Friday, July 17, 2009

An Afternoon with Women Enjoying Beer

It's been a while since I last posted, hasn't it? Life's been good. And busy.

Since my last post, Beer Sort of Girl opened up her home for Brew Day 2.0 and two more batches of brew were brought into existence. I went to Minneapolis for a week and loaded up my suitcase with beer from Surly. I've had both Cynic and Bitter Brewer by them and have been impressed by both. I also picked up cans of Furious and Coffee Bender and can't wait to try them. Surly's one of those breweries that has a huge local, almost cult-like, following. But, unlike so many craft breweries that receive so much loyalty, Surly actually deserves it. Their beer, so far, has been pretty damn good. And they put it in cans to boot. I'm doing what I can to bring it to Kansas City, sixteen cans at a time. (A few months ago, Bull E Vard was in Minneapolis drinking Surly and appeared to have similar sentiments.)

And now here we are, another week under my belt. As I sit at Flying Saucer drinking my goblet of Boulevard's Tank 7, I'll post about today's goings-on: I had the great fortune to participate in a focus group geared toward - what else - beer. Specifically, women and beer. There were six of us in the group, plus our two hosts Deidre and Ginger. Al, the General Manager at Gordon Biersch in the P&L, was gracious enough to host the event and provide us with tasters and snacks. (The current seasonal is a delicious Kölsch, by the way. And I was pretty proud of myself for identifying it as such without a single hint.)

I was surrounded by a great variety of women, including beer enthusiasts, the corporate trainer for KC Hopps, a writer for the Examiner, the Executive Director of the Kansas Women's Business Center. And, in my typical form, I had left my notepad at home and my business cards in the car. As we sat together drinking our samples, we talked about how beer is perceived by the genders, how the genders are perceived by those in the industry, how beer plays a part in our lives, and other relevant topics. Our afternoon was finished off by a fantastic tour led by James, the brewer at KC's only Gordon Biersch. He went into quite a bit of detail about the ingredients and brewing process, which was quite impressive. He even brought up the REAL history of the Reinheitsgebot, which was actually a law enacted to control the availability of various grain to brewers, versus that made available to bakers (the bakers won).

I have to admit, I've been skeptical of this whole "women and beer" thing. I don't want to be treated differently about my beer preferences just because of my gender. I don't want companies to condescend to me or talk to me like I don't know anything about beer because I'm female. Fact is, the market *does* treat me differently, whether I want it to or not. Ginger and Deidre have a pretty good grasp on this fact and are seeking to better understand it - then share their findings with companies in the industry.

I wish them both the best of luck in their adventure and may be just a teensy bit jealous as well. After all, who *wouldn't* want to travel around the country talking to women while drinking beer?

1 comment:

  1. Hi, great for me to read this and sounds like it was fun. I work for a company in the UK called BitterSweet Partnership (we’re a UK initiative set up to address the issue that the UK beer industry has always focused on targeting men and not women). The focus group sounds really interesting; as well as looking at everything from challenging beer advertising to addressing myths and preconceptions about beer, we’re conducting similar groups over here, to find out what it is women want. As you say, we really want to avoid anything that’s condescending. Our website is at – would be great to find out what you think...


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