Women Enjoying Beer: State of Women and Beer

So, a few months back I filled out this survey put together by the ladies over at Women Enjoying Beer.  Well they’re now in the home stretch of their Women + Beer Survey for 2012 campaign and they need your help to reach 100% US representation. The survey is an opportunity for all women, whether they consume beer or not, to speak up about their relationship with beer. They’ll be publishing various works based on their research, which will include information gathered from the 2012 Survey. (Watch for those to start being available in early 2013.)

A few states are still unrepresented: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Mississippi, North Dakota, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Wyoming. We know for a fact there are women and beer in all these states as well – please ask those you know to help WEB reach 100%.  In fact, women globally are encouraged to contribute. Those that have include Canada and Australia. Last Submissions Due 12/15/12.

Consumers & professionals alike are encouraged to contribute. WEB reminds their readers that those who provide feedback are helping to elevate beer, promote equality for women, and shift culture forward.  Anyway, I thought maybe you’d like to see how I answered the survey questions… a chance to get better acquainted with The Craft Beer Girl, if you will.  At the end, I’ve also posted the link to the survey, in case you’re interested in filling it out yourself.


Women + Beer 2012

I started drinking beer, in the general sense, at college frat parties nearly a decade ago. For years I stuck with the American light lagers that were familiar, cheap, and well suited for mass consumption. It wasn’t until about two years ago, that I began to explore the world of craft beer and develop a taste for higher quality ales.  At the time, my fiancé managed a craft beer bar. He and his friends have even talked about starting their own brewery one day. I recently began blogging at www.theCraftBeerGirl.com as a way to document our adventures as we continue to learn more about beer and the craft brewing industry.

Why do you drink beer?
My fiancé, a bartender and bar manager at a local craft beer bar, introduced me to a wide assortment of craft beers and, together, we started learning more and more about the emerging world of American craft beer.  Now, I’ve not only developed a taste for high quality ingredients and complex flavors, but I continue to drink craft beer for the opportunity to connect with the craft beer community, both brewers and beer drinkers alike.

Why do you like beer?
I like beer for its variety.  There’s a beer out there for every season, every palate, every meal… and when you match the right beer with the perfect circumstances, there’s a synergy that is hard to beat.  Not to mention it gets you drunk, and that’s when the fun starts.

What kinds of beers do you like?
A nice west coast IPA, one with big grapefruit notes like Rogue’s Brutal IPA, is usually my go-to style… though lately, as the weather’s gotten colder, I find myself drawn to dark, creamy stouts & porters.

How often to you drink beer and what helps dictate that pattern (however varied)?
I drink beer almost daily.  Whether it’s an evening out, or a Saturday afternoon spent homebrewing with friends, or even just unwinding after a long day with a good beer and some TV, it’s not unusual to see a beer in my hand.

What would compel you to try a beer you haven’t tried before?
I love trying new beer!  Sometimes just the fact that I haven’t tried it before is enough, but if it’s got a well-designed label, I gotta try it!

What dictates when you choose what beer?
Sometimes it just depends on what’s available.  Other times I look at things like the time of year (I love stouts in the winter), or if I’m pairing with a specific meal, or buying beer for a certain group of friends.

What do you want from your beer? Conversely, what don’t you want from your beer?
I like session beers.  I can’t drink more than 1 or 2 beers with an ABV of 9% if I need to drive home afterwards.  My ideal beer has good flavor with an ABV of about 5-6%.  I love trying beers that push the limits but they probably won’t become my go-to choice for regular drinking.  In addition to taste though, I’m interested in beer made by brewers that love beer and brew with quality ingredients.  I love the spirit of craft brewing and I am interested in supporting breweries that champion the commitment to quality and sense of community that craft beer was born out of.

What kind of beer education or social beer opportunities would you like to take advantage of?
I love learning about beer… I love beer pairing dinners that help guide drinkers on what combinations complement or set off beer & food flavors.  There are a couple places around me that do “beer school” nights where they offer a sampling from a specific brewery or a specific style and provide info about what you taste along the way.  One of my favorite, and I think the best way to learn about beer, is to go on brewery tours… seeing the equipment as your host guides you through the brewery and explains their process is tons of fun.

How do you want the beer companies to address/acknowledge you as a female beer drinker?
The majority of marketing we see in the mainstream media is targeted towards women.  But the female [craft] beer drinker is a little different than the “mainstream” woman.  The female craft beer drinker isn’t likely to be too concerned with her weight, so ditch the “skinny girl” type branding… she’s not likely to be very girly, so skip the pastels and animal print… and she’s tired of being “marketed to” so don’t insult her intelligence.

