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BEER WARS: The Female Edition

BEER WARS: The Female Edition

My entire life, I have been fighting the stereotypes against women.

Now this post is by no means against all of you women respecting and women loving men. This is against the men that think that women and men are not, in fact, equal. That women are the weaker of the species. That our main purpose on the planet is to bear children, cook and clean.

Listen, I understand that women and men are not physically equal. We have different parts and, most of the time, men are bigger, faster and stronger. Trust me, I know this. I learn this the VERY hard way as a child. For a good part of my childhood, I was faster and stronger (but not bigger) than all the boys. Then things changed, and I was devastated.

Unfortunate for me, all of my endeavors, interests and passions happen to be “male dominated” arenas. I played sports my whole life. I studied Criminology in college. I have worked in restaurant kitchens. And now I am in the beer industry.

I love cigars. I love scotch. I love college football more than almost anything in this world.

I’ve been criticized for my “look” and for my hobbies. I have had many people tell me to “embrace my feminine side.” WTF is that supposed to mean? I don’t have a feminine side. I have ONE side, and this is it. What you see is what you get.

I consider myself to be a human rights activist. I fight for equality in all the realms — race, gender, age, sexual orientation etc…

Where is this going, you must be asking yourself?

One of my major pet peeves with the big corporate beer companies (outside of the fact that they make a horrible product from the poorest quality ingredients) is the ludicrous marketing ploys they develop. It makes me sick to see them not only objectify women in these commercials, but to learn of product gimmicks that they create specifically for women.

Marketing Magazine out of the UK recently announced that Molson-Coors is releasing a clear beer specifically designed for women.

I threw up in my mouth when I read the announcement.

Like all malt-beverages being marketed to women, the clear beer’s “shtick” is low calorie. Because supposedly women would rather sacrifice flavor and quality for lower calories. Give me a f*ck*ng break.

And to add injury to insult, they are campaigning women to name the beer for them.

Oh, I have a name for it. And trust me, its not pretty.

From what I understand, the clear beer is meant to serve as a gateway beer to get women to drink, and I quote, “REAL lagers.” It is supposed to kinda of sort of taste like beer, but not too much. WTF did they make the beer from second runnings? Gag me.

And as for it being a gateway to real lagers, I hardly consider Molson (or Coors) to be a real lager. Maybe an adjunct lager brewed with ingredients that would make the founders of the Reinheitsgebot turnover in their graves. But, real? That is not the word I would use.

If you really want a pint of adjunct lager from one of the BIG 3, I got the recipe for you:

  • 20 ounces soda water
  • 1 drop corn extract
  • 1 drop wheat extract
  • 1 drop rice extract
  • 1 drop barley extract
  • 1 tiny tiny drop of old stale hops

And as for the alcohol? Spike it with a bit of vodka and there ya have it. Your adjunct lager.

As a craft beer evangelist, the last thing I want to see on the market is a gateway beer into corporate beers. Leave those beers for the kids who abuse alcohol and only see it as a means to and end. Aka alcohol = drunk.

I like to think that most people actually care about what they put in their mouth. I drink beer not because I want to get drunk, but because I appreciate the craft (as I do the culinary arts) and I really, truly enjoy all the different nuances and experiences I get out of craft beer.

I have been fought on this issue over and over. “But what if you have no choice and there aren’t any other beers available?” I drink water. Simple as that. I don’t drink to get drunk. Yes, it is a very pleasant side effect. But I would not be spending the amount of money as I do on beer if I thought its only purpose was to get drunk (or laid).

Honestly, I think that all women, whether or not they drink craft beer, should take offense to this marketing ploy. Essentially, Molson-Coors is saying that, because we are women, we deserve to drink poor quality, poor tasting, bottom of the line shit?

I would rather gag down a nasty appletini than ever touch a bottle of clear beer.

And on one last note, clear beer …. clear heels … anyone see a similarity? The only place that beer belongs is in strip clubs, far from me.

So my fellow humans, women and men alike, I ask you to join with me and fight the BEER WAR against corporate America! VIVA LA BEER WARS!


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48 Responses to “BEER WARS: The Female Edition”

  • Melissa April 15th, 2010 at 3:12 am

    Babe, you are so spot on, can’t believe we came to the same stripper heels conclusion!

