NY Daily News: More women getting into craft beer, not just as drinkers but also as brewers

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More women getting into craft beer, not just as drinkers but also as brewers

Long Islander Lauri Spitz co-founded Moustache Brewing Co. with her husband Matthew.Beer-loving ladies are rallying for a woman’s right to brews.

A feminist movement is bubbling up in the beer industry, as more women lean in to the bar to buy — and brew — craft beer.

“Guys expect me to order a white wine with an ice cube,” says self-described “hop head” Cristina Schreil, 24, from Forest Hills. “I like big flavors and a lot of my girlfriends also tend to lean toward more adventurous beers.”

We’re not talking about drinks that are pink, low-cal or sugary. Take Moustache Brewing Company’s everyman — and everywoman — porter, which boasts subtle notes of chocolate and coffee and was whipped up by Long Island’s only female brewer. “I hate going out and seeing the same 10 things on tap,” says Lauri Spitz, 30, who’s opening up shop with her husband in Riverhead next month. “I’m always looking for something I’ve never had.”

Cristina Schreil enjoys Girls Pint Out at the Alewife in Long Island City.

Jeff Bachner/for New York Daily News

Cristina Schreil enjoys Girls Pint Out at the Alewife in Long Island City.

Meet the ladies who lager — women as comfortable knocking back a cold one as their male drinking buddies. It’s a grassroots movement that’s fermenting in the booming microbrew world.

While big domestics like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors air big-budget bromercials with women as bikini models, not beer connoisseurs, ladies remain an untapped market. Just 20% opt for beer over other drinks, compared to more than half of men, a recent Gallup poll says.

But women make up 37% of those downing craft beers — suds from breweries making 6 million barrels or fewer each year — like Brooklyn Lager and Fat Tire.

“Craft beer is helping to reclaim some women beer lovers,” says Julia Herz, program director for the industry group the Brewers Association.

Owner Roz Donagher drawsa pint for Girls Pint Out at the Alewife in Long Island City.

Jeff Bachner/for New York Daily News

Owner Roz Donagher drawsa pint for Girls Pint Out at the Alewife in Long Island City.

The smaller-batch brews are spurring a beer renaissance, with 2,403 American breweries operating in 2012 — the highest since the industry’s peak in the 1880s. And with upstart brands cashing in on a cultural fascination with all things local and artisanal, all it takes for women to get into the industry is hops and dreams.

“It’s very common nowadays to come across women in the lab, women in the brewhouse, and women in roles beyond marketing and sales,” says Herz.

The Brewers Association doesn’t have hard numbers on how many women are tapping in, but the New York City Craft Beer Festival at the Lexington Avenue Armory this weekend reports a bump in girls who love Grolsch. “Our craft beer tastings have seen in increase in female attendees,” says fest organizer Robert Howell Jr., who expects a 60/40 split between men and women.

When Portland’s Teri Fahrendorf founded the Pink Boots Society for female brewers in 2007, she counted just 60 members. Today there are close to 1,000, including Gwen Conley at Flying Dog, Kim Jordan at New Belgium Brewing Company and Sebbie Buhler at Rogue Ales.

From left, Mary Babcock, Jenn Litz and Roz Donagher enjoy Girls Pint Out at the Alewife in Long Island City.

Jeff Bachner/for New York Daily News

From left, Mary Babcock, Jenn Litz and Roz Donagher enjoy Girls Pint Out at the Alewife in Long Island City.

October’s International Great Beer Expo on Long Island was far from a sausage fest. “[Women] were drinking and participating, and not just there being the designated driver or being dragged out by their boyfriends,” says Spitz.

Women and beer actually go way back. Ancient Egyptian and Sumerian ladies brewed the first beers. And chick colonists provided the drinks in early America, crafting suds from the corn and wheat their husbands harvested.

So what changed? Well, the Industrial Revolution made beer a big business and men started dipping their hands in it. Ever since, beer has been a boys’ club..

“Every Bud commercial is about a dude and his friends,” says Spitz. “If there is a girl, she’s either serving them beers or she’s half naked. If I wasn’t into beer, that’s not going to make me want to get into beer.”

Bud Light Lime introduced flavors like Lime-a-Rita to appeal to women.

PR NEWSWIRE

Bud Light Lime introduced flavors like Lime-a-Rita to appeal to women.

Anheuser-Busch marketing VP Paul Chibe argues Bud’s ads show a world that’s “co-ed and aspirational for both sexes.”

“We want to reflect society as it is today, not 30 years ago.”

Chibe insists women “seek variety and sweeter flavors” — and his company’s Bud Light Lime-a-Rita and Straw-ber-Rita attract 5% more female buyers than other Bud brands.

But other big brewery attempts to seduce women have largely gone flat. MillerCoors rolled out its MGD64 Lemonade, a citrusy 64-calorie light beer in 2011 and discontinued it less than three months later. Then came Animee, a “less gassy” U.K. beer that came in flavors like crisp rose and zesty lemon. It lasted 13 months.

Women have traditionally been seen as a means of selling beer to men, rather than a viable market.

Handout

Women have traditionally been seen as a means of selling beer to men, rather than a viable market.

Many female beer experts find such girly brews insulting.

“It just makes me want to throw up,” says Spitz, who prefers stouts, thank you very much. “Those sweet kind of things are their way of grasping at straws for people who don’t drink beer.”

So female beer experts are trying to turn more women into regular Jane Sixpacks with groups like Barley’s Angels, Crafty Ladies and Girls Pint Out. These national meet-ups invite women to take back the pint and taste different beers alongside their sisters.

“Usually women do not know enough about beer, and they are too embarrassed to ask,” says Spitz, who started a Girls Pint Out club in Long Island in 2010. “But once you talk to them for a couple of minutes, and give them a little education, you see that light bulb go off. Women who don’t usually like dark beer learn to love a nice stout.”

The group’s co-founder, Jenn Litz, branched into the boroughs in October by introducing the New Belgium Sin and Tonic Ale at the Alewife bar in Long Island City — which naturally belongs to beer-loving lady Roz Donagher.

Future events will include a Women’s History Month celebration next year with ladies pouring each other pints of local brews like KelSo — which was founded by a wife and husband team.

“There’s definitely a gender gap to be bridged,” says Litz. “We’re just trying to do that in a fun girls-night-out format.”

The goal is to help ladies break through that pint glass ceiling.

“It’s just the tip of the iceberg,” says Litz. “You’re going to see a lot more female brewers.”

Author:
NICOLE LYN PESCE
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