What kind of atmosphere do you prefer when you drink beer?
I prefer a relaxed environment… doesn’t have to be too quiet, just quiet enough so that I can enjoy a conversation with those around me without feeling like I have to yell over a crowd.  I love good beer bars with knowledgeable bartenders that will stop and chat with you a bit while you’re there.  That’s not always possible if the place is busy, but a friendly host (or hostess!) is one of the things I value most when I’m out.

What are some elements of atmosphere that turn you off, even to the point of not patronizing a place because of them?
The staff is #1.  If I go somewhere, and feel like the staff is bothered by my presence, I’m outta there and not likely to return.  I try to avoid bars that are packed shoulder to shoulder because most of the time it takes forever to get a beer and you have to yell over the crowd to have a conversation.  Beer selection plays a role, although if there are a few good beers on tap, that’s really all I need… as long as they change it up a little so there’s something new to try periodically.  I don’t like drinking the same thing over and over.

What do you think about present beer marketing and advertising as it relates to you as a woman?
The big beer companies like AB InBev market to men.  Their advertising portrays women as weak, dumb, and nagging… or they objectify women, painting pictures of top-heavy swimsuit models.  The craft beer industry tends to go after a more intelligent beer drinker, so this approach isn’t employed as heavily… however, big or small, women are still grossly underrepresented in the beer market.  I’d like to see beer marketing that includes women without making them feel like they have to be “one of the guys” to fit in.

Does size matter for your beer?
Not really, as long as size (volume) is proportionate to price, I’m fine. Especially when considering beers with high ABVs… I’m ok drinking less for an equivalent buzz.

If I use the word “craft” beer, what does that mean to you?
There are definitely exceptions to this… but when I hear “craft beer” I usually think of American, small, independent breweries making beer with quality ingredients.  I guess I typically think of a few specific styles as well… American IPAs (and DIPAs), pale ales, stouts & porters, and specialty beers with non-traditional ingredients.

If you use the term “craft” how do you define non-craft beer?
I consider non-craft beer to be anything from a mass-production brewery like AB InBev or MillerCoors (bud light, mich ultra, etc.) Of course, the lines blur a little when talking about some of the “craft brands” from these major companies (Boddingtons, Blue Moon, Leinenkugel’s) but for the most part, it’s the light American lagers that initially come to mind.

Do you drink any combination of beer, wine and spirits (please specify if so)?
I rarely drink wine, only very occasionally when I’m out or at a friend’s house and it’s offered.  I do opt for spirits periodically.  When I do, I usually go with vodka or a specialty cocktail if the place has something that piques my interest.

Do you find learning about beer to have any roadblock for you? If so – what are they?
The biggest roadblock I’ve faced is a lack of time.  With work and the obligations of daily life, there isn’t always enough time left to visit a new brewery or read up on a new beer.

What kinds of establishments do you patronize to drink beer and why do you choose them?
I love “beer bars”… regular pubs and bars with a wide (and rotating) selection of American craft beers.

What kinds of establishments will you avoid when you want to drink beer and why?
When I ask what beers they have on tap and they list 5 or 6 cheap domestics that all taste the same, it’s not a good sign that I’ll be back.

What would you say is a rough percentage breakdown of drinking beer in your own home, drinking beer out, and drinking at friends’ (non public establishments)?
60% drinking out, 25% at home, 15% at a friend’s house

Does weather affect your beer habits and if so how?
I am a very seasonal beer drinker… when it’s cold outside I go crazy for stouts & porters, in the summer time I love crisp refreshing wheat beers and citrusy IPAs.

Have you ever homebrewed?
I have helped participate in a few homebrews, but I have never really done it myself.

If you’re a home brewer or live with one, will you take those beers with you to places and people? Tell us about why you do or don’t.
Yes, we love to take beer to our friends and family to try to see what they think… but we keep the circle of taste-testers small because we don’t have a huge supply and we want to make sure we have enough to enjoy ourselves too!

If you have homebrewed, tell us why you tried it or why you currently do it (however sporadic).
We just love beer! So we figured, why not learn as much as we can about the brewing process!?

What other factors affect your buying and or consumption of beer?
I’m a huge sucker for marketing and package design.  If a beer has a cool label, I’ll buy it at least once.

Will you travel to try a beer and if so why; if no – why not?
I’ve never traveled far for a beer (maybe to a bar across town) but I can’t say I never would.  Especially to try beer that isn’t available around me… anytime I’m traveling, I’m definitely on the lookout for brewpubs and breweries nearby that I can swing into for a visit.

