This started as a post about the health-benefits of ale, but then I began to make more and more defensive digressions into ale-evangelist mode, until the evangelising threatened to overtake the health-facts. As the health benefits of beer is a very worthy and underappreciated subject, I feel it deserves a post unsullied by the shriekings of a rampant ale-fanatic and am therefore splitting the one post into two. Lucky, lucky followers, you are getting the rant first. Now, with one finger poised over the Caps Lock key, allow me to let the rage flow forth...
The subject of today’s sermon is women and beer. Women – why do we not drink beer? I use the pronoun ‘we’ in this case somewhat erroneously, as I do most avowedly drink beer.
My first and most important point is that many women tend to avoid beer and stick to wines etc because beer has a more ‘masculine’ stigma attached to it. Faugh, I say! Yes, ‘faugh’, and I will say it again! Faugh! I personally believe this view has more to do with packaging than content. Wine comes in a slim bottle that says ‘slender elegance’, while beer comes in a chunky glass that says ‘pot-bellied guffawing’. The implications for drinkers of each beverage are clear. However, in the interests of science and the advancement of female equality, I have been testing the truth of this negative image that has been keeping girls out of the beer market. Yes ladies, for your benefit I have for years now been quaffing pints in pubs with a dedication that would bring a tear to the eye to Marie Curie herself. You can thank me later. The results are now in, and I can reveal to you that, while prone to the occasional guffaw, I am neither pot-bellied nor bearded, and can thus say with confidence that DRINKING BEER WILL NOT TURN YOU INTO A LOUTISH MAN! Huzzah! Now on to my next few points, which you will find lumped together in one paragraph in the interests of authorial laziness.
Having established that beer will not bestow upon us masculine traits, many of us however still refuse to drink it because it is thought a ‘man’s drink’ that women will (a) not like, and (b) do not want to be seen drinking. Seriously girls? Why do we persistently live in this stereotype? Let’s break into theirs instead! We have successfully infiltrated almost every other aspect of male culture (hells, I’m even wearing TROUSERS while writing this! Imagine that!), why do we refuse to break down the gendered booze barriers? Admittedly this is a much worse problem in the States than here. Here people rarely bat an eyelid when I am seen wandering round the pub with a nice pint in my hand, while in New York I was helpfully informed that ‘Beer isn’t a drink for ladies, honey’ (an interesting observation, as I believe I was drinking Millers at the time which barely qualifies as liquid, let alone beer). However, there still exists in Britain the vague idea that wines and spirits are more feminine as they are ‘crafted’ with ‘attention to taste’, while beer is a rough and ready drink that ‘does not taste nice’. I have also heard it said that there is absolutely nothing sexy about a girl drinking a pint. Well, to the latter I say that there is absolutely nothing at all sexy about a man who will dismiss a girl purely because she drinks pints. To the former I beat my forehead and raise my voice in my eternal cry of ‘BEER IS CRAFTED TOO! ’ And don’t even get me started on the amount of attention to taste that goes into brewing.
Now, ladies, I can understand why you do not want to drink the liquid belch that is often referred to as ‘beer’ which spews forth from the taps and fridges of club bars nationwide. Tennent's, Stella, Tetley's – I’m looking at you. That’s right, hang your excessively frothy heads in shame. These offenders do have a markedly similar taste, and that taste is bitter and chemical. True beer, however, comes in as many different flavours, colours, and strengths as you like. Prefer a light, refreshing drink? Here’s a pale ale for you. Want something with a bit more of a kick to it? Head to the darker end of the spectrum. Like sweet, strong drinks? Look for something made with chocolate malt. Something to sip during a chat with your mates? A mild red ale, perhaps. We can even do coffee-flavoured beer (much better for you than real coffee, much tastier than a decaf).
Still avoiding beer because it’s ‘bad for you’? Tune in next week (or whenever I feel like posting) for a probably somewhat aggressive debunk of beer health-myths.