Guest Post by The Brew Professor: “Women, Don’t Fear the Beer” Part I

[Ed.: So, we’re going to be doing something a little bit different today. Mike from The Brew Professor was kind enough to submit a guest post on my request. If you like what he has to say, keep an eye out on his site. I read it and think it’s good stuff. He gave us a very informative long form piece, which I am going to split up over the next couple days. Without further ado… -J]

Guest Blogger: The Brew Professor

The Brew Professor (http://brewprof.com) is a new Cincinnati beer blog covering everything from craft beer reviews to homebrewing to better beer stores to beer tasting events.  It’s another take on the world of beer for all you beer nerds out there, whether you like making it or just like drinking it.

 Women: Don’t Fear the Beer

Before I begin, let me start out by saying this mild diatribe will contain generous helpings of broad assumptions and stereotyping.  Most of this is observational “fact” that I have experienced personally.  So sit back, drink a beer, and soak it all in before you fire off the hate mail.  Now then…

The idea to talk about women and beer was originally suggested by my wife.  As my love for beer has evolved she has been along for the ride with me, albeit, begrudgingly at times.  A scant ten years ago, I couldn’t get her to even sip a Miller Lite (and for good reason, I suppose).  However, as a matter of convenience and cost it became easier and easier to convince her to just drink a beer instead of ordering some sort of frou-frou mixed drink.  Standing shoulder-to-shoulder at a bar on Reds Opening Day just doesn’t lend itself to trying to shout a mixed drink order to an overwhelmed and underpaid bartender.  Pretty much the same thing goes with wine.  But when she had her druthers, she would opt for the “not beer” drink. But, things have changed as the craft beer boom continues to surge.  Now she actually gets excited about discovering and trying new beers.  I’m going to provide some guidance on how an open mind and semi-adventurous spirit can bring you into the water, barley, hops, and yeast – beer – family.

Let’s have a quick look at wine.  The most famous of grape drinks is generally seen as more socially acceptable for women to imbibe.  Some irrational calorie counters may try to argue health benefits that it has fewer carbs, cals, etc.  Quit fooling yourself.  Wine is viewed as more sophisticated because of the myriad of wineries and growing regions and vintages and soil conditions and fermentation conditions.  Guess what.  Beer does all that and then some.  No, seriously.

I’m mostly preaching to the choir here, but real beer is not Bud Light.  It is not Heineken.  It is not King Cobra.  Real beer is ale and lager brewed with passion.  It is a blank canvas for craftsmen brewers to unleash their culinary creativity.   It is a libation uniting human kind (sorry, I’ll reign it back in).

Beer is 28 major categories of styles consisting of 66 unique styles.  And these are just the varieties that fall under the official BJCP, beer judging authority, style guidelines.  Beer flavors range from refreshingly light  to cut your tongue bitterness.  Don’t be fooled by color.  There are dark varieties that drink like they’re light and light varieties that drink like they’re dark   The amount of alcohol ranges from hardly measurable to knock you on the floor.

Another fact: beer is older than wine.  Yes it has been on this earth, accidentally, longer than those rotting grapes.  Archeologists have discovered Stone Age beer jugs for purposeful fermentation dating to 10,000 B.C.  Wine didn’t show up to the party in the Fertile Crescent until 7,000 B.C.

Okay, ladies.  Why is the craft beer movement mostly driven by men?  What is holding you back from trying more beer? In my experience, it is inexperience.

The problem with experimenting with real beer is that the selection process can be extremely intimidating (much like the paralyzing effect a wine store has on me).  First you need to find a decent craft beer store or be lucky enough to find a local grocery/convenience store that carries something not made by AB-InBev (the foreign-owned parent conglomerate of Budweiser).   Think wine shops, specialty markets, corner stores – generally, smaller local businesses.  You want to look for stores that feature beers brewed by small breweries around the region, country, and world.  I provide some local suggestions later.

Next, you have you have the daunting task of sorting through a wall of colorful and attractive labels to determine if what’s inside the bottle is worth forking out $10 or more.  Beware: there may be some sticker shock when moving from an $8.99 12-pack to a $8.99 6-pack.  Fear not, it’s worth the few extra bucks.  The additional investment buys you good flavor and usually a little more alcohol.  You won’t need to funnel six beers to get your Friday night started like you did in college.  When in doubt, look for a creative label.  I’ve been deceived by great artwork but discovery is half the fun.  Stay with me though, I have some brand names to look for when you are out and about.