  • Steph Weber April 15th, 2010 at 4:33 am

    I agree that this is a pretty offensive marketing idea, and you certainly won’t ever see me drinking clear beer. But, and I hate to say it, a lot of women *will* buy into this. Fortunately, these women are not the type of people I ever interact with, ever. Ever.

  • erik April 15th, 2010 at 5:33 am

    Here’s something for your continued rage:

  • Stephen Beaumont April 15th, 2010 at 6:13 am

    I’ve got a name for it…Zima! Or maybe Zima Light, to account for the low-calorie nonsense. And a prediction…it will eventually suffer the same fate as Zima.

    I’m old enough to remember when Miller played around with a clear beer, even tasted the thing at one GABF. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now because there is a perceptive disconnect between the taste of beer, even an adjunct-filled beer, and the look of a clear beverage.

    I’d say that this whole endeavor is unworthy even of comment, except that we both just commented on it. I suggest we now simply ignore it and wait for it to eventually and inevitably go away.

  • Nate April 15th, 2010 at 7:44 am

    Coors tried this in the UK a while back with a fizzy pink “beer” called Eve:
    To me it’s no different than the low brow marketing geared towards men that we see from the same macro brewers.

  • Julie April 15th, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Wenchie, you & I really *are* sisters. I saw your post after I wrote mine. Except mine has less pictures because, well, I’m lazy.

  • Kristy BitterSweet April 15th, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Hello Beer Wench. I’m Kristy McCready, and I work for BitterSweet Partnership, the company Molson Coors have set up in the UK to look at why women in the UK drink less beer than their counterparts in other Western countries.

    Firstly, I want to address the fact that this new beer is not being developed specifically as a low-calorie drink. We’ve found in our research that women believe that beer is more calorific than it actually is, in part because calorie content isn’t always listed on alcoholic drinks. Therefore with our new beer, we’re going to ensure that calorie information is displayed on the bottle, because perceived calorie content is one of the factors that puts women off from trying beer in the UK – almost half believe that drinking beer would lead to weight gain.

    Secondly, we’re not intending to produce an inferior product. I’m a beer enthusiast myself and am passionate about persuading more women to try beer – I would never stand for the idea that we should market a poor tasting, low-quality drink to women. Like you I drink beer because I appreciate the taste and this beer is no exception and, like all our brands, brewed using only the finest quality ingredients. We’ve spoken to over 30,000 women in the UK and all of our activities are influenced by what they’ve told us.

    Finally, at Molson Coors and at BitterSweet Partnership we believe that sharing a beer with friends is one of life’s simple pleasures – and are appalled when drunkenness and anti-social behaviour get in the way of the sociable enjoyment of our brands. The kind of beer that people enjoy is their own personal choice – and I personally don’t believe that binge-drinking or drinking to get drunk is intrinsically linked with beers from large brewers.

    Nate – the Eve product you refer to is produced by Carlsberg, not Molson Coors

  • Helder April 15th, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Love the tone of this article- great job! :)

  • Scott April 15th, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    Kristy, if you were a fan of quality beer you wouldn’t be working for a company like Molson Coors.

    As always, amazing blog post Ashley!


  • Rick April 15th, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Ash – seems like you went for some low-hanging fruit here. Yes, big beer folks market to women in weird and often dubious ways, but the pendulum swings the other way in the stereotyping of men as… well… morons. This is just another gimmicky malt beverage that will see a short shelf life; it’ll sell tons for a few months, the fall off and die a quiet death. As for the quality of the beers themselves, I’m gonna have to say that the big guys use pretty damn good quality ingredients – I’d say the best in the world. We may not like the percentage of rice or corn used, but it’s high quality stuff, truth be told. Finally, these are not easy beers to make and their popularity shouldn’t be solely held against them. They do great things for craft brewers – we use the distribution systems they set up, they’ve really paved the way in that regard.

    There’s a lot not to like about industrial brewing, but the marketing to a segment of our population is just that – marketing. Car companies, fast food, instant meals – they all have a strange bent to them that has underlying messages that offend those who step back and think about whats being said. Beer just seems to up the ante with the sexy girls and dumb boys and living cliches. Sadly for our population, these ploys often work.

    Anyway, fun read, keep the fire going and keep fighting the good fight.

  • Trish Smith April 15th, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Nice post, Ashley. I find it fascinating that someone who works for Molson/Coors actually had the balls to respond to you. I say this because there really is no excuse for the shit beer being made by the big beer companies, so really, what possible response could they come up with?

