Sexism in Craft Beer? Not Here. Why Being a Female Beer Drinker in L.A. is Awesome

Sexism in Craft Beer? Not Here. Why Being a Female Beer Drinker in L.A. is Awesome
Lydia Chain

Last week, First We Feast ran a well-reported story about how craft beer has failed its growing female fan base. Given that 15 percent of craft beer drinkers are now women between the ages of 21 and 34, it should only make sense that breweries and marketing companies begin to acknowledge this shift in clientele and stop acting as if every tippler is a chubby bearded dude from Portland, right? Right?!?

Unfortunately, like porn and it’s overall lack of lady love, that’s definitely not the case in beer — at least not on a national level, where macro-brand commercials still tell guys they can use bottles of Bud Light to take home chicks, and even craft breweries in other beer regions give their brews names like Kilt Lifter, Tramp Stamp and Panty Peeler.

Thankfully, in our experience, Los Angeles is probably one of the least sexist places to be a woman who drinks craft beer. And though there are of course still prejudice bartenders and a few major jerks out there who can’t comprehend how anyone who wears a bra could possibly know more than them about such a manly beverage, we are proud to present a rebuttal to this and other stories that have lamented the overlooked and often-stereotyped female craft beer drinker.

Behold, five reasons why it’s awesome to be a female drinking craft beer in Los Angeles:

Sexism in Craft Beer? Not Here. Why Being a Female Beer Drinker in L.A. is Awesome
Sarah Bennett

5. Beer Here is New to Everyone, Not Just Women
In Los Angeles, the craft beer scene is barely five years old, meaning we don’t have the decades of production history nor an “Old Boys Club” that has allowed sexist ideas about beer to fester as it has in other parts of the country. There’s a reason why the common perception of a craft beer drinker is a bearded white guy: for years that was a correct assessment. But as young women discover craft beer in places with historically male beer cultures, they are struggling (or at least finding it more difficult) to fully integrate. Here, as we build a craft beer culture from scratch, the male consumers are, overall, just as ignorant as the female ones. We’re all discovering this new world together, so gender is a serious non-issue.

Beachwood's second anniversary taplist (including Zwick in a Box)
Beachwood's second anniversary taplist (including Zwick in a Box)
Sarah Bennett

4. L.A. Brewers Objectify Themselves Before Women
One of the most discussed manifestations of sexism in craft beer is through the naming and labeling of certain brews. Besides the obviously atrocious Chick Beer (a light beer with a pink label), there are other examples, however innocent seeming (we’re looking at you, BJ’s Brewhouse and your Nutty Brewnette), that can’t help but perpetuate the alienation of female beer drinkers. L.A.’s brewers are smarter than that. Our beer names are usually tame, locally oriented or reflect the character and personality of that particular brewery. And when they do veer into the sexual realm — as Long Beach’s Beachwood BBQ and Brewing and Anaheim’s Noble Ale Works often do — they are always so humorously male-objectifying (Naughty Sauce, Zwick in a Box, Man’s Milk) that they are clearly meant to make the ladies laugh too.

Sexism in Craft Beer? Not Here. Why Being a Female Beer Drinker in L.A. is Awesome
Lydia Chain

3. Beer Fests are not Sausagefests
At the Great American Beer Festival each year, 50,000 beer-loving attendees — mostly men — convene on the Colorado Convention Center to taste through beer from more than 700 of the country’s breweries. Women are so rare that the few who are on site get ogled, or are at least the recipient of weird looks. Not so in Los Angeles, where female beer drinkers appear to be as common as their male counterparts. From the L.A. Vegan Beer Fest to the L.A. Beer Week Kickoff Festival, mixed-gender crowds are the norm. This includes not only the fans, but also those behind the booth as well, where woman are just as likely to be pouring beer as they are drinking it. Which brings us to the next reason...

Laurie Porter, co-owner Smog City Brewing at GABF 2013
Laurie Porter, co-owner Smog City Brewing at GABF 2013
Sarah Bennett

2. We Have Numerous Female Brewers, Beer Buyers, Brewery Owners and Beertenders
If you are a regular craft beer drinker in Los Angeles, you have a lot of women to thank for not only those impressive tap lists, but the beer itself. In addition to being educated beertenders at everywhere from Surly Goat to Library Alehouse, many female craft beer industry workers are also behind the ordering and procuring of kegs at your favorite bars. Both City Taverns, all three of the Congregation Ale Houses, Mohawk Bend and dozens more reputable establishments are helmed by lady beer buyers. This is not even to mention the rampant female presence at the ownership level of L.A.’s biggest breweries (Smog City, Ladyface Ale Companie, Eagle Rock, Golden Road, etc.) nor their presence behind the kettles themselves (Alexandra Nowell is brewmaster at Three Weavers and the area’s homebrew clubs boast tons of female board members).

The Women's Beer Forum at Eagle Rock Brewery
The Women's Beer Forum at Eagle Rock Brewery
Sarah Bennett

1. All the Lady-Centric Events
Since early on, some of the oldest breweries in the region have been hosting approachable, educational and informative social events geared specifically towards women, and no doubt these well-curated monthly get-togethers are a big reason for L.A. beer’s immediate embrace by female drinkers. Eagle Rock Brewery co-owner Ting Su presents a monthly Women’s Beer Forum in her brewhouse where a theme is explored, or a special guest (almost always a woman) chooses a flight and talks all the attendees through it. The vibe is part seminar, part cocktail hour with mingling occurring alongside an ego-free question-and-answer session. Ladyface Ale Companie’s Women's Fermentables & Comestibles Education & Tippling Society (aka Ladies at Ladyface) is a more casual female-friendly meetup that invites attendees to bring a bottle to share based around a theme. Though education is a huge component, conversations tend to veer off beer and into the rest of life, but the camaraderie developed among fellow lady beer fans always carries well beyond the evening.


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