Drink Up: Craft Beer Is No Longer Just a Man’s Game
I distinctly remember the first time I had a beer.
I was in college, and someone handed me a Budweiser in the foulest smelling apartment I had ever been in. I thought it was the best thing I had ever tasted, whether it was because I was so dehydrated due to sweating the entire walk over, or if it was the mugginess that hung in the apartment, but I drank the entire thing in minutes.
Since then, I have thankfully learned a lot (about beer, muggy apartments, and parties).
I found out about craft beer at another party, in a similar fashion, when I was handed a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and was told to “stop drinking that shit” after I brought a forty of Bud Light (so young, so naïve).
I started trying different beers, and learned everything I could about craft beers. What do you mean there’s different kinds of beers? What’s the difference between a Stout and a Pilsner? I embarked on a journey of beer knowledge, and was lucky enough to find a bar nearby (that I now frequent) that has one hundred craft beers on tap. YES!
What I also stumbled upon in my research, both then and now, is a lack of seeing women drinking beer, and finding words like “manly,” “man cave,” and “for Father’s Day” associated with almost every article that I read. I wasn’t offended – but surprised. I noticed that the notion that associates wine as a “woman’s drink” (which I never understood, I mean, have you seen a single mafia movie? Those bosses enjoy their good Italian wine) is the same as beer being a “man’s drink.”
Then came the real, in-my-face realisations of what it’s like schooling men who approach me at a bar:
“Wow, you know what an IPA is?!”
“How is it that you know so much about beer? Dad taught you?”
“Aren’t you worried about the calories?”
Apparently, not many men out there like being told or educated about something that is inherently “masculine”. The assumption as to why I know so much about beer is either tied to: my father, a boyfriend, or because I must be “one of the guys.” I’d also like to point you to this ridiculously sexist article that was posted on Thought Catalog. Thanks for the craft beer shout out, but we really don’t need any of those other ideas perpetuated. Plus, it still makes it seem like this rarity is a coveted prize for a man to behold. My eyerolling is getting severe now.
So why is it such an unfathomable idea that I like beer, and want to learn more about it?
There’s this preconception about beer being a man’s drink, a part of the man cave and the lubricant to male bonding that happens when the wives are drinking spritzers or some watermelon-infused-who-knows-what upstairs. To be fair, not many women I know enjoy drinking beer. A close friend of mine says that my favorite Summer Ale tastes like liquid body odour. But there is a population of women who drink, enjoy, and take beer seriously who need to be acknowledged.
As a fun history fact, women were here first. Since this is an excuse I hear from anyone on almost any topic to validate inclusion (I liked this band first! We did this first!), I feel it’s fair to point out that women were the ones in Ancient Egypt who sold and produced beer and, in the United States, beer did not become a male-dominated sector until the Industrial Revolution.
The other prejudice that makes many women shy away is because beer is seen as a high calorie content beverage, and women are apparently supposed to stay away from fatty foods and opt for skinny girl cocktails and 100-and-under calorie options. In a world where passive aggressive calorie-shaming is real – “I know I shouldn’t be eating this”, “Oh, well, this is going straight to my thighs” – drinking a beer is seen as out of the question.
Please, tell me how this is fair when beer bellies are glorified into ‘dad bods’?
Then, the issue of advertising craft beers comes into play. Not only are most breweries and careers that have to do with beer (beer reviewers and writers included) male-dominated, but also we have labels like this circulating the craft beer market:
Image courtesy of clownshoesbeer.com
Now, does this mean I’m going to start brewing my own beer, then plaster a sexy, shirtless man who, a la Ryan Reynolds, is standing a foot away from a caricature of myself while I drink out of a large brown bottle? Okay, maybe, if given the chance… In all seriousness, though, I acknowledge that not all advertisements for craft beers are offensive or portray women poorly. Some are brewed by women themselves. But, within advertising in general, there is an unbending bias that exists in the over-hyped sexual portrayal of women. With this being a “man’s game” and a “man’s world” for a huge part of the market, we need to level the playing field.
So I’m spearheading the campaign to get rid of this (and many other) sexist misconceptions. Who’s with me?
Next round is on me.
For anyone who wants to learn more about craft beer, here are some quick cheat sheets that will help:
Image Credit: Carlsberg Group