The title says it all, my wife, a woman, drinks beer. Not just light beer and fruity beer, but hop-bomb double IPAs, yeast centric and funky Belgian styles, she even tries some barrel-aged sours. She knows what she’s talking about too! We often taste beers together and her thoughts are critical in many of my reviews (she also acts as my editor so if it wasn’t for her input most of my posts would be a mess of grammar/spelling/word choice blunders). It is amazing to me that a woman drinking/appreciating craft beer is still a surprise to some people. There are women who play important roles in all aspects of the craft brewing industry. Craft Beer Cellar, the ground-breaking beer-centric chain of stores, was founded by two women. Many local craft breweries have women as owners, brewers, and in many other critical roles. Every time I am in a craft beer bar or at a beer festival I see the full spectrum of people sampling and enjoying amazing beers.
Despite all of the progress in the industry there are still many people who consider beer a man-centric drink. It seems like every couple of weeks there is an article about beers that are “brewered for a woman’s taste” or beers “you could get your girlfriend to drink”. I won’t link to these articles and support their writers, but they are easy enough to find if you want to look. I’m not sure how much of it is ignorance on the part of the authors and how much is willful trolling, getting extra page views by posting an article that you know will piss some people off. The same things can happen at bars, where too many servers assume that women would prefer wine or cocktails to a beer, or they talk down to a woman looking at a beer menu. My wife had this happen to her this past week. I was going to recount the story here, but decided to give her the chance to tell it in her own words, along with her thoughts on being a woman who enjoys craft beer. Introducing, in her Hoppy Boston lead writing debut, my lovely wife:
When I was six my parents told me that I would not be able to dance and play baseball since the practices, recitals and game times coincided. They gave me a few days to make what at that time was probably the biggest decision of my life. I’m not exactly sure why I chose baseball, but for the next six years, I was one of the few females to take the field. I loved it! Not everyone though loved that a girl was playing baseball. Snide remarks (often sexist) could be heard coming from the stands, and almost always from fathers of players on the opposing team. I tell this story because those same feelings I experienced as a pre-teen are parallel to how I feel about being a craft beer lover at times.
Last week I was out to dinner with a female friend (who also happens to enjoy beer). While my friend went to the bathroom I perused the beer list. The waiter came over to alert me that the wine and cocktail list were on the last pages. I said thanks and when my friend returned I immediately recounted the story. I scanned the other tables quickly and did notice many women with cocktail or wine glasses in front of them. Taking a lead from the movie Frozen, I let it go. Or so I thought. The waiter came back to ask if we had any questions about the beer (fine), took our order (fine), then asked me what size beer I wanted (usually fine, but…). Before I could answer, he pointed to my water glass and said “This is a pint.” I nodded and perhaps said “Yes, please.” As soon as he left my friend and I once again wondered if this was how women beer drinkers are commonly treated.
Now in retrospect I could have said something, but at the same time looking around the establishment, I realized perhaps given that the majority of women were not drinking beer, this is all the server knows to be true. Still, servers need to understand that they should never judge a book by its cover. (And I can say this because I was a server back in my early 20s). Beer drinkers come in all shapes, sizes and genders!