    Just the thought of “clear beer” makes me throw up in my mouth (and Stephen hit the nail on the head with his suggestion to call it Zima – another pseudo-alcohol designed for the female market). I can only guess that they’re making this crap to try to get the non-beer drinking female population to think of the swill they make as “good beer”, relatively speaking (kind of “bad beer conditioning”). So the goal here was to create a “beer” that would actually be shittier than their current product. Quite a feat – but I’d bet good money they managed it. After all, if they actually crafted a decent beer as their “gateway” beer, then when those people tried their other product, they’d immediately jump ship for any number of beers that actually taste good.

    Never understimate the corporate beer producers’ ability to create product that’s ever more swill-tastic. It’s a gift, really (or a curse, if you like good beer). The logical alternative – to spend the money and energy they put into this garbage, into actually developing a good product from good ingredients – escaped them, somehow.

  • Glass Bottles April 15th, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Great post. I love the article and I love women who love beer. I agree, beer should be marketed and sold to all people.

  • Chuckularone April 15th, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Forget beer. It looks to me like Kristy drank the Mega-Swill koolade.

  • theBrewDude April 15th, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    interesting view point there wenchie….as I guy this something I think little about. as an entrepreneur something I should consider more. on a side note, wow molson/coors presence on the Wench’s blog?….this must mean they are REALLY set on marketing as hard as they can….sounds a little like mass marketing damage control to me. BEER WARS ALL THE WAY!

  • Jason Harris April 15th, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    The sad part is though, there’s a big market of women who just “don’t like beer”. Obviously there are plenty of women who love and appreciate all sorts of different types of beer, but for every one of those you’ll see half a dozen who don’t want to drink beer at all, or buy stuff like Smirnoff Ice, or those Bacardi drinks, or whatever else hangs out towards the end of the beer aisle.

    It’s just smart business for brewers to try to target that audience, because it’s an awful lot of people and there’s money to be made.

  • BasicallyRed April 15th, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Great article, Ashley- The Ladies of Craft Beer definitely agree with you!

    Kristy, I have a question for you- as a beer enthusiast yourself- what is your favorite brew? Why?

  • SarahMaria April 15th, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Bravo lady! As someone who has always worried they were too “snobbish” when it came to what beers they chose to embibe, it’s been SO refreshing (no pun intended) to discover others (women especially) who are likeminded in their beer preferences. This was a fantastic opinion piece and I hope more choose to read it. Thanks for putting your thoughts out there! There is nothing like a freshly poured craft beer and I’m glad I’m far from alone in thinking that. Cheers!

  • Wenchie April 15th, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    A clear lager is NOT the answer to attracting women to drink beer.

    CRAFT beer is the gateway for women, especially women who love wine and cocktails, to get into beer. The flavor spectrum of craft beer is so HUGE that there is a beer for EVERY ONE. And this I will stand behind, 100% forever. You want a tart fruity beer? Try a Raspberry Lambic. You want something that remind you of a wine? Try a wine barrel-aged beer. Want something with heat and depth? Try a rich bourbon-aged stout. Want something light, crisp and refreshing? How about a Belgian wit …

    Come on. The possibilities for converting women to beer are ENDLESS in the craft beer realm. Give us more credit. Science has proven that we have more sensitive palates than men. We can handle the flavor. Don’t belittle us with your marketing gimmicks.

    Call me the Beer Yenta. If you think you do not like beer, I will make you think otherwise. There is a beer for everyone.

  • Kristy BitterSweet April 15th, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    Just to be clear BitterSweet Partnership is a UK business, to address the fact that fewer women over here enjoy beer. This is due to issues such as stereotypes, myths and the fact that beer advertising almost always ignores women. As a result, only 13% of beer here is drunk by women whereas in the US it’s almost double that (you can find our research on our website, I won’t shoehorn in another link as Erik already posted it, and has talked about us at Top Fermented).

    Wenchie – I agree with you, Craft Beer is a great gateway for women into beer but one of the challenges in the UK is a lack of knowledge and education around different beer styles that stops women trying it. We do a lot of tasting sessions with a variety of different beers and like you say, most often find there is a beer for everyone.

    Launching a new beer is just one way to get women to choose beer, but not the only way, our insights show us that the way women experience beer is key. This includes everything from the way it’s served, through to the occasions at which it’s drunk to the social rules surrounding beer, and importantly its image among other women. We’re not going to reshape the industry by simply launching beer products aimed at women; it’s about encompassing the whole beer drinking experience for them and we’re looking at everything from glassware to packaging and the whole drinking and buying environment.

