women in craft beer industry

Women in the craft beer industry

07 April, 2020

Following the recent International Women’s Day celebrations, one of the topics that has been highlighted is the neglect of women in the craft beer industry.

But before exploring beer, let’s start with chocolate. In 2005 Yorkie, best known for the It’s Not for Girls! ad slogan, decided to trial a pink variety in the Isle of Man which asked: “Girls, can you handle it?” Owner Nestlé had essentially taken a sexist brand and given it a side order of patronism. Right now the global beer industry is being a bit Yorkie. For decades beer has been dominated by a male audience.

According to recent research conducted by YouGov for Dea Latis, women make up 17% of the UK beer market. Not only does this raise a social issue for beer, but a huge proportion of consumers for craft beer brands to tap into. Ironically, in ancient Egyptian times it’s thought that only women brewed and consumed beer, while the Zulu tribe also credited women with introducing brewing. In fact, there’s an extensive history of women playing key roles within the beer industry but it wasn’t until the Black Death in Europe that brewing suddenly commercialised and the beer industry quickly turned into a male-dominated category. Fastforward to 2020 and not much has changed – but why?


Beer advertising has been heavily targeted at a male audience for decades – think Foster’s and Carlsberg over the years – but this seems bizarre given the potential for brewers to grow their consumer base with such a simple refocus. Heineken recently challenged this with a series of ads giving the message that “men drink cocktails too”, which is a clever way of showing why traditional stereotypes need to be removed because, funnily enough, some women do drink beer.

Research conducted by the Telegraph revealed that the unsocial working hours associated with craft breweries have a bigger impact on women than men because of the social pressures of raising children. Heavy lifting and male-oriented brewing equipment also came up as barriers for women entering the industry. Another thought is that women don’t like the bitter taste associated with beer. But that’s simply not true. Not only does beer have a wide spectrum of flavours and styles, but women are thought to have a more delicate palate. Brewhouse & Kitchen in England’s Chester hosted an event on International Women’s Day to encourage more females to enjoy beer.

Gail Bunn, marketing manager for Brewhouse & Kitchen, says: “Women have a greater ability to distinguish between high numbers of aromas and flavours, which is key to success in craft brewing. “Along with this, beer companies are more aware of the importance of female beer drinkers and women now feel more comfortable to drink beer, attend pubs and contribute to the growth of the industry. We’re seeing this reflected in both our customer base and growth of women participating in our Brewing Academy, which fosters successful careers in brewing.

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