How far will you travel to get a beer and what are the factors you consider in doing so?
I’ll travel for an experience, I’d go clear across the country to visit a bunch of west coast breweries that I’ve never had.  Would I fly cross-country to drink a beer by itself? Probably not.

What do you drink when you travel?
I like to drink whatever the local breweries are putting out… When in Rome….

Have you ever expressly taken a trip with a focus on beer in any way? Tell us about it.
Where do you shop for your beer?
Our local grocery store has a pretty good beer section (Wegmans) so I’ll shop there for the convenience when I’m also buying groceries.  But if I’m looking for something specific, or I’m only buying beer, I’m going to one of the local retailers that has a more specialized selection… In Rochester, NY, Nathaniel Square Corner Store is my favorite place to buy beer.

If you’re a cross drinker (drink beer, wine and spirits) what is the breakdown percentage wise of how often you choose each of the 3 drinks?
I drink mostly beer, with only an occasional glass of wine or cocktail now and then.

Are there any beers you won’t try or buy? Why?
I haven’t found one yet!

Please tell us what you think or know what beer distributors do.
Beer distributors connect producers and retailers as part of the 3-tier system.  I don’t know much about the logistics of it all though.

What kind of beer marketing do you notice and why?
I’m interested in beer so I notice it everywhere… I find myself especially sensitive to product placement in movies or TV when a familiar craft brand is used instead of one of the normal “big beer” brands that we see so much of.

Where do you notice beer marketing, in any formats (billboards, TV, magazines, online, posters, packaging, etc.)?
Everywhere!  I love packaging but I find myself struck most by beer marketing when I come across it in a place I don’t expect it, like product placement on TV, Billboards, or somewhere else that I don’t normally see craft beer.

Why do you notice the beer marketing you do?
I love product design, I’m a graphic design & typography nerd so packaging appeals to my creative senses.  I also love social media so any brewery that uses social media in a creative way to market their brand will catch my attention.

Tell us if you think current beer marketing is inclusive of women and why (or why not).
Mainstream beer marketing is not, they continue to market to men, portraying women as sex objects, or nagging bitches.  Craft beer tends to be more about the beer itself, the ingredients, or the story behind the beer, the brewery, etc.  That is interesting to me and I do find it inclusive of women for the most part.

What kind/s of marketing – in any category – gets your attention and why?
I love social media, viral marketing, creative promotions, and good design.  Appeal to my creativity and I’m sold.

How do you want to be marketed to as a woman who enjoys beer?
Don’t dumb it down or “pink-it-up”, I’m an intelligent person looking for a high quality product… market to me as a knowledgeable consumer, not as a woman.

What can a beer oriented company do to get your attention?
Engage me.  Talk to me on twitter, post behind the scene pictures on facebook, be accessible and authentic.  And of course, make amazing beer!

Do you use any social media platforms – if so which ones; if no why not?
YES, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WordPress, Linked In, About.me, Flickr, Pinterest, FourSquare, Untappd… I spend a lot of time on the Internet.

When are you likely to buy a beer solely based on an advertising campaign or marketing effort?
If it’s got a cool looking bottle, especially if it’s from a brand I know, I’ll try it at least once.

What does a beer company, restaurant, bar or distributor have to do to get you to buy from them more than once?
Give me the selection I’m looking for and employ knowledgeable staff.  I want to build a relationship with the establishments I frequent most, if I can do that, I’m hooked and will return over and over.

Are you loyal to any brands (or any sort) and if so why? If not, why not?
Absolutely, there are a couple brands (namely Southern Tier, Great Lakes & Sixpoint) that are readily available where I live and have a great selection of high quality beers.  Southern Tier especially, I love almost everything they put out, making them my “go-to” brand when beer shopping.

Do you want to know the story of the beer business and why or why not?
Yeah!  I love learning about beer.

How does knowing anything about the beer company influence your purchasing of their products?
Knowing a little back story helps me feel connected to the product I’m buying, I like to feel like I’m a part of the process.

Do you want to know about beer company’s fiscal, social, and environmental practices – why or why not?
I don’t mind hearing about it now and then, if a beer company gets too preachy about one cause or idea I tend to lose interest, I want it to be about the beer primarily.

Are you the primary caregiver of your household? Do you buy the majority of all products for the household?
Yes and Yes.

Does a care giving role influence your relationship and consumption of beer? If so how so, if not, please explain.
Right now, not much… We don’t have children yet so enjoying beer is something my fiancé and I do as a couple.  I imagine when we have kids my role will change a bit and I’ll have to find a way to balance beer with a family.

What about your lifestyle and family (however large or compact) affects or influences your beer consumption?
My fiancé and I both love beer so it’s become a great way for us to enjoy time and learn together.