I’ve mentioned before that my craft beer journey began almost ten years ago. As we all know, the craft beer industry is still a very much male-dominated industry; and ten years ago it was even more male-centered. Throughout the last ten years, I feel that at times I have had to “educate” people that yes, women not only enjoy craft beer, but we also know a thing or two about it. Throughout this post, I want to share some of those times where I felt I faced some discrimination as a female craft beer drinker.
Back in 2012, I was married to someone who looks like your “typical” craft beer drinker. He is 6’4, he is 290 lbs, and he has a full beard. When people have a stereotypical craft beer drinker in their mind, it perfectly matches my ex-husband. The thing is though…he didn’t drink beer. In fact, he despised it. He only drank ciders or vodka-based cocktails. When we would go out guess who was always given the beer menu? Guess who was always told about the newly released beer? Guess who was always given the beer even after moments prior he ordered a vodka drink? At the time we would just laugh to ourselves and switch drinks. As time went on though I became frustrated. Why can’t people assume we BOTH might like to see the beer menu? Why can’t someone remember that I was not the one to order a vodka drink?
When I walk into a bar or brewery I am able to confidently order my beer and I already know what styles I will enjoy. Yes, I understand that not everyone is comfortable doing that, but it is frustrating when people want to question or “educate” me on my order before they actually serve it to me. A few years back I was at an Orlando bar where I ordered a Gose. I enjoy the lemon/saltiness flavor of them, especially after spending a day in the hot Florida sun. When I ordered the Gose the bartender immediately gave me a look, and responded with, “Are you sure? It is a type of beer not many people enjoy.” I reassured him that I wanted it. He came back moments later with a taster of the beer and told me I should really try it first because he doesn’t think I will enjoy it. I once again had to reassure him that I’ve had this beer before, and I am confident in my selection. Maybe he thought he was being helpful, but it had me wondering, would he question a man ordering the same beer?
My last two stories are the ones that probably infuriate me the most. They also both have happened with the same person. AJ has been my best beer friend (or my beer soulmate) since basically the beginning of my craft beer journey. Yet when we drink beer together I sometimes find myself disappointed in how I am treated vs. how he is. Pliny the Elder is a beer you cannot get in Orlando. It was also a beer that a few years ago EVERYONE wanted to try. AJ got his hands on a bottle and asked me and another one of his friends to meet him at a local Orlando craft beer bar to open the bottle. When we got there all three of us ordered some beer and began to make beer small talk with the owner. When he saw that AJ brought the bottle of Pliny with him, he allowed us to open it up and share it amongst ourselves, him, and his bartender. The owner then went back to his office to bring out a beer he wanted to share with “us.” Why the “us”? Because he poured three glasses. One for AJ, one for AJ’s male friend, and one for himself. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. I was at his bar, supporting his business by drinking craft beer, discussing craft beer with everyone, and drinking Pliny…yet he didn’t think I should get a pour of the beer he wanted to share. Luckily AJ saw what was happening and saw how upset I was, that he offered to share his beer with me. Needless to say, we quickly finished up and left. I haven’t been back to that bar since.
My last experience I want to share also happened with AJ, but this time it happened in Boston. AJ moved back home to Boston, and my husband and I decided to take a trip out to see him. At this time I was very early on in my pregnancy, so I wasn’t drinking. One evening we stopped at a liquor store so my husband could pick out some local beer. While my husband was looking around AJ and I noticed that some of the staff were giving out tastes of some of the beer they just got in. I walked up with AJ and we were asked what we wanted to try. Being pregnant I obviously said none for me. The employee then responded with “are you sure? I have some fruity “girly” beer you can try.” “Girly” beer is NOT a thing. I know of several men who enjoy heavily fruited sour beers. Also, don’t assume that the only beer a female can enjoy is a “girly” beer.
I don’t want this post to come across as me being overly negative or thinking EVERYONE in the craft beer community assumes females know nothing about beer. In fact, I have had way more positive experiences than negative ones. Also, all these experiences have happened at least 3 years ago. I honestly feel that the craft beer community is growing and becoming more accepting of females and even minorities. However, there is still a lot of work to do. Sometimes I think women don’t drink beer because they feel intimidated. If you have a female friend who shows interest in craft beer, help them out! Introduce them to the beer you think they might enjoy. Take them to your local breweries. Don’t make any assumptions on what they will or will not drink.