Get the Message: Women Drink Beer!

The inestimable Melissa Cole dug into her bag of outrage earlier today and came up with a mighty fistful of sexist bullshit, and bless her for it! Her examples are exclusively British, but the issue with sexism in beer — even more than sexism in spirits, and it’s pretty friggin’ bad over there, too — is widespread and global, and while it’s not as bad as it used to be, it can be still pretty egregious in some quarters..

Go read Melissa’s story over here.

What the brewers of beers like Slap & Tickle don’t seem to understand is that: a) women are beer consumers, too; and b) some men take offense at being treated like adolescent boys.

On the former point, one only has to turn to almost any beer festival, where females often seem as numerous as are males. (Although, to be fair, this is less the case at most European festivals than it is at North American ones.) Go to bars that specialize in beer and you’ll see women enjoying beer, often choosing from the more unusual offerings while the assembled males stick with their chosen brand. Stand outside of any store specializing in craft beer and you will find women leaving with interesting six-packs, perhaps not with the same frequency as men, but in steadily growing numbers.

On the latter, well, before I get comments about what a hopeless stick-in-the-mud I am and how I can’t take a joke,  let me say that among friends I have a  rather no-holds-barred approach to humour. But that’s because they know me and we understand each other. Where public advertising and product naming goes, it’s far, far more difficult to direct meaning or deliver nuance. What is put on display, be it a suggestive, boys-will-be-boys advertisement or a ribald pumpclip, will be judged for what it is, and a large number of mature and reasoned folk of both genders will judge it in the negative.

Worth considering the next time the topic of branding comes up in the brewhouse.


11 Replies to “Get the Message: Women Drink Beer!”

  1. I there is a fine line between cheeky fun and offensive, and that line is different for different people. For example I personally found the label for Bountiful to be silly and juvenile a la similar scenes in Austin Powers or Family Guy, but kind of funny, whereas the Slap and Tickle and Top Totty just look stupid. The best point was made in the comments on Melissa’s post is that if you have a silly name then the beer inside better be extra good, otherwise it will be assumed that gimmicky marketing is all you have going for it.

  2. ‘Some men take offense at being treated like adolescent boys.’

    Well said. Patronising advertising is patronising advertising in the end, no matter what gender you are. As I was writing this morning… Beer deserves better.

  3. What I’m seeing with my wife and her friends is a move to more flavourful beers. They are worried about calories so rather than go light/boring lager which isn’t going to satisfy the beer craving, they go for one good pint. I think that’s exactly opposite thinking to most beer marketing.

      1. That is merely one photo of the crowd from GABF. You will note that this is from the Brewers/Press entrance escalators. You will also see that several of the men in the picture are wearing orange shirts given specifically to brewers at the beer fest…. and that many more men in the picture are wearing badges which implicate them as brewers or trade.

        Yes, it is true that the majority of brewers in the industry are men. So, this picture does a good job in reflecting that fact. However, I can safely bet that the volunteers for the GABF are close to 50/50 when it comes to gender…. not to mention, lots of women also attend the fest.

        Is it 50-50? Eh, I can’t tell you based on my experience. But I can tell you that a lot of women do attend — and by a lot I mean thousands and thousands.

        As for other beer fests, I find that beers events in the Pacific Northwest are pretty gender neutral — at least the ones I attend. Could there be more women craft beer drinkers? Of course, but there can also be more male craft beer drinkers too…. after all, we are the 5%.

  4. Stating that beer has a gender and it’s not female is not only arrogant, it’s extremely ignorant.

    When you take into account the entire history of beer, women drinking beer is neither new nor novel. In fact, the first brewers in the world were women. Not to mention, women are often credited for inventing beer. And then there is goddess Ninkasi, the patron god of brewing.

    If beer actually did have a gender, it would be female. But then, don’t just take history’s word for it, let us look deeper into language shall we?

    Nouns in the romance languages are divided into two classification groups – masculine and feminine. And which category do you think they lump beer into? You guessed it!

    Italian: Birra — Feminine
    French: Biere — Feminine
    Spanish: Cerveza — Feminine

    Now, although history tells us that women invented beer, women were the first brewers, and that women consumed just as much beer as men for thousands of years, modern day statistics tell us otherwise.

    Societal standards have changed a lot in the past hundred years. There was a time when women were queen and priestesses and ran countries and armies, but roles have changed drastically over time. And so has society’s expectations of women.

    The reason women don’t drink beer today is not because beer is a masculine beverage, it’s because once upon a time society told us not to. And, as marketing messages begin to change and more and more women become educated and empowered, this is changing.

    There are a lot of women in the craft beer industry, but most people don’t know about them because they aren’t the brewers or the “face” of the company. People would be surprised to learn just how many women are really behind some of the best beers brands in the country. Someone should right about that sometime … hint hint.

    Thanks for standing strong in support of women and our love of beer, Stephen. As always, I love and respect your work.



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