Tomorrow’s post will describe my recommendations of the top three styles that lend themselves to the untrained palate and will let you stick your toe in the water.  These broad style categories include: wheat beers, saisons and farmhouse ales, and even some mild sour beers.  They are all delicious, light, and pretty easy to find locally.

Check back tomorrow for the second half of Mike’s post!

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22 Comments

Filed under Beer, Informational

22 responses to “Guest Post by The Brew Professor: “Women, Don’t Fear the Beer” Part I

  1. Tom Aguero

    Great post. I also hate ordering frou-frou drinks for my wife. The one thing I would add is for women, and men, to turn down no sample nor style. My wife has begun taking at least a sip of every single beer I try. Thus she’s tasted some of the best beers in the country, including Pliny The Elder & Heady Topper, and made an “icky” face at them.

    Then low and behold she keeps asking for more of my Rivertown Gueuze (so much so I had to explain that she can have some of the bottle in the basement… in a few years after it’s aged). Making me be slightly wary of what I wish for when I wish for her to enjoy craft beer more.

    Less shockingly was her enjoyment of New Holland Ichabod pumpkin and Mt. Carmel’s Amber, though the Ichabod was the only pumpkin beer she liked of 5 or 6 we tried.

  2. Annoyed and Offended

    I’m sure you were well-intentioned here, but as a woman who knows a lot about beer (maybe more than you do), this post makes you sound like a condescending prick. Your assumption that “women” not only don’t like, but actively “fear” drinking craft beer is not only ignorant, but insulting.

    From one blogger to another, if you’re trying to build a blog and a following base, you might not want to start by offending over 50% of the population. (FYI, I follow your blog, and follow you on Twitter, and have generally liked your stuff thus far. But this piece of garbage has seriously made me reconsider.)

    • Tom Aguero

      In his defense I’d advise 2 things.

      1) Re-read the first sentence: “Before I begin, let me start out by saying this mild diatribe will contain generous helpings of broad assumptions and stereotyping.”

      2) Go to any place that serves alcoholic drinks and ask every woman there what they’re drinking. The truth may hurt, but it’s still the truth and we all wish it were different.

      • Annoyed and Offended

        1) So I guess it’s ok for me to say something like, “I know this is racist, but Mexicans are terrible drivers.” I mean, I warned you, right? Because this is basically the same thing.

        2) Your scientific research methods amaze me, really. I think there are a lot more women drinking good beer than you think – and a lot of men drinking Bud Light and Michelob.

    • I disagree with this whole-heartedly. Popular culture has taught women that beer is for men and this has been largely followed by the better sex. His assumption that most women don’t like craft beer is true by all demonstrable statistics. Even today advocacy groups (Girls Pint Out, for instance) have to exist to tell women that it is OK for them to drink beer. I think you’re manufacturing outrage where none is due, but that’s just my opinion.

    • Are you really complaining about this? Next time you attend any function where craft beer is the focus…count the women…and then count the men. He is simply trying to make a statement that more women should try craft beer. He even warned the reader that he was going to poke a little fun with it. My wife agrees with this and she is right about everything (she is watching me type this).

      Step off the feminist soapbox and commend the guy for making a statement to level the gender gap in craft beer. The same argument could be made for men and the fear of wine. Cheers!

      • Annoyed and Offended

        Of course I’m complaining about this. I have every right to – its demeaning and condescending tone reinforces the exact cultural norms that have led to what joshosbo rightly identifies (although I bristle at the idea that anyone has to tell women it’s “OK” to drink beer, or do anything for that matter).

        But the fact that we’re talking about gender in the context of beer is just as offensive. Maybe I should write a post blaming men for the sale of the large majority of crap American beers like Budwiser and Coors Light? I’d wager that statistics would back me up on that one.

        So I’ll stay on my feminist soapbox, thanks very much. I like the view up here, even if your misogynistic statements are getting in my way. This guy’s “statement” does nothing to address any gender gap — all it does is try to set him up as some kind of authority to tell us ladies what we should or shouldn’t want to drink.

