“That beer’s pretty strong, are you sure you don’t want something sweeter?”
“Honey, what’s a young lady like you writing about beer?”
“Are you just drinking beer to fit in with the guys?”
These are all very real things both men and women have said to me: a beer-lovin’ lady. While there are various strides to improve things, society has sadly associated drinking beer as a “manly pastime.” Given that there are plenty of women who not only love to drink beer but are also essential in its production, there seems to be a serious problem of sexism in the beer community.
Women have a pivotal role in beer. They were the first to brew it, the first to introduce hops to it, and were the sole driving force behind its creation. Sadly, once brewing became a source of income, men almost completely replaced women in their roles in beer, slowly evolving the beer community into its present day misogyny. Given women’s history, how has society allowed beer to shift into such a “manly drink” that companies feel the need to specifically market beer for women? Instead of glorifying the female contribution, I’ve been seeing more and more dumbed down versions of beer. According to what society tells me, as a woman I will only enjoy a beer if it’s fruity, light, and in ~cute~ packaging. It’s not just women who suffer from this; men are expected to drink beer, and it better be dark beer or you’ll “lose your manhood.”
Thankfully, there are organizations such as the Pink Boots Society (PBS) who are actively paving the way for kick ass women in beer to succeed. PBS is a nonprofit organization created to empower women beer professionals to advance their careers in the Beer Industry through Education. On their website they write:
“We are the female movers and shakers in the beer industry. We get the beer brewed and fermented with the highest possible quality. We also own breweries, package the beer, design beers, serve beers, write about beer, and cover just about any aspect of beer, and we are all women. Most importantly, we teach each other what we know through our own seminar programs, and we help each other advance our beer careers by raising money for educational scholarships.”
Hell. Yes. Now that’s what I’m talking about. Women empowering women and normalizing their presence in the beer community. While Bellingham may not be free of sexism, I am proud of the breweries’ support of women in beer. During this year’s Bellingham Beer Week, Boundary Bay hosted the “2nd Annual FemALES – A Celebration of Women in the Beer Industry” where local breweries gathered together to help raise funds for PBS and shine a light on the fantastic women in our beer community. From brewery owners to shift managers to servers, women have a presence in Bellingham and it’s incredibly encouraging to see.
As a woman who prefers stouts over wine coolers and is fed up of hearing phrases like “bitch beer,” I would like to personally challenge beer corporations to stop advertising like this:
And instead, advertise like this:
Or better yet, don’t use gender in your advertising at all. Women are allowed to love beer. Men are allowed to hate beer. Stop typecasting and let people drink whatever the hell they want to.