    BasicallyRed – my favourite beer is a real tough one. I know why any beer is my favourite – because it tastes great, but I try new beers all the time and find new favourites all the time! But if really pushed for one beer I always go back to and never disappoints I’d say Worthington White Shield!!

  • Laur April 16th, 2010 at 7:02 am

    TL/DR Summary: Beer education, not marketing ploys, will bring in new female drinkers.

    @Ashley – Great post! I, too, have been bucking stereotypes since I was little, but recently I’ve also been reclaiming them. For instance, the idea of “embracing one’s feminine side” evokes high heels, makeup and dresses, no? But as you said, you have only your one side. However, you’re wearing adorable clothes and have a great haircut. Methinks you are (rather than discarding your femininity) reclaiming it in a way that fits you (which happens to not be a stereotype). I think the idea of discarding femininity is why shoulder pads and power suits were once in vogue. Luckily, women woke up and saw they could dress however feminine they felt, and still be treated with the respect they earned from their colleagues (or as required by law, from their bigoted colleagues). Basically, I think you look very feminine in your photo, but the badass feminine that made Kara Thrace (Katee Sackhoff) so hot in BSG. Keep it up.

    @Kristy – As a an apparent spokesperson for Coors/Molson, I must inquire as to how you stumbled on this post. If it was a type of routine search-and-destroy PR stunt where any representative could have responded (happens a LOT for cable and phone companies), I’m impressed you stuck around so long.
    If you found it on your own and are just sticking up for your employer, get a new employer (preferably in craft beer or distribution). You sound pretty smart, and you obviously know something about marketing. This world needs good spokespeople who stand up for what they care about. But mostly, and this is huge, we need people to market *beer education*. I don’t mean showing off Coors/Molson beers. Playing toward “social image” of beer will only get you so far, especially if your image is of cocktail dresses and drinking out of tulips. That’s when you start stereotyping women. Even if your research says that’s how you’ll get the most customers, as an individual and a self-proclaimed craft beer enthusiast, *that shouldn’t be your goal*. You should be trying to bring women into the craft beer world, where the brewing process and even science behind it is just as important as the taste and “image”. Don’t use your powers to make beer superficial. It’s an art and a historical treasure that we should revere.
    Lastly, since you said you are “appalled when drunkenness and anti-social behaviour get in the way of the sociable enjoyment of our brands,” I must assume that is coming from the company’s liability half of you, and not from the real person half. Appalled? It’s alcohol. Abuse and misuse have been around since before glass bottles. Again, this is where education comes in. Too many people (men and women alike) see beer as only a tool for getting drunk. So many marketing ploys (including Coors/Molson) have that as their backdrop. It’s undeniable. When we can rebrand beer as a thoughtful, intelligent drink, maybe I’ll believe someone could be “appalled”. Until then, stop selling and start teaching.

  • Whineaux (Dawn) April 16th, 2010 at 12:17 pm


    I agree with everything you said. The sad truth is that there is a market. Calling beer is like calling what is served at McDonald’s food.

    For their demographic and their budget they created a product there is demand for. (sadly)

    I did notice when I was in the UK if I tried to order a Pint I aroused suspicion as it was unladylike. Beer isn’t popular among women and the men are already drinking lots of it — they are just trying to expand their market.

    Its up to us to be an advocate for quality craft beer consumption by everyone!

  • Wine Dog April 16th, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Ah Wench, you’re the beer guzzling girl child I never had. Maybe they should name with new low calorie swill Doosh. Ah, maybe not, maybe I should name my strip club that and then serve their low calorie woman specific beverage. In clear heels. And a push up bra.

    p.s. I give social media kudos to the Molson/Coors rep who commented, even if she is drunk from the corporate Koolaid.

  • Steve April 16th, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Kristy, your research tells you that women perceive beer as fattening, and generally have a low opinion of it. So your answer? Come up with a clear low calorie flavorless drink that barely resembles beer for them? That seems kind of lazy to me. I find that women love lambic, frambozens, blonde ales, saisons, India pale ales, brown ales, stouts.and hundreds more styles besides. Stop patronizing women and you might get somewhere.

