’ll Have What You’re Having, Really.
Two years ago, I read a review of a new bar that had a fantastic beer line-up. Over 25 craft beers were listed in the review and the food was decent enough to deserve a “gastropub” label. I called a friend and said let’s meet up and check it out. They were going to have Stone beers I hadn’t seen on draft and we wanted to try them. I beat my friend to the bar, and it was nicely full. Not overly crowded but I could see it was doing well. I found two chairs and threw my coat over one to save and sat down in the other. I took a look at the list and found the Stone Smoked Porter on draft.
The bartender introduced himself, asked if I would need a food menu and what would I like to drink. I told him that I’d have a Stone Smoked Porter and his face lit up like a Christmas tree. I liked craft beer. So he brought me my porter and a small tasting glass filled with a bourbon barrel aged stout. Try this, he said. We’ve been friends ever since.
You feel like you’re in a secret club when you order a great beer and everyone around you is drinking a domestic light beer. You find others who have the same passion for great beer (and not coincidentally great food). The focus of the night out shifts from who can win the most games of beer pong to who can find the bar with the rarest craft beer. Maybe that comes with age, but my first beer was a German Hefeweissen when I was 17 and spending the summer in Germany, so I didn’t know how bad beer could taste until I was in college. I thought all beer was cloudy and unpasteurized until I was 20.
So far our experience with craft beer might sound similar. Here’s where it changes. After I ordered my Stone Smoked Porter and it arrived, a young professional sitting next me holding a domestic light bottle addicted to his blackberry takes a look at my drink and exclaims “that’s a big beer for a little girl!” loud enough so his swill drinking buddies all laugh. I politely smile and take my first sip of escape. Another time out, I ordered a Bell’s Hopslam (a hell of an IPA rocking 10% ABV) and a guy suggested I order a Blue Moon that he deemed “better” than my choice that I would like more. I don’t think that would have happened if I was a guy. It’s intimidating to always be told you could drink something better even when you know he’s wrong.
Sure, you may not expect to see a woman at the bar drinking craft beer, but you don’t need to mock her or her drink selection. I believe this might be part of the reason more women don’t drink craft beer. When we order a drink (not just beer), our male counterparts are quick to judge what we ordered as if they are superior drinkers. I’m not sure why this is. Drink what you like. Occasionally I want what craft beer snobs consider “girly beer” such as an Abita Purple Haze but I’m confident enough to go ahead and order it. At least I didn’t order a Mich Ultra, right?
The craft beer market is much like sports talk radio and geared towards men in general. Not many craft breweries make a push to cater to women drinkers. It’s not that breweries are pushing us away, but more that they are ignoring us all together. This has to change if they want to survive. Take the NFL for example. My first NFL jersey was a Peyton Manning boys medium and giant on me. Now I can order a pink glittery Peyton Manning jersey. Or a pink Vince Young jersey in a women’s fitted style. 10 years ago this was unheard of.
Breweries need to see that they should produce the same level of apparel for women that they do for men. I was so disappointed that Flying Dog brewery did not carry a Gonzo Imperial Porter shirt for women. They offer 1 women’s shirt, 1 hoodie, and booty shorts that say “Doggie Style.” Cute marketing, but the only person who might see that “Doggie Style” logo already drinks your beer. Some breweries are already getting it. Bells from Kalamazoo MI hosted an Oberon release party last year handed out womens Oberon shirts that said “Stop Staring and Buy Me an Oberon” as well as the prerequisite large and extra large shirts for men. Bells made sure everyone felt included in the swag giveaway.
I could go on and on about all of the things I think women are left out of when it comes to craft beer. With the number of beer blogs popping up by women, it’s a matter of time until we’re looked at as a growing segment that breweries should market to. In the mean time, I’ll continue to go out and drink great beer, meet great people and have an amazing time doing it. I’m happy that I can share my passion for great beer with good people and we should all look at it that way. So the next time you see a woman drinking a craft beer, engage her in conversation just like you would a man. She’ll appreciate it more than you know.
October 31, 2011 @ 10:48 am
I like women that like real beer and most of the beer drinking women I know can keep up with the guys beer for beer. They are no light weights just because they are women.
October 17, 2009 @ 4:44 am
tamra, just came across your blog about craft beer not being marketed towards the female masses, most home or craft brewers dont aim at a certain audience male or female most brew beer for the love of beer, what i brew today however and what ever i throw into the batch,honey, peaches 6oz of home grown hops, many styles of grains, chocolate, coffee, ect ect, i do it for the random, i do it to get a flavorful finished product. now whom ever want one can order/ try/ comment on the latest beer, more girls will try my beer and like or love them, i will get more feed back from the women about flavor/taste. random i’ll give some to some unsuspecting guy who new to craft and they are amazed you can brew this next to spaggetti o’s on your home stove, hence their foray begins into the craft beer scene begins, i’ll brew to brew, every one enjoy. try some thing differant next brew, not trying to put any label on who m/f should like it more or less, lets be independent in thinking all the way down to gender, chose your styles of brew try them all, sorry to the chick ultra guys you dont know what your missing, enjoy good beer, were lucky to have this craft fenom going on at this time in our lives.