    • Jessica Thielen

      thank you, i agree wholeheartedly! why not address it to all of those who don’t like beer? i have plenty of guy friends who don’t like it, and plenty of female friends who are total craft beer snobs. it’s just a little bit lazy to theorize that chicks don’t dig beer as much as dudes because of your own limited anecdotal evidence. Also, some names of local and/or good regional breweries might be a bit more helpful than telling people to choose a beer based on its “creative label.”

      • I don’t have any hard evidence of the gender split but I doubt anyone else does either. Again, it’s my personal observation which could be way off base. I very willing to believe I’m way off base here.

        Also, part two has recommendations on large national and small local brewery commercial options.

        http://queencitydrinks.com/2012/11/30/guest-post-by-the-brew-professor-women-dont-fear-the-beer-part-ii/

        Also, there is nothing wrong with shopping by attractive labels. If you take the time to make your bottle aesthetically pleasing, you likely took the time to make your beer pleasing. Year to date I’ve logged over 400 unique beers and I will still shop by label. The hunt is half the fun!

        Hope the second part of the article is less offensive to you.

  3. Well, the article certainly sparked some passionate discussion. That’s good. And I fully agree that I may be completely off base but it was my observational opinion.

    Now, tone in text can be misconstrued but the real intention was to hopefully educate women (and men) a little bit about craft beer. As in most of my posts I try to have a little bit of fun with it and keep things light. I assure you I don’t take myself that seriously.

    Annoyed and Offended is absolutely correct that there are millions of men (and women) who drink garbage all the time. I’m still trying to convert one of my brothers and I use the same tactics I suggest in the article. But, as Beermumbo points out, look around at the large beer festivals.

    Again, there is no science or hard factual evidence. I also agree that it is very likely Annoyed and Offended knows more than I do about craft beer. That’s great! I hope you are as engaged as I am in trying to educate others about real beer.

    Cheers!

    Mike – The Brew Professor

    P.S. – I think Part 2 will be less offensive. But we shall see….

  4. I think a large problem lies with the beer companies and marketing efforts when it comes to “gender-specific” drinks. Marketing, sadly, plays more in our perceptions than we’d certainly like. Internally and externally.

    Why can’t women like craft beer? Why can’t men like cider? I ask these questions rhetorically, since neither of these questions should be raised in the first place. We should all be able to enjoy what we want and not worry about gender stereotypes.

    I’d like to point out this great piece at CraftBeer.com that touches on a lot of the points brought up in the comments: http://www.craftbeer.com/pages/stories/craft-beer-muses/show?title=women-craft-beer-and-centerfolds

    My general takeaway? Women are a growing and important part of the craft beer industry – both in production and as customers – and these general stereotypes mentioned above are quickly being changed.

    I’m sure we can all find some common ground around a good pint, after all.

  5. Pingback: Guest Post by The Brew Professor: “Women, Don’t Fear the Beer” Part II | Queen City Drinks

  6. Pingback: Repost: Women, Don’t Fear The Beer « Brew Professor

  7. I have to side with the feminist soapbox on this one. I understand that the tone was meant to be light hearted and flippent but let’s face it, most of the ladies who read this site are probably already pretty well versed in the intricacies of craft brewing and that audience would of course be offended to find themselves lumped with the sorority girls drinking skinny girl cosmos. And for the women who are reading who don’t currently know or drink beer, insulting the drinks they are currently enjoying is probably not the best way to convince them to try something new.

    This isn’t the kind of thing I would normally say anything about. I would, as the professor recommended, enjoy a beer and let my mild annoyance roll off my back. But I didn’t want to give the impression that Annoyed and Offended was alone on this one. There are countless little things like this when you are operating in a male dominated area of the culture, as beer appreciation does seem to legitimately be, and when you are a woman who enjoys that thing, you generally let the mild sexism go. But just because we don’t always speak up doesn’t mean it’s not there. I am sure that men who enjoy traditional feminine things get just as fed up with these little slings and arrows of the culture wars, although a man who likes “frou-frou” drinks is much more likely to get a ribbing for being girly than to have it implied that he just doesn’t know any better.

  8. Pingback: In response to “Women, Don’t Fear the Beer (Part I) | Queen City Drinks

  9. Pingback: In response to “Women, Don’t Fear the Beer (Part II) | Queen City Drinks

  10. Pingback: Dutch’s Bar, Bottle Shop, & Larder | The Charlie Tonic Hour

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