  • Sam Tierney April 16th, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Ashley, I totally agree with your sentiments here. Education is the cure for the ills of the world. The continuing ignorance perpetuated by the mass marketing arms of the major brewers is never going to bring the masses to good beer. My girlfriend was among the women who did not like beer for a very long time. It took me awhile, but It turns out that she loves Flanders red ales and any other type of sour beer as well. Education was the key, but the reality is that many women are never goin to get near the one on one coaching that she got from me. We can all hope for a chance encounter with a Lindemans at a BJs or something, but I’m happy to know that their are women out there like yourself that are dedicated to preachnig the gospel of craft beer.

  • Dale Miskimins April 16th, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    I agree with LAUR & others about education. My wife has been slow to adopt craftbeer because most of the beer I bring home is a bit extreme. We recently visited the Happy Gnome in St. Paul, and Helena, our wait person, was very patient with her. She suggested several craftbeers and my wife enjoyed them. We picked some beers up on our trip from Cellars and the Nova and brought them home. My wife (Sue) is hoarding them and woe to me if I touch any! PS – I picked up plenty of my favories too (Oskar Blues, Surly, Stone & Dogfish Head)!

  • Happy Herbivore April 16th, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Recently, I was out on a double date. As I was ordering another beer (I’m a girl, Hi!) my friend’s date did not, sighting “too many calories” I’d just like to point out the calorie counter was a HETEROSEXUAL MALE to avoid any confusion. Stop trying to throw people into a box mega-corporations, you hear me?

  • Wenchie April 16th, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Kristy –

    If lack of knowledge and education around different beer styles is the barrier for getting women to drink beer, maybe that is what your company should be focused on instead of wasting millions of dollars creating a sub-par product and even more money trying to market it.

    I understand the numbers. Women are less likely to drink beer than men, especially in England. Got it and won’t fight it. However, there HAS to be a better way to convert women into beer than creating a subpar product that doesn’t even fall into a “real” style category.

    Why not convince your client to create a true craft beer that actually fits into a style category (last time I checked there wasn’t a clear beer style category). You yourself admitted to being a beer drinker. Help guide your client pick a style that would appeal to women as well as serve as a gateway to other beers. Women have tremendous palates, we can handle intense flavors. We do not need to be belittled with beer that is closer to being carbonated water with a hint of alcohol than an actual beer.

    As for the calorie thing, those women will have to drink twice as much beer just to get the same “alcohol” buzz as they would off of a craft beer with a lot more flavor. So where is the trade-off? Painfully swill down two bottles of clear woman beer … or enjoy one bottle of flavorful, well-made, craft beer? No brainer.

    AND when it really comes down to it, we are all people. So stop making “female” beers. That is just bull. I know many men that would rather drink wine or cocktails over beer. Maybe you should market your swill to them as well, although I don’t think my friends would ever drink clear beer — no matter how desperate they are.

    Just my opinion, though. Take it for what you want.

  • Brad April 16th, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    It’s admirable that Kristy is diligent and interested in standing up for her company’s efforts. But surely, this particular crowd was never the one that needed winning over, being so squarely outside the target audience.

    The one thing I sometimes want to see most from the major brewers is that they finally drop all pretense about how incredibly superior, flavorful, extravagantly hopped, and stupendously superlative their products are. I’d like to see an acknowledgment once and for all that these products are in fact built for the lowest common denominator, and that’s OK. This should be self-evident if only based on what we know about every other segment of popular (particularly American) consumerism. Not everyone is going to be a connoisseur, and not every company that leads its category — whether Walmart, or McDonald’s, etc. — needs to try and attribute its success to the innate supremacy of the wares they offer.

    The fact that most mainstream beer advertisements make no mention whatsoever of the actual product itself (its quality, its composition) tells you something. And when they do, the claims are ludicrous, frequently non-sequitors (“coldest-tasting beer on the planet”), relative comparisons (“Miller Lite has more taste than Bud Light”), or outright fabrications (Miller Lite has “a true Pilsner taste”).

    Yes, it’s often this disconnect that chaps my hide most about the mega-brewers.

    To bring this tangential rant back around, I don’t really begrudge a business for making a product it knows will sell. Maybe that’s because it’s gimmicky, or it’s because inoffensive, bland and inexpensive enough to have mass appeal. Or maybe it’s part of a larger business philosophy of throwing a bunch of ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks. As long as we’re fairly upfront about what’s going on.

