Girly Beer: Does not Exist!by brandon / Apr 25, 2012
Editor's Note: This week, guest blogger Brandon Plyler delves into common misconceptions about beer and women. Leave your assumptions at the door, and get your learn on below. Cheers! -ETP
As we roll into to the summer months (well, 8 out 12 here), shelves and tap towers begin to devote themselves to the lighter side of beer...
Actually, light things, fruit-infused things, "summer" this, "ballpark" that are fairly much prevalent throughout the year here. For hardcore beer enthusiasts summer presents a portfolio of beers that usually receive groans and grimaces as they continue with a glass of Imperial Stout in the magic that is central air conditioning. Personally, I love Pilsner weather, and a certain strawberry-infused lager from Abita is more than a guilty pleasure. A slightly tart Berliner Weisse, macerated with peaches from Dogfish Head is also welcomed, as is a peach-wheat beer made here in the Palmetto State. These beers are sometimes referred to as "Girly Beers," terminology that is equally insulting to women and beer.
In the Beginning
Beer is thought to be an accidental discovery of humans. Stale bread left in a crock that was soaked with rain water and neglected to the appetite of wild, roaming yeast would have manifested itself into an alcoholic beverage. The need for a constant grain supply to continue the unending demand of this beer has been hypothesized as the reason humans put plow to earth and cast off the shackles of nomadic life. Early brewers where highly valued as the bringers of magic, ones who could take bread (already magical in its own right) and turn it into a nutritional and intoxicating beverage. This beverage would have accompanied spiritual endeavors as well generally knocked the rough edges off Neolithic existence. These brewers were probably women. Already held in a high spiritual regard for producing and nurturing life, women probably would have performed most skilled labor whilst the men-folk plowed or spent time in the wilderness attempting to stab some food to death. One of the earliest examples of the written word in fact is the Sumerian Hymn to Ninkasi, essentially a beer recipe offered up to the Goddess of Brewing.
Later on, women still had the duty of brewing beer. In fact, it would have accompanied the rest of the household duties deemed "women's work." Beer was essential to the health of the day, being boiled and with slight alcohol content it was much safer than water and was consumed daily. All day, in fact. By, everyone. Keep in mind this table beer would have been in the neighborhood of 1.5-3% abv. Ale-wives were permitted to brew a little extra for sale, until of course they started to turn a real profit. They even planted ale-stakes outside of their homes to announce that business was open. At that point, the men-folk began the commercialization of brewing and Ale-wives where dunked in the river for staking out on their own in the first place. Naturally, the taxman played a role as well. Homebrewers are tough to keep track of.
Dark and Strong, but Smooth...
Britain has long been famous for her top-fermenting delights. Strong beers, Stout beers, have been made for hundreds of years. Stout has been used as an adjective for beer of all color at some point in time. Stout today refers to a hearty, black beer full in character and flavor. Today, stouts that are prefaced with the word Imperial are some of the largest and most luxurious offerings of any brewers’ portfolio. Originally, so the story goes, shipments of beer that were sent to the Imperial Courts of Czarist Russia fared poorly on the journey. The Czars, beginning with Peter, appreciated the charms of porter (stout) in England, fostering an early demand. However, it was an Empress that demanded shipments! Barrels of porter bound for a vacation across the North Sea were made stronger, richer, and hoppier than before. Long and cold sea voyages mellowed the beer into a rich port-like elixir bent on warming the coldest evenings. Catherine's likeness and name is still used today to market Imperial Stout.
Women begin their experiments with beer much in the same way men do. Typically below the legal age. Typically with whatever can be procured by any means available. Whatever can be procured typical falls into the realm of cheap and widely available, both elements that are of no consequence. Effect is the goal. Many women, wisely I might add, reject the taste and smell of these beers immediately. Out of what must be assumed is commercial-driven machismo, men continue to consume. They continue to demand what equates to the most flavorless, watered down, dull beer to ever be crammed into a can. Wine and spirits call the rest away.
To say that all women buy girly beer is a sin. Pay attention on your next trip to the store. Notice who is walking away with the 12-pack of lime-infused rice lager. Notice who grabs the fruited wheat beer. What if he isn't seeing anyone? What if it's all for him?
Sour beers are fairly popular these days. They should be, though they are nothing new. Sour beers have always been made, always utilizing wild organisms and souring agents that make their home in oak barrels. Always challenging the most complex of any wines anywhere with their refreshing acidity and oak perfume. Often considered to be the pinnacle of enjoyment for the developed beer palate. The next time you are in a fine beer store, notice who is buying them. Is she seeing anyone? What if it's all for her?
Photo from Flickr user Weefz, licensed under Creative Commons.