More women are making — and enjoying — beer

MICHELLE LOCKE
The Associated Press
Modified: April 24, 2012 at 5:13 pm •  Published: April 24, 2012
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photo - An undated image of Irene Firmat in the Full Sail Brewery taken in Hood River, Ore. (AP Photo/Lynn Howlett Photography/Full Sail Brewing Company)
An undated image of Irene Firmat in the Full Sail Brewery taken in Hood River, Ore. (AP Photo/Lynn Howlett Photography/Full Sail Brewing Company)

A brew and a bro — it's the classic pairing, right? Not necessarily.

From the rise of female brew masters to the growth of women's tasting groups, women are becoming much more than a pint-sized part of the brewing world.

The emergence of women as both beer-lovers and brewers happened as the craft beer scene grew overall by leaps and bounds, and that's no coincidence, says Lisa Morrison, Oregon-based writer, blogger and author of "Craft Beers of the Pacific Northwest."

"I think that women are finally discovering, thanks to craft beer, that beer has flavor," she says.

"When we start getting into the artisan stuff you start realizing that there's an entire rainbow of flavors that you can enjoy. And because of that you can pair that with all kinds of different food flavors," Morrison says. "Women love food. We love cooking. We love tasting food. We love sampling different things. So when you put all that together, the cooking with beer, the pairing food with beer, the whole wide-ranging genre of beer styles and beer flavors — it's something that women can get really excited about."

The marketing message is also different, says Julia Herz, home brewer and craft beer program director at the Boulder, Colo.-based Brewers Association.

"Historically, the mass-produced lagers have been marketed as a beverage targeting males in their mid to high 20s, and it seems to me in advertising that I see for craft beer that it's really not marketed as a gender-specific beverage."

It's hard to put a number on the trend, but Morrison and others say they've personally seen more women take an interest in beer.

"It used to be at beer festivals, I was pretty much the only gal. Now it's definitely venturing more toward 60-40" with women being the 40 percent, says Morrison, who has been involved in the craft beer scene for nearly 15 years.

On the business side, beer management remains predominantly male, though there have been changes there, too, says Irene Firmat, founder and CEO of Full Sail Brewing Co. in Hood River, Ore.

To support female brewers, a support network called the Pink Boots Society was formed. It includes a consumer tasting group organization, Barley's Angels, that has chapters in the U.S., Canada, Australia and South America.

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