Tag Archives: bars

Beer: Not just for dudes anymore

2 Sep

Ever since Byron gave me my first tour of the Red Hook Brewery in the Summer of 2009, I’ve loved beer.  While this appreciation came too late to fully enjoy all that my junior semester abroad had to offer, Boston definitely has many beer avenues (and cobblestone sidewalks) to venture down.  Whether it be PBR in a room full of hipsters and my dad, countless 2 oz samples at a beerfest, or an import at a snotty Cambridge bar, beer has been an enjoyable past time.

photo courtesy of Cosette Hirschfeld http://lewisclarkandcosette.tumblr.com/

Lately, I’ve been exploring the craft beer scene in Boston, looking at it through–surprise, surprise– a feminist lens. It’s true that it is a sphere pretty much dominated by men.  There are a lot of reasons that women shy away from beer, opting instead for fruity cocktails.  For one thing, beer is seen my some as inherently un-feminine.  For example, my mom always tsks when she sees women at formal events holding beer bottles.  “Look at that gorgeous dress, why is she holding a beer bottle in the picture?, ” she’ll ask, without even noticing the tuxedoed guys hoisting their BLs in the air like trophies.  Of course, another possible reason women avoid beer is to stay away from those nasty carbs and calories.  I have to admit, that is part of the reason it took me so long to pick up a pint.  Some women just don’t like the taste, either empirically or because they have never been encouraged to develop a taste (see points above).  However, more women have been entering the craft beer scene, both as consumers and as producers.

Some, like Ester Tetreault and Martha Paquette, make up the better halves of the husband-wife duos behind Trillium Brewing Company and the Pretty Things Beer and Ale project, respectively.  Now, if we could only get the press to refer to them as partners-to, instead of merely wives-of, we’d be making even more feminist strides.  There are a number of women beer bloggers, such as The Beer Babe or Melissa Cole.  Suzanne Schalow and Kate Baker, the forces behind WomeninbeeR and the Craft Beer Cellar, have been some of the biggest names in Boston beer ever since they were managers at Cambridge Common.

As I’ve explored more beers and bars, I’ve had only positive first-hand experiences.  I don’t recall being taken less seriously by a bartender because I’m a woman.  At fests, my ode to Six Point or backwards-middle-finger to Dogfish (a sign of love, I swear) have been accepted with open arms.  When I ask questions about ingredients, I’m treated like a curious customer, not a ditzy blonde.  The only real gender stereotype I’ve personally encountered is the surprised look from a server or bartender when I order a porter instead of a witbier.  But, you know, I love defying gender norms like that :).

At the same time, I can’t ignore the fact that the beer industry, both commercial and craft, is one that leans most heavily on that good ol’ standby, objectification of women, in its advertising.  So how do I reconcile this?  Easy, kind of.  For one, I try not to buy from breweries I find offensive.  I say “try” because a Clown Shoes Clementine is a lot harder to pass up than a Coors.  Also, I keep showing up.  I love the fact that a lot more women are becoming respected figures in the beer/bar scene, and admire many of them as individuals.  Go behind the scenes at any BeerAdvocate event, and you’ll know it’s Candice running the show.  Maybe the whole liberal-feminist-wish of equality through numbers in the workforce could actually happen in the beer world.  Maybe the glass will be reserved for pouring beer into, not for ceilings.  <–Sorry, I had to.

Women have a greater role than just looking cute in a dirndl or the shakin’ it as the  hot, sassy bartender (but feel free to be hot and sassy, if that’s the kinda mood you happen to be in).  It just so happens that this month is a particularly fantastic one for beer.  First, Shipyard Pumpkinhead recently made its annual appearance.  Next, we have two great fests coming up soon!  Perfect time to put down the Cosmo and try something new.  No shoulder pads needed.