    Kristy, if your goal really is to get more women educated about beer and drinking more of it, how bad must things be that you decided it was necessary to start at (or beneath) square one with a colorless and (I’m going out on a limb here) very light-flavored beer-like beverage in order to attract some females to the party? Is the idea to gradually move them into more challenging beer options (are you invested in these customers for such a long haul?) or is the idea moreso to redefine “beer” in these women’s minds such that your product becomes a palatable alternative to all the things they’ve already shunned about beer?

  • Jason Harris April 16th, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    When it comes to lambics and sour beers, they’re great, but how many women are going to pick up a $10-25 bottle of beer just to “Try it out”? Or who’s going to have a cooler at a party filled with those?

    This is really the market for this type of thing…you’re having a party, you have a cooler full of drinks, and you end up getting something different for the “non beer drinkers”. I can say from experience that in a cooler full of good craft beer and 5 Smirnoff ices, a lot of women I know will go for the sweet Smirnoff drink every time. Regardless of how many gateway beers or different styles we have them try.

    It’s also important to remember that beer is an acquired taste for most people…you have to get used to it before you really appreciate it. So if someone gets used to some watered down blah beer, they’re a lot more likely to enjoy my Stone IPA than the person drinking a Cosmo. At least they’re used to beer.

  • The Beer Wench (E.T. Crowe) April 16th, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    I will be holding a launch party for said clear beer in my stripper heels–join me and we’ll dump a shitload of this crap into the nearest storm sewer before getting shit faced on bourbon and Dogfish Head Raison D’etre!!!
    Wenches UNITE!!!

  • Wenchie April 16th, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Oh Brad you make an excellent point! Is the company going to be invested in its customers for the long haul?

    Kristy — Say you actually convert these women to drinking beer through your clear beer launch? Then what? Will you help them reach the next level? Will you see it as a way to educate women and help them take the next steps in beer exploration?

    Thanks Brad, excellent response!

  • Chris Butts April 16th, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    This has been some seriously good reading.

  • Mikey April 16th, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    I think that you’re barking up the wrong tree. Many people have stated some of my thoughts already so some of what I say will be a repeat but here we go.

    Being mad at Molson/Coors for offering a substandard beer is kind of like being mad at McDonald’s for offering a substandard steak. They’re not in the business to make anything resembling a craft beer.

    It’s a business to them and that being said, they’re going to make a product that makes money for them and they do that based on market research. If the demographic they’re after tells them through market research that they want a certain type of beverage, they’re going to make that type of beverage and try to sell it.

    We can be glad that there are craft brewers out there whose raison d’être is to make good beer and don’t put profit first but we all know that Coors (or Bud or Miller) is not one of those companies.

    While we all would like to see a world full of people drinking world class beer, the truth was already stated that most people aren’t going to drop the amount of money on beer that we do. I’m trying to introduce a guy I work with to good beers and was trying to tell him what a great deal Old Rasputin is at $2 a bottle. He just shrugged with a “I’m not spending $48 per case on beer” look on his face. It’s just a fact that some people can only drink beer that costs $15 a case.

    So if a company trying to make money wants to hit a portion of the market that doesn’t like their standard beer, they’re not going to make something that’s $5 for a 12 oz bottle. They’re going to make something like clear beer and you know what? If the people buying that clear beer like it and want to drink it, it’s their business. I’ve promised myself I’d be a beer geek and not a beer snob with the difference being not to tell someone that they shouldn’t drink something they like to drink. I just let them know that I’m here to help them if they want to dabble into my world.

    As for the sexist stereotyping, Rick already touched on it. We (men) are branded as stupid sexist pigs every day in practically every beer ad. I don’t compare myself to the guys in those commercials, I just laugh at the funny ones and am happy that I don’t buy my beer based off what I see on TV and in print. I know what kind of a guy I am and don’t let marketing tell me otherwise.

    For those telling Kristy to quit if she really likes good beer, that’s just crazy talk. Nobody should quit a job for that reason, especially in an economy like this. If Miller offered me a job today that paid me what I wanted to make, I’d take in in a heartbeat and I’d use my paychecks to buy craft beers. It might not be the brewer I want to work for but it’s closer to them than most jobs out there.

    The only thing I might question her on is her true desire to get women to drink better beers but considering she’s completely outnumbered here I’ll give her a pass on saying what she thinks we want to hear.

    So, there you have it. I know I’ll probably be ripped to shreds for giving that point of view but I felt compelled to give my two cents anyway.

    So cheers everybody, have a beer this weekend that YOU want to drink, not one that a commercial, magazine ad or anybody else tells you that you should want to drink.

