I see men, but where are the women?

Women drink beer. This shouldn’t surprise you since there’s a pretty good chance you know a woman, or even several, who drink beer, or you are a beer-drinking woman yourself. Women also brew, package, sell and market beer. This shouldn’t be news to anyone who has been on a brewery tour, attended a beer festival, or have heard of beer industry big names like Irene Firmat- founder of Full Sail Brewing, Kim Jordan- co-founder of New Belgium Brewing, or even craft beer pioneer Carol Stoudt- founder of Stoudt Brewing.

While women brewers are becoming more and more common in the modern craft brewing movement, there are still relatively few. Historically, brewing was done by women. Yet today brewing is seen mostly as the domain of young bearded men.

Beer is genderless and there is nothing strange about a woman drinking a beer. However, there is a significant difference in the number women and men who prefer beer or brew beer. Based on combined data from Gallup polls conducted from 2010 through 2016 about 54% of men preferred beer as opposed to 23% of women.  50% of women preferred wine where only 18% of men.

So why do more than twice as many men prefer beer than women? And why do nearly 3 time more women prefer wine than men?  I believe that the answer may be a combination of marketing, and stereo typing.

There has been a lot of criticism recently directed at the way beer is marketed and labeled. TV commercials and print adds usually depict men enjoying a beer, and when women appear in beer commercials or adds they are usually scantily clad women and serving beer to men.

Additionally, beer labels and beer names are often offensive to women and degrade women by objectifying them or playing on negative stereo types. Here are some examples of beer names: Leg-Spreader brewed by Route 2 Brews, Hoppy Bitch brewed by Northwest Brewing, Bitch Slap brewed by Pig Minds Brewing Co, Panty Peeler brewed by Midnight Sun Brewing, Thong Remover brewed by Village Idiot Brewing,  Naughty Girl brewed by Right Brain Brewery, Double D brewed by Dominion Brewing, Bare Ass Blonde brewed by DuClaw Brewing, and Tramp Stamp brewed by Clown Shoes Beer. The pictures that accompany these beer names depict women as promiscuous, scantily clad, or just plain crazy.

These types of beer names and depictions might very well be part of the reason some women prefer not to drink beer. Imagine if the tables were turned. Sound silly or over sensitive? Would your average guy reach for a beer called Woody Ale with a picture of a guy with his legs wrapped around a tree on the label? I can tell you that I personally wouldn’t be too excited to put my lips on a bottle depicting a guy dry humping a tree.

Of course, on television and in movies women are nearly always drinking wine while the men around them are drinking beer, reinforcing the stereotype that women drink wine and men drink beer. Have you ever watched Cougar Town, Sex and the City, or even The Big Bang Theory?

If women are being discouraged from drinking beer through advertising, beer names, beer labels, television shows, and movies, is it any wonder that not only do fewer women drink beer and even fewer women decide to go into brewing?

Women may not be intentionally discouraged from drinking and brewing beer, but the results are the same. About 77% of women prefer to drink something other than beer, and as a result would not likely consider a career in brewing. That is a lot of potential customers and a lot of potential brewers.

Perhaps before we name our beer and print the label, we should ask ourselves if we would feel comfortable serving it to our mothers or daughters.  I know I would be a little embarrassed to serve my mother Leg-Spreader, no matter how good the beer.