Women and Beer

I just read through the October/November Ale Street News and was disappointed to discover that Ms. Mug (Lauren Clark) is moving on to “other pursuits”. I wish her well in them and hope they continue to involve beer.

Her final column attempts to answer the question, as posed by Lew Bryson, “Why is craft beer so male-dominated: brewers, retailers, consumers? Do women not get craft beer, do they get the impression that they shouldn’t get craft beer? What’s up?”

The explanation Clark arrives at is fourfold: a history of male dominance since the industrialization of brewing, that male alcohol consumption tends to be more socially acceptable, the “really geeky, insider-y” nature of craft beer, and differences in tastes between young women and everyone else.

For the most part this explains things, but I’m not sure it adequately shows why brewing is different from law, engineering, or other fields that have a history of male dominance.

Is male alcohol consumption more socially acceptable now? I could see this going either way.

Craft beer is most certainly geeky, but when has that ever stopped women? Some of the biggest geeks I know are women. The biggest beer geek I know is Jan the Beer Baroness at Steve’s in Madison!

Finally, her point regarding the tastes of young women: “Womens’ preference for ‘sugar and spice and everything nice’ seems to diminish as we get older and our palates become more sophisticated. I mean, who is drinking all the fruit- and vanilla-flavored martinis? Mostly people in their twenties, who haven’t developed a taste yet for spirits.”

I’m sorry Ms. Mug but I have to disagree. You are right that young women drink alot of fruity drinks. However, the biggest fans of craft beer, men and women, are in their twenties. Many middle-aged men appreciate good beer but they tend to buy classic imports rather than investigate new beers. Middle-aged women just tend to drink wine.


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