Denver Hotel Bar

Today’s post goes out to Joel and Wes of Knoxville Tennessee. I had the pleasure of coincidentally sitting at the same bar in the hotel last night for a beer and dinner.

gorgeous snowy Denver Colorado

gorgeous snowy Denver Colorado

They’re in Denver to ski – excellent plan – and I’m here on (pleasurable) business. One great thing about Women Enjoying Beer is that it’s a real conversation starter.

“Really?” is the comment from a lot of people when I introduce myself and pass them a business card. Beer holds a lot of allure and fascination regardless of if people drink much beer or not.

(I know…tough job. I do take it seriously while having fun at it though.)

So Joel asked me last night – what did I think were the two top reasons women didn’t drink much beer.

I turned the question and asked him what he thought the reasons were. His answer: calories and carbs.

Bingo – one exact reason WEB is around is to bust those kinds of myths.

Not so – and this is according to the hundreds of women I have talked to about beer, whether formally in focus groups or casually at, say, hotel bars. The calorie and carbs issue is a perfect example of advertisers marketing to what they think women want – without necessarily asking them directly. It’s someone else’s lens placed on the view.

And while health is  part of the conversation for women and beer, as it is for men as well, it’s not the very top of mind issue.

The top two would easily be:

Number 1 they haven’t been marketed to accurately and authentically hence little engagement.

And number 2 that they haven’t been actively and consistently pursued educationally. i.e. breweries specifically reaching out to women about beer – not pandering or patronizing. Reaching out – recognizing the potential, realizing that beer should be genderless in it’s audience yet  you have to first capture that market share to address it (like any market share).

And it’s not what I think. Those answers come from a large number of women from all kinds of backgrounds and in many different demographics.

Thanks Joel for the lively conversation and asking questions. The conversation has to include all genders. I hope you two had a fun night in Denver. How was Wynkoop?

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Keg, Bottles (and not vs.) Cans

p1040169This is a good article on outlining why cans can be a good option. Thinking about it is the first step.

Indeed, whatever receptacle we choose to get our beer in, be conscientious of its impact, how, why, when, again and so forth.

Taste profiles of beers right out of a can and right out of a bottle and right out of a keg and right out of a serving vessel….

Keep in mind beer is always best fresh, best served how it should be served regardless of how it comes.  There are resources aplenty of the sensory science behind glassware. Rebecca would know for sure.

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Books Referenced

Some of the books I showed the crowd at the recent men’s beer and food pairing included:

1. Randy Mosher’s Tasting Beer

2. Garrett Oliver’s The Brewmaster’s Table

3. Anything by Michael Jackson – in this case one of his pocket guides

4. I would have highlighted Lucy Saunders’ The Best of American Beer & Food had it not been on loan

5. An older (1995) selection by Stephen Beaumont

6. Charlie’s Complete Joy of Homebrewing

We need more women to chime in – in book form – on the beer with food.

Any takers?

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Glass Matters

Found on the table after the event...

Found on the table after the event...

The different beers served with the recent men’s beer pairing and tasting:

  1. Stout – small straight cylindrical taster
  2. Lager – half pint glass
  3. IPA – half pint glass
  4. Barleywine – flute
  5. Double IPA – wine glass
  6. Cider – flute

Glassware matters. Focus groups have told me time and again that what they drink out of is can be integral part of the experience to them.

  • Size
  • Capacity
  • Style
  • And for those who know sensory science, Design

Beer deserves to have its own and proper glasses for serving. Just like the wine industry has identified glasses that optimize the wine, brandy makers have snifters and so forth.

The glassware we had on hand and used was partially to get them to rethink their drink. Looking at it for color and head, smelling it for aromas, swirling it about for aeration, ideas for presentation.

Rethinking requires a new approach be taken. Different glassware can do that.



We Men Enjoying Beer: The Second Half

Building on yesterday’s post per a men’s beer tasting and pairing at Standing Stone Brewing Company in Ashland Oregon last week…

p1040357Course 4

Barley wine with a Marion Berry salad. The slightly fruitier flavors, medium body, mid octane barley wine paired well to bring out the medium flavors of this salad. Marionberries are of Oregon so it also featured a local fruit with the local fresh beer.

One guest shared he had poached some scallops in a barley wine with yummy results. Good suggestion.

Course 5

Double India Pale Ale with hearth baked pretzel and Marionberry mustard. Sweet and hot, chewy and crisp. All words to describe the flavors in this course. We had a contrast of the house made agave ketchup as well.

There aren’t a plethora of Double IPA’s yet and the crew at SSBC is really proud of the one they make. (Vinnie’s is a really nice choice too.)

Course 6

Wandering Aengus Cider with fresh cheeses. I chose a cider on purpose to get people to rethink what else can also be compatible in tastings. Ciders are a great gluten free choice as well. The fresh cheese we chose included the very local and award winning Rogue Creamery Cheddar, made just for SSBC. Mmmmmmmm.

The lushness of the crisp and still fruity cider worked nicely with the cheeses providing both complement and contrast. Parmesan and a provolone were also available. The creamier ones were the best fit here.

More on what else we covered at the event tomorrow.

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We Men Enjoying Beer

Wednesday last found me with about 16 men – enjoying beer and food. It was a special night in the form of a educational and social event for the male staff at Standing Stone Brewing Company.

table set...ready to go

table set...ready to go

Why men? Why not. WEB is about education and opportunity.

