Beer, a guy’s favorite drink
Beer is a guy’s drink, most people may think. A boy becomes a man when his dad says, “Here, son, have a drink.” Beer is what guys drink while watching the game, standing around awkwardly at parties, and while fixing the car. Real beer guys even brew their own or at least can tell Sierra Nevada Pale Ale from Sam Adam’s Lager. Increasingly, though, more women are drinking beer these days, and moreover, they’re brewing it as well. There are a large variety of beers as well.
The latest survey shows however fifty-one percent of men described the drink as their favorite [alcohol] category in September 2013 vs. 54 percent last year. Interestingly, the magic juice is making strides among women: 26 percent of women in the survey named beer as their favorite alcoholic beverage in September 2013 vs. only 24 percent last year. Those increased percentages could be due in part to the craft beer industry, as women are more likely than men to say they were drinking more beer due to ‘finding new brands’ (39 percent of women vs. 36 percent men) and ‘finding new flavors’ (38 percent of women vs. 31 percent of men).
Not surprisingly, as more women drink beer, more become interested in brewing their own. In the U.K., the most influential brewer in the country is named Emma Gilleland, who heads up the supply chain at the country’s leading independent brewer, Marston’s. They crank out 60 different ales at five different breweries. And Sara Barton, who owns and runs Brewster’s Brewery in Lincolnshire (about a three-hour drive north from London), was named the British Guild of Beer Writers’ Brewer of the Year in 2013.
Roger Protz, editor of the “Good Beer Guide 2014,” told the BBC, “More and more women are setting up their own breweries and becoming head brewers at well-established ones.”
Of course, brewing used to be considered women’s work. Even before the invention of the liquid lunch, beer was considered food, and preparing food was what the ladies did in traditional societies. Because you have to boil water when you make beer, drinking it rather than water at meals was a lot safer before the invention of public hygiene. Even kids would drink it, and brewers came up with “small beer” — low- or no-alcohol brew.
Jane Peyton, alcohol historian, noted that Jane Austen knew how to brew beer, and probably did so as part of her household duties. At the very least, she would have overseen the brewing done by the domestic staff — when she wasn’t writing “Pride and Prejudice” or any of her other largely unreadable books (don’t bother emailing me unless you’ve read “Northanger Abbey” and can honestly say you liked it).
This might have a couple of interesting effects. First off, there is a science to brewing as well as an art. It doesn’t hurt to have a chemistry degree, or at the very least and understanding of it, to be a brewster. Might this be a way to entice young women into the sciences?
And there is a chance it will affect recipes. Barton said female brewers “use local, seasonal fruit, vegetables and spices to brew and play with flavours and people like that. They think of beer and how it goes with food, like you would with wine. They are also collaborative, into sharing ideas and innovating. They want to share the love…. Men can be tied to the more traditional ways of doing things whereas we think outside the boring, brown, bitter box. We’re not forever going down the hoppier, stronger route.” Leaving aside for the moment that some of the most stubborn, selfish and tradition-bound people I know are women, I don’t object to tinkering with what goes into the magic drink.
After all, I am pretty sure that men brew Coors, Bud and Miller. I can’t imagine a woman doing any worse.