Everyone knows that men drink beer, ladies drink wine. Sure, you may get the adventurous soul who orders a beer on occasion, but its best if she sticks to halves or thirds in case the pint becomes too much for her. A whole pint is far too gassy and calorific for the delicate lady figure, so it’s safer to order the wine or gin instead.
At least this is what you would assume if you performed a quick Google search of “women drinking beer”. The top results, “Here’s what guys think of women who drink beer” interviews a few insecure men about how emasculated they feel when they see a woman sipping a pint. A few articles down you will find “Women now drink as much alcohol as men”, a more balanced Guardian piece that still comes with a strict warning that women damage their health when they try to “drink like men”.
The bias is evident in the “real world” as well – from the advertisements we see on TV to the happy hour offers on cocktails and wine for the perfect “girl’s night out”. It’s hard to escape the message that our sex controls our palate.
It’s true that most women preferred tipple is a glass of wine over a beer. Whether this is down to personal preferences – or what women are told should be their personal preference – is hard to tell. Does a baby girl like pink because its girly, or simply because she’s grown up with her room, clothes and toys in that colour?
I decided to meet the ladies who don’t care whether they’re supposed to drink beer or not – they love a good pint. Some love it enough to take up brewing as a hobby while others have set up female-only beer societies, such as FemALE Pint, Ladies That Beer to Crafty Beer Girls. I put together a few simple questions in the hopes that I may be able to paint a picture of the women taking back the beer scene. I received nearly 100 responses back, and the results were astounding.
1. Ladies love the taste, complexity and variety of beer
Many women raved about the taste and complexity of beer. Teacher Jess Corlett told me she loved “the earthiness of it — that richness and complexity that I can’t seem to find with any otrher alcohols. Everything else tastes like chemicals!”
Lotte Peplow, a Beer Sommelier said, “I love the range of flavours and the variety of styles found in beer. It is so complex. From mouth–puckering sours to smooth and chocolaty stouts, there is a raft of flavour found in hops and a style to suit everyone.”
Sue runs the website Yay Retro and added, “I like the fact that there are always different beers to try and they are not sweet or cloying. Beer is a longer drink often with less alcohol so you can make an evening of it, without over-drinking. It’s very sociable and we’ve made loads of friends through getting into craft beer.”
The ladies pointed out that there are so many different types of beer and breweries to sample that it never gets boring – and with over 1,700 breweries in the UK, I’m inclined to agree! Coupled with a comparatively low ABV, beer seems to be a fun alternative to a head-splitting red/white/rose choice. Is good beer the best kept secret in the world of women?
2. Ladies will drink beer anytime
Ladies don’t wait for the “appropriate time” to enjoy a beer. Some will have a beer at home. Others when they are out with friends. Some just drink beer at BBQs or family functions.
Most women seemed to identify beer as the chosen drink for more relaxed occasions rather than a night out. This makes beer the logical choice for anyone hoping to cut down on the ABVs and give their liver a break. I’ll cheers to that!
3. Ladies are happy to head to the pub
I asked the ladies whether they enjoy visiting their local or if they find it too male-orientated. Sub-editor Cara Clark replied, “Pubs all the way. A solo pint on a walk is one of life’s glorious pleasures. A pint with others is even better. My mental map of London is built around the pubs!”
Emma Inch, Producer of Fermentation Radio Show told me, “I love pubs! Obviously some are better than others, but the presence of men doesn’t stop me from going there. The presence of bad beer on the other hand…”
Housewife Louise Warke added, “I like going to the pub, some pubs can be quite male orientated, however nowadays its very common to see more women drinking beer in a pub. They are a good place to socialise and chat with other pub-goers.”
Sorry men, but the ladies are here to stay.
4. A “lady palate” does not exist
I asked the ladies what type of beers they preferred, if there were any they avoided and whether they go for cask ale, lager or the ambiguously named “craft beer”. In return, I received a list of almost every beer under the sun – include a number of beers that I have never heard of before.
The only thing that I can gather is that the concept of a “lady palate” is nonsense, and that the women who drink beer really know their stuff!
So how do we define the “lady beer drinker”?
The main conclusion I can draw from all of this is that the women who are “in the know” about beer are fantastic at drinking it. They are not intimidated by the local pub or afraid to try a wide range of styles and flavours. They will not be pigeon-holed into cask, lager or craft beer drinkers. They may not drink beer all the time, but trying to pin down an “acceptable time” to drink beer is ridiculous. Furthermore, the number of ladies who drink beer are not only growing – they are talking to each other and building beer appreciation networks.
The lady beer drinker may be in the minority for now, but I don’t think it will be too long until the secret is out. The lady and the pint is quickly becoming a movement, and I hope the beer world is ready for it.
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