  • Garrett Oliver April 16th, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    The idea of “quality” inside the food production community has very little to do with our ideas regarding value. “Quality” refers to achieving a goal or expected result. And it’s true that the industrial brewers are better at achieving this form of “quality” than anyone else.

    However, this is very different than subjective value. For example, if you go see the Jerry Schumacher movie “Batman & Robin”, you will see a film of intrinsically high quality. Everything looks and sounds as it’s meant to. It’s also a worthless film, two hours of your life than you’ll never get back. The big brewers make beer the way Jerry Schumacher makes movies.

    Ms. McReady, the main reason women in the UK don’t drink beer is because big brewers have told them that they’re not welcome. Beer advertising has often been stupid, violent and misogynistic, particularly in the UK. And my perception isn’t a cultural difference – I grew up on British humor and used to live in the UK. I’ve also judged the Great British Beer Festival seven times, and I can tell you that even from cask brewers I’ve seen some breathtakingly condescending stuff put out there. So if your company wonders why women don’t think they want beer, perhaps the industrial brewers need to look in the mirror.

    You’re put in the unenviable position of trying to defend the indefensible. All food trends are moving in only one direction – away from the industrial and towards the flavorful and artisanal. What exactly makes you think that beer is any different? In the face of overwhelming evidence? But instead of going out and teaching people about great beer matched with great food, the industrial brewers attempt to see if they can get a bounce in the next quarter’s stock price. And maybe they will. Temporarily. But the fact remains that industrial brewers, through their own actions, remain the proverbial frog in the pot on the stove. The water’s getting hotter. You might want to think about jumping.

  • Aaron Mielke April 16th, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    What I’ve found is that in most people’s minds the word “beer” invokes thoughts of Bud Light, Coors Light, and Miller Lite. Anything else that varies from that is considered weird, gross, or *gasp* “not beer”.

    I agree with Wenchie’s comment about giving women a Raspberry Lambic or a wine barrel-aged beer can do wonders for women. The problem is, as soon as the word “beer” enters their brain, they associate the flavor of a light lager from the Big Three with *ewwwww* raspberries.

    Marketing has molded our conception of beer so when anything varies from that, it’s strange, odd, and weird so people play it safe and drink “beer” as they always have. Of course, I’m speaking about the majority here….

  • kristyn April 17th, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    ~shakes head~ reminds me of how i got “friended” on my blog by Bittersweet Partnership for a brief mention of real beer cocktails versus canned beer cocktail barfness, ie Bud Light Chilado. soon as it became apparent because i don’t hold back that i did not agree with their Bittersweet goal, i got unfriended/unfollowed. LOL. life is about flavor. i say bring it on. i don’t need some stupid marketer who cares not about me but the bottom dollar to pawn off clear crap on me. that’s what water is for and darned if it don’t taste good along with being free in most establishments. thing is BMC don’t want an educated drinking female public because then, goshgollygee, we won’t want to drink their macro swill any more. so of course this new “endeavor” is to keep the ignorant imbibers, in this case women, continually ignorant because that is the only way they can have power and control over what we drink (and eat).

    from a cigar smoking scotch savoring bourbon sipping rum craving tequila appreciating beer geek, speak it sister ^_^

  • Clear As Mud | Brookston Beer Bulletin April 17th, 2010 at 4:39 pm

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  • Beershine April 17th, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Great article and even better conversation afterward! A few points:

    1. Kristy thank you for responding, it is refreshing to hear from the “opposition.” I would like to offer a suggestion. Instead of marketing this new product (Douche is a great name for it BTW), why not invest in craft breweries? There are many who could use the money injected into Douche, many who are struggling and would help spread the word to women around the world as well as in the UK. Your company would see a return on investment, guaranteed.

    2. Jason Harris made a few salient points that should be addressed. Cost and reality. The reality is that the issues we are talking about are deeper social issues. Why did the Wench preface her piece about Douche with such a long intro related to gender issues? Because gender issues are the most formidable wall of inequality the world over, bigger than race or ethnicity. I feel very strongly about this issue.