June 23, 2009 @ 12:41 am
That my dear was nothing short of spectacular… I Bartend at Taco Mac, It’s a bar that has 100 Draft beers and 340 bottles. I have 300 pound guys come in and order a Bud Light, so of course I ask “Can I get you ice with your water?” But of course no one gets the joke. I will never again underestimate the power of women…
P.S. In case you were wondering, there is no sarcasm included (Seriously…)
May 13, 2009 @ 11:21 pm
Oh wow. As a Manager of a Northeastern Brew Pub…. I hear you loud and clear. I like beer, I always have! Good for you for putting all of this out there. I would never sterotype a girl into a light/weiss/wit type of gal…. I know… my favorite types of beer are anything smoked…any complicated porter or any un-too-fruity Wit…..and I hate when I o to buy a shirt from a Brew Pub to show my support and it is a Men’s XL! If You are ever in MA…let me know…. I will give you one of our women’s V-neck fitted Gerry Dof Stout T’s on me!
May 4, 2009 @ 8:29 am
I don’t understand why other guys think like that. I met my current girlfriend when I saw her at my usual bar drinking a Great Divide St. Bridget’s Porter. I got up from the table and left my friends wondering where I went. It was one of the best nights I’ve had, leaving with a phone number after three hours of beer and food talk.
May 3, 2009 @ 6:09 am
Love this article.
Blue moon > Hopslam. What a maroon. I don’t know where you live, but if you can get your hands on Surly Furious (Minnesota) you’ll be very hoppy.
April 30, 2009 @ 10:39 pm
Brava! I love women who love beer! My Ladylove and I are sitting with our laptops in the front room, I’m stumbling (Which is how I found your article) and she is looking for a Mr Rogers tune. I’m savoring a wonderful lager from that Little Brewery In Chico, while she’s enjoying a Belgian style tripel from the BOP that she works at. She’s definitely drinking the bigger one tonight. And I must say, you were very kind to those mocking louts..This site is now bookmarked, so I’ll be reading much more.
April 10, 2009 @ 10:36 am
Yessss…I’ve been writing about craft beer and food for 20 years and the flak that many women are subjected to about their choices never ceases to amaze me. Stereotypes are so annoying.
April 7, 2009 @ 1:24 pm
My social circle includes many craft beer fanatics of which I am one. I think one of the problems with women and craft beers is the perception, created by the mega crap beer brewers advertisements, that they would become big fat slouches if they drank quality beer. Now you can drink a 64 calorie crap beer, isn’t that great?! You do not have to worry about getting fat. And the hot studs at the pub won’t think you are a cultural illiterate because you should be drinking some lite excuse for a brew. So you will get a date if you drink our crap beer! As for me, give me a craft beer drinking lassie any day of the week and I’ll treat her like a queen! See you at Dark Lord Day!
March 31, 2009 @ 4:58 pm
Jane – for the record, my Indianapolis Colts jersey is blue. I don’t own a pink jersey, there’s no way I could justify that kind of money for a pink jersey. I was just using it as an example!
March 31, 2009 @ 12:59 pm
Nice article Tamre. While I don’t consider myself to be very knowledgeable about craft beer, I can be a bit of a beer snob. A handful of my friends understand my dislike for light commercial beers. Luckily, the Pacific Northwest has great pubs, craft breweries, and beer shops.
It all started with a tour of the Redhook brewery…Who can’t pass up about 2 pints of beer for $1?
For my birthday, my parents bought me a couple glasses of Deschutes Abyss (paired with an amazing dinner). What a beautiful beer! If someone had given that to me a few years ago, I would have scoffed and made a comment about it being “a meal in a glass.” Who knew beer could taste so good!
March 31, 2009 @ 10:27 am
Oberon came out yesterday and I’m in Heaven. Why have use margarine when you can have Butter? Drinking watered down beer is as creepy as instant coffee. I think more woman would like Beer if they tried REAL Beer. Yes I do have an Oberon Shirt and they do come in Small and XS. Not pink though, orange!
March 31, 2009 @ 8:05 am
Real women absolutely drink real beer. We do not, however, wear pink football jerseys.
