Food and Drink

Yes, women belong in the craft beer scene

According to Tara Goulet of Birdsong Brewing Company, women in particular are fans of Birdsong’s Jalepeño Pale Ale.

To Margo Metzger, executive director of the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild, this is a good sign.

“I don’t really like the idea that somehow women require more delicate beverages,” she said, “that there are beverages for ladies and beverages for men. To me, that is kind of insulting.”

Guess where you can find Jalapeño Pale Ale Cans? #DrinkLocal #CLTbeer #CanDoWillDo #knights

A photo posted by Birdsong Brewing Company (@birdsongbrewing) on Jun 12, 2015 at 10:47am PDT

Metzger moderated a panel of women during the NC Brewers Celebration at BB&T Ballpark Saturday, which brought in representatives (and their libations) from all over the state’s craft beer scene.

In addition to Goulet, the panel featured Anna Sauls of Highland Brewing Company, Mary Eliza McRae of Harris Beverage and Anne-Fitten Glenn of Oskar Blues Brewery.

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Tara Goulet, Anna Sauls, Margo Metzger, Mary Eliza McRae and Anne-Fitten Glenn.

Audience members got to taste beers, including the Jalepeño Pale Ale and the Pinner Throwback IPA from Oskar Blues Brewery, while they listened to insight from the panel.

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Talking points:

(1) Women in the beer business

“I don’t think any of us spend a lot of time thinking about the fact that we are women in the beer business,” Metzger said. “We’re just in the beer business.”

She did acknowledge that this business tends to be male-dominated, as does the wine business.

“But that’s changing,” she said. “And a lot of the women here are in leadership positions all around the state.”

Audience member Amanda Dickinson added, “The novelty of women in beer is lost to me. Beer is beer … It’s not a male and female thing.”

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(2) Shift in the beer scene

“Gone are the days where your choice was just a whole, cold box full of beers in varying color schemes of blue and red that competed on who was the coldest,” Metzger said. “And it all kind of tasted the same.”

Thanks to the rise of NC craft beer in the ’90s, Sauls said, “There’s something for every palate out there.”

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(3) The changing demographic of the beer drinker

“What we’re seeing in our market research,” Glenn said, “is that younger and younger women are definitely attracted to craft beer.”

She credited that evolution to the “eat and drink local” phenomenon, adding that craft brewers offer more education to consumers about what is available to them. For example, she said craft beer is lower in alcohol and calories than a lot of mixed drinks, adding to the appeal.

The craft beer scene is also often associated with activity, she said, such as run clubs, cycling clubs and hiking groups.

“That lifestyle is appealing,” she said.

(4) Approach to marketing beer

“I don’t think it should be marketed differently for women versus men,” Sauls said. “I think it’s very silly to say that women are going to prefer a different flavor from men.”

As audience member Audrey Whetten described her experience of craft beer: “I love the different depths of flavors, the different nuances.”

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Katie Toussaint

Katie Toussaint edits for CharlotteFive and community news at the Charlotte Observer. Follow her on Twitter @katietoussaint.

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