    Prime example: except for North America, Europe, and cosmopolitan cities there is no where in the world where a woman can walk alone into a bar and just chill out with a beer or beverage of her choice. She will be stared at, she will not make friends, and it is highly likely she will be considered a whore and placed in danger. Even in Europe and North America there are many bars a woman would never enter alone. As a beer loving female traveler this bothers me to no end. This is one of the reasons women’ don’t drink beer. The world is still segregated into male and female social spaces, physical spaces, political and economic spaces. Sadly, gender issues aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

  • Kristy BitterSweet April 18th, 2010 at 5:55 am

    Hi – some really great discussion here and great to be part of the debate – will try and answer as many questions as I can, sorry if it makes for a long post!!

    @Laur I like to think of myself as an “actual” spokesperson for BitterSweet and Molson Coors UK (Erik already checked me out and I am real!!) and I found this blog because I was looking for it – partly because it’s my job but mostly because, as someone that loves beer, I’m really interested in the debate, that’s why I keep coming back. I have my own blog and you’ll see my views there too which won’t differ from anything I write here

    It does surprise me the number of suggestions that at BitterSweet our aim is to patronize and stereotype women, I’d argue the amount of time we’re spending on insight shows exactly the opposite, we want to get to the best understanding of women and their relationship with beer. To me there’s a simple fact – men and women are different and want to be sold to and advertised to in a different way. That doesn’t mean advertising to ladies needs to be pink bows and butterflies but it should be different, if women wanted to be marketed to in the same way as men they’d be buying beer already wouldn’t they? What is wrong is that the beer industry have taken so long to wake up to that fact – as a women I actually find any company taking the time to understand me as a consumer and not assuming one size fits all shows respect for me rather than patronizes me and it’s high time we did the same in the beer industry.

    @Brad Our goal is absolutely to educate women about beer, as I’ve already said this product is just one part of our work at BitterSweet, and certainly not the start, it’s based on researching over 30k women over the last 12 months to make sure that this is something that they want. But it has to be about more than just any one beer brand in isolation, it’s got be about getting women into the beer category by using the right glassware, tasting sessions, packaging, advertising, products and, as you rightly point out, by investing in those drinkers for the long term.

    Our reason for being is to make great beer and to get more women to try those great beers, we’d never make a sub standard product and one that I personally wouldn’t be proud to stand up for. I’m just into my 10th year at Molson Coors UK, I just hope my boss doesn’t read all the calls for me to lose my job and I’m around to champion great beer for at least the next 10 years!!

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  • Erik April 19th, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    I have checked Kristy out and she is real – I will confirm that. I even follow her on Twitter. I respectfully disagree with the mission of Bittersweet. :)

    Kristy – I think the disconnect comes in right about here (from your post):

    “To me there’s a simple fact – men and women are different and want to be sold to and advertised to in a different way.”

    I think to a lot of people (myself included) that is an inherently sexist viewpoint (and trust me that I have this argument in the U.S. a lot, too). To me, that sounds like you’re patronizing and stereotyping women. In fact, I think that the macrobreweries have a long history of patronizing and stereotyping men – and that is, in part, why the industry has a difficult time connecting with women.

    There’s a big difference between marketing to women and NOT marketing to men. I wish that the focus was not to make a pink beer that comes in a sparkly shopping bag, but to help women feel comfortable about beer in a gender neutral way. Rather than putting the female-focus in, take the male-focus out. Do it with education, pairing with food, etc.

    And I know that you guys focus on that, it’s just that it’s along the lines of “Beer paired with strawberries and chocolate!” and “It’s okay, beer doesn’t make you fat!” Both great things, both true, and both can relate to both genders – not just women. Having that information is awesome. Focusing that information on women is what seems patronizing and stereotyping.

    I did just make those examples up, too, so nobody go weird on those.

  • Sean Inman April 19th, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    This conversation has been fascinating. I have even taken notes. I heartily agree with Mr. Oliver’s post in particular and many others too but I think the issue starts much, much earlier in the process before any facts, polls or figures are analyzed.

    Was the beer created by a brewer who wanted to drink it? I fully understand the need to have a market and the need to be sensitive to it but if the beer wasn’t brewed by someone whose sole purpose is to make a great beer then the entire point is moot.

    Kristy, you could literally replace the word “beer” with “car” in your posts and you would still be able to read it with some minor verb changes (drink to drive). That to me speaks volumes about the intent.

    If you truly want to educate and bring more women into the fold, why not collaborate with the Pink Boots Society? They (along with the Wench) are doing more to change perceptions about beer than a gimmick ever will.

  • A Year of Women and Beer (Guest post from Kristy McCready) | Beer Reviews April 21st, 2010 at 5:25 am

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