March 31, 2009 @ 5:51 am
Great article, Tamre! Being a retailer of quite possibly the largest single store selection of craft and imported beers in the state of Indiana, I do cringe often when women pick up might-as-well-be water beer. OR they tell me they don’t like the taste of beer. I want to get into the habit of actually asking them what beer they’ve had. I have a firm belief that, given enough time, I can find a beer that someone will like, maybe even love, when they thought they didn’t like beer. I did it with my mother-in-law, everyone else is cake!
But my heart does swell when I do see a woman thumbing through some of the rarer imports and knowing what she’s looking at. Craft beer knowledge is most definitely growing in Indiana, and I love to see more women grow their knowledge in what has, in the past, been a male dominated area of interest.
March 30, 2009 @ 7:33 pm
Thanks for yr article! I am also a woman who loves craft beer and is forging a career in the industry, and I absolutely agree with that visibility counts in showing breweries, men, and fellow women that we are dedicated, informed craft beer consumers. My hope is that breweries also will recognize that they don’t need to change their marketing to get our attention (though properly-fitted apparel would be appreciated!). Offering ONE women’s option that is either pink or says “Doggie Style” is not a solution because it follows the stereotype that all women like pink or assumes that men will find a suggestive or sassy slogan on a woman’s shirt hilarious. It’s pretty simple: lay off the mainstream sexist trends in beer marketing and print the same logos on women’s-sized shirts.
March 30, 2009 @ 5:21 pm
Thanks everybody ~ I really appreciate the support!
Brad – I don’t know if my boyfriend would approve of a Big Love style union, but you never know.
I think that I do receive the hard time because I don’t live in an area that appreciates craft beer as much as Colorado. I’m from Indianapolis IN so although we have some great brew pubs, my favorite Indiana Craft Beer comes from 3 Floyds, which might as well be in Chicago.
Also, I disagree with Mike and Brad on the point that women want their beer watered down and light. I think they don’t know about great brews because they haven’t been exposed to craft beer since craft beer makes up such a small segment of the beer market. They drink what they saw their dads and uncles drinking.
So thanks again for taking the time to read my story and hopefully I’ll be able to write for The Full Pint again soon. Maybe about Dark Lord Day? (I have my Golden Tickets ordered!)
March 30, 2009 @ 1:40 pm
Great article. I laughed out loud when Mr. Domestic Light suggested Blue Moon over Bell’s.
March 30, 2009 @ 11:45 am
I definitely agree with you that there is a dearth of craft beer-related merchandise for women. I, however, haven’t really encountered any of the reactions that you described having noticed from men. I order a variety of craft beer types when I go out to bars and restaurants, and though I do notice a lot more men drinking craft beers at these places, I’ve never had anyone give me a hard time. Occasionally I will have someone start up a conversation with me about my beer choice, but it’s usually just out of interest or appreciation of the beer itself. Perhaps it’s a locational issue. I live in Golden, Colorado, and spend most of my time drinking in Golden, Boulder, Denver and Fort Collins. It seems that in large part, the culture of craft beer drinkers here is so much about the enjoyment of the beer that other issues like gender and age are secondary considerations. Of course, it could just be that I’m oblivious.
March 30, 2009 @ 11:41 am
Oooh, I feel the pain. I had a guy tell me once that Sam Adams was a guy’s beer. He thought it was a compliment, I think.
Brad’s comment that “a majority of women simply don’t like the taste of beer and would prefer it to be light and watered down” is a little simplistic. And possibly puts him dangerously close to the guy that thinks “that’s a big beer for a little girl”! (Sorry ’bout that, Brad.) After all, most MEN prefer their beer light and watered down – hence the still amazing sales for such great craft beers as Coors, Miller, and Busch.
It would probably be more accurate to say that most Americans prefer their beer light and watered down, because that’s really what we’re talking about here. And it’s marketed to men, not to women – women in beer ads are generally nothing more than eye candy put there for the guys.
March 30, 2009 @ 11:29 am
Seems like the big problem is some men’s perceptions, and you can run into people with narrow views anywhere you go. It is pretty strange that brewery apparel isn’t in women’s sizes though.
I do have to agree with Brad that a lot of women don’t care for the taste of beer, but I was watching a interview with Jim Koch, Sam Adam’s founder, and he said Samual Adams has 8 tenths of 1 percent of the American beer market.
Not even 1 percent of the beer market! Unfortunatly, most of America likes their beers light and watered down. I’m ashamed to admit that until a few years ago, I preferred much the same.
I’m just glad I live in a place (Colorado) with so many craft brewers, and where the liquor store has a huge selection of fine beers.
March 30, 2009 @ 10:31 am
Tamre, will you marry me? (if my wife agrees)
GREAT stuff here.
Though I’m not so sure about a main reason women not being big craft beer drinkers has to do with their male counterparts giving them sh*t. I honestly think most / a majority of women simply don’t like the taste of beer and would prefer it to be light and watered down. Sad but true.