According to the Brewer’s Association, 25% of weekly craft beer drinkers were women in 2016. There’s a lot of debate on efforts to generate female activity in the craft beer world: should we specifically over-target women or focus on eliminating perceived barriers first? Let’s see what a couple of prominent women in the craft beer world have to say about their time in the industry:
Julia Herz, Certified Cicerone and program director for the Brewer’s Association, weighed in on the Huffington Post
With tens of thousands of beer brands at local tap rooms and on brewpub and restaurant menus, I’d like to make the point that the controversy over sexism in beer advertising is isolated to just a few offenders. Most in the beer community would agree that beer is about being social and connecting people, and that alienating half of your potential customers is shortsighted…Simply put, most craft brewers treat and view beer as a gender-neutral beverage.
Herz has always been humble in her experience with craft beer, but she is considered one of the most prominent women working in beer behind the scenes. She has written a book, been a beer judge, is always home brewing, and on top of that has created a free beer and food course.
Lisa Morrison, co-founder of Barley’s Angels, has a more critical view of the craft beer world
In many cultures, beer is often thought of as a man’s drink, thanks to big-dollar advertising for decades that has insinuated that if a man drinks that particular (big) brewery’s wares, he will be funnier, stronger, richer, and sexier.
Barley’s Angels was founded in part to create an environment for women to drink and explore beer, and a chance to work with breweries and public beer establishments focused on craft beer. The hope is through creating chapters all over the world, we can widen the spread of female consumers and increase education and revenue.
Another group founded with women in mind is the Pink Boots Society, with a focus on women beer professionals, internationally supporting them through scholarships and networking opportunities. Teri Fahrendorf founded the society in 2007 and it is now comprised of women working in or retired from the beer industry: brewing beer, owning a brewery, distributing beer, marketing beer, serving beer, and writing about it. Fahrendorf was on a cross-country trip visiting 71 breweries and brewing at 38 of them when she realized other women in the beer industry felt just as alone as she did.
It became clear to me that these young women had felt alone as the only woman brewer in their beer world. It was also clear that my story of being a Brewmaster for 19 years offered them a vision of what their own careers could aspire to. Suddenly at 47, I felt the call to give back to the beer industry that I loved so much, by mentoring these women and others like them.
Then came about Pink Boots Society, a place for women to connect with one another and realize others like them existed. Today there are countless opportunities for members to network, volunteer, and participate in an annual event, Big Boots Brew.
Finally, let’s talk about Nicole Erny, the first female to become a Master Cicerone. Today she oversees the Certified Cicerone exam and travels the country training others about beer. Erny told the Huffington Post what it’s like working with mostly other men in the industry
Being quite a bit younger than most, and a woman, I’ve certainly run into walls within the beer community. I was partially fueled by my own defensiveness to get the certification, to earn legitimacy among my peers. But sometimes there’s actually reverse sexism: ‘Oh, you’re a woman? You must have super tasting powers.’
It’s no secret the Master Cicerone Certification Exam is intense, 14 hours over two days – in fact, of the 10 other people to take the exam with Erny, she was the only one who passed.
What are your thoughts on women in the craft beer industry? Do you agree with Julia Herz, that most people view beer as gender-neutral? Or does Lisa Morrison have a point about the sexism we still see today? Either way, there are some prominent women paving the way in the craft beer industry and we’re excited to see what they’ll be doing next.