Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"Give me a woman who loves beer...

...and I will conquer the world." - Kaiser Wilhelm, German Emperor

I find myself hesitantly drawn to the whole "women and beer" topic because it seems to have more attention than I think it deserves. So now I'm curious. What IS it about women that some beer companies want to figure out? Consider this thread on, for example, about a beer tasting geared toward women that featured fruit beer & coffee stout - as if for some reason women wouldn't like a Geuze or Imperial IPA or Porter or Pilsner. Why pidgeonhole women into some random category based on preconceived notions that we only like sweet, fruity things? We also drink grassy white wines and dry, spicy reds - but you don't see wine retailers holding women's wine tastings featuring only Arbor Vines and White Zin.

ScarlettLady on summed up the "women and beer" stereotype well: "When it comes to advertising, ladies are only for serving beer, not drinking it. And it's not just the Big Boys. I recently received an eNewsltr from a local craft brewery that suggested I drink their beer while out on the town 'where lovely ladies take their clothes off for money'."

Even an (older) article on about macro breweries "overhauling" their advertising tactics to tout the "finer" aspects of beer still had a picture of a woman in a bikini (the image you see on the right). So much for an overhaul.

To be fair, a lot of breweries ignore gender differences, period. I never see Rogue, Schlafly or Boulevard using bikini-clad women in their advertising or holding a "women only" tasting. It seems to work; I've never had the impression that Schlafly was trying to cater to women or, alternately, using them to pander to men.

Clipper City Brewing Co in Baltimore takes a different approach: they regularly host a Ladies' Beer Night that features a variety of beer, not just the sweet or fruity ones, to broaden women's exposure to beer.

So, what do you think? What's the better approach? Cater to women or ignore gender lines? Is there a happy middle-ground?

One woman is determined to get to the bottom of the issue by coordinating a handful of women + beer events in both Kansas City, MO and Ames, IA. Here's a snapshot of the upcoming events in KC. I plan on attending the one 7/17, so perhaps I'll see you there.
  • July 15th: Boulevard Event, Boulevard Brewing, Kansas City, MO (Full)
  • July 16th: Private Event – Tasting & Pairing
  • July 17th: Gordon Biersch, Women’s Focus Group, 2 – 4 pm; room for a few more. Come ready to talk about beer.
More information, including how to RSVP, can be found on her site.


  1. Interesting question. Perhaps the female demographic the craft brewers want to reach really need a customized message because the overwhelmingly majority no longer even consider beer as a beverage option because all they know are crappy American lagers and the marketing of said swill which incessantly associates beer with ignoramuses.

    However, no matter how hard it may be to reach that audience, better to be gender neutral than even a hint of condescension.

  2. Those stereotypes do exist for a reason, but not the one you're assuming. Breweries market fruit-infused beers to women not because that's all women buy, but because those beers are bought almost exclusively by women. There's a subtle but important difference in language there. Women buy other stuff too, but when it comes time to promote a fruit-infused beer, it only makes good business sense to target the demographic in which those products traditionally sell well.


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