My latest Condé Nast Portfolio column is up: "Half a Market Waiting." It's some New Year's resolutions for the brewing industry: try marketing to women, you dimbulbs. Women are estimated to be 25% of the American beer market, but you'd never know it from looking at beer ads (macro and craft, thank you).
Yet brewers run scared of wine and spirits taking sales away. Well, hell, boyo, you've pretty much rolled over on the whole female market, what do you think's gonna happen?! Who are these geniuses? Can I have their jobs?
Just kidding. I'm having too much fun with this one.
Lew, your article is wonderful! As a female beer fan, I find it quite refreshing. But there's something else out there that we need to discover, too. I think that many women are also resistant to beer because society tells them they should be, which your article touches on, in a way. So many of my female friends wrinkle their nose at beers and won't even give them a chance, which is very frustrating. Is it because ads offend them? Is it because they view it as an immature frat-boy drink? Or do chicks literally have different taste buds than guys? I find it perplexing...
I was interviewing Wendy Littlefield, the female half of Belgian-beer import firm Vanberg & DeWulf, and she told me about the times she pours her beers -- excellent beers, like Scaldis Prestige -- at wine events. She said women will come right up to her, another woman -- an elegant, well-mannered woman, I'll aver -- and tell her, "Oh, well, I don't really like beer," as if to say that she would of course understand and admit that she was just a spokesmodel and didn't really like beer either. It just pisses her off. I think it's social and hard-wired: I think that generally women have a preference for different beers than men -- female beer writers and enthusiasts have told me this -- although there is plenty of individual overlap.
My article did originally talk more about this, but my editor suggested, very wisely, that I hone it to a sharper focus.
I am a woman who loves beer. I am 30. My first alcoholic drink was a can of Busch at age 14. I hated it but I drank it anyway to feel accepted as most youth do. I pretty much avoided beer until I was 22, that's when my palate started to change. I thought all beer was gonna have that metallic, tin can taste, and chose to drink ciders or mixed drinks.
Then I discovered something called Sierra Nevada. This tasted so dramatically different...I realized I loved the bitter taste, an ale flavored with whole flower hops. Luckily there seemed to be more and more brands to try every month, and when I moved to Philly I really expanded and refined my tastes because the local crafts were everywhere.
Some women aren't into the hoppy beers, or prefer lighter beers because full-bodied ales and stouts make them feel too full [like my sister], so maybe for them I think that styles like belgian ales & wits, "dirty ho's" [hoegaarden+frambiose lambic], and maybe a better made pear cider would be good choices to market to towards women.
Now I work in the beer industry, and have done many, many, tastings and have found that most women who don't drink a lot of beer/don't know about beer prefer belgian style wits to IPA's in the tastings...but hey I am never one to box people in because palates can change and people can adapt..I'm living proof!
Lew, thank you for this article. It's something that's needed to be said for a long time. More women interested in beer (and interested in making beer) would be great for craft brewing and the beer market as a whole.
I like to think that when Lew Bryson talks, beer people listen. Let's hope so.
I'm a 3?-year old beer drinking girl who's beer drinking career started at age 21 with imports and quickly morphed to micros. I was never interested in the kinds of beer people drank at frat parties and under-age in corn fields, and I'm sure the ads that accompanied those beers contributed to my disdain.
I'm a lipstick hophead, and an advocate for Real Ale. I want to open Celebrator and Mid-Atlantic Brew News and see more people like me.
I'm lucky to have a small network of beer-drinking girls who share my passion for enjoying specialty beer. Now if I could just get them interested in brewing...
I'm not sure what to make of the Ladies' Beer Tea at Philly Beer Week. On one hand, I like the marketing toward females. On the other hand, what's up with the hat and gloves?!?!
Thanks for speaking out for us. Now, femme propogators, let's get loud!
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