It takes all parties to progress the conversation. Plus on the Home Free Tour last fall, we had held a women’s only tasting and pairing. So it was time.

We had the good fortune to have a few other guests join us – people who are related to SSBC in some way. Coffee supplier, bar manager at another local restaurant, and 3 regular patrons. Good mix.

The first two courses were as follows.

Course 1

Nitro Stout with Stir Crazy Chocolate Cake. We started off with a full flavorful match. The deep roasted malt in the stout is a most excellent pairing with Chocolate. The cake is made from scratch, like their whole menu always is as well as their beers, and it was a really nice consistency. Not too thick or light. Goldilocks would have approved. Juuuust right.

Starting with an unexpected pairing set a great tone.

Course 2

Lager with Fish Tacos. The light crispness of the lager went well with the lighter flavor of the fish, lightly sauteed with other simple fresh ingredients to complement it.

I picked the contrast of the stout to the tacos on purpose. To highlight the differences of the two styles of beer.

Course 3

India Pale Ale with the special Pork Chops. The forward hoppiness of the IPA was a good partner to the pork chops, local and organic. Nice bitterness – or bite as some servers like to describe it – and a medium flavor personality to pair with the chops.

Tomorrow – the other 3 courses….



Last Night, Sitting At The Bar…

…I noticed that all the patrons who had bellied up were women. How refreshing.

Why is that? Because these women were comfortable in their ‘third place’? They totally enjoy good beer? They like sitting at the bar?

p1040011There’s a lot of information that many women have shared with me in focus groups, casual conversation and online about sitting at a bar. This example was rich as it’s still atypical. No reason it needs to be.

So what can you do – as  a brewpub, taproom, or bar with a strong beer commitment – to authentically attract more females into the fray? To build up the only 25 – 30 percent of women (who are the majority of the entire human population)?

Encourage the women to sit at the bar, engage in intelligent entertaining conversation, invite them back.

Change is relatively easy to affect if you are active in pursuing it – not just saying “I wish…” and “someday…”

It made my night. Then I finished my double IPA and went home.

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Lazy Magnolia Packaging

Lazy Magnolia Packaging

Hats off to the 5th Anniversary of Lazy Magnolia, Mississippi’s only brewery.

If you followed the Home Free Tour log, you’ll remember that Leslie and Mark were gracious hosts to me, my Fine Husband and our two dogs on the trip. Affording us comfy accommodations and a tour of their facility in Kiln.

One clever aspect about their packaging is the wrap-around way the images  are formatted. In a discussion with Mark,  he explained why they were wrapped and I think it’s a savvy tact.

Makes sense if you’re fighting for shelf space and can help encourage a 2 6-pack wide shelf space.

So cheers! Here’s to 5 more…and 5 more…

Makes me thirsty for the Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale.

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"Just Talk"

It’s encouraging and usually productive when people call me to talk about WEB and how it may be helpful to their cause. New brewery starting, need ideas for the plan, how to market beer to women, and so forth.

p1030958So I just want to clarify something today.

It’s not ‘just talk’ that consultants such as myself offer. Answers someone asks for comes from real effort put forth to obtain that information. Talk is not cheap nor is it free just like brewing equipment isn’t cheap or free.

That talk comes from hours planning, soliciting, gathering, synthesizing, compiling, extrapolating, and in general interpreting information. It’s a big investment of time and professional effort.

It’s way more that just talk. It’s actionable information.

I received one such call along these lines just this week. So here’s a part of the follow up email I sent.

“WEB partners to innovatively garner market share of women (and men along the way) by authentically and accurately applying specific knowledge gathered from focus groups, events, etc. to your particular plans and goals based on solid information. That knowledge is what you pay for; it’s a product just as bright tanks are for holding beer.

Partnerships can involve a number of methods of applying and utilizing the information for direct benefit. It’s an investment of information and effort transferred into results. Generally, like any well developed marketing campaign it’s a mapped out plan, proving effective over time.”

I hope this is helpful. Call me when you want to turn effort into action. Thanks.

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Here’s a picture of one beer I find to be a favorite for me. It’s a framboise and delicious in very way.

p1030936No, I don’t drink it only because I’m female and gravitate towards fruity beers (sometimes no, sometimes yes as with any beer).  After all, the issue here at WEB is not gender. It’s opportunity.

I drink it because it’s beautiful, has a luxurious flavor and mouth feel, has a zing of effervescence, and pairs nicely with a great many foods. It’s also very drinkable all by its gorgeous self.

This glass in particular was served to me at a very recent stop, Willimantic Brewing, in Connecticut at David’s place. What a refreshing surprise to get it served in an appropriately well designed glass.

Refreshing because too many places still use the standard (and cheapest) and expected beer vessel around – the tapered pint. At 16 or 20 ounces, it’s not the right glass for some beers. It allows the carbonation to escape too quickly therefore not fully allowing the flavor of the beer to shine and it’s too big a portion for many, women and men. Especially when you want to try a few beers.

If you make beer, be proud of it and do it justice by serving it in a more appropriate glass.

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Beer And Dessert

Larry with 3 desserts and a few beers

Larry with 3 desserts and a few beers

So, we were at a Rehoboth, Delaware place this past week. Thought we’d drop by to enjoy some beers and eats.

And enjoy we did.

Chilly day, not a whole lot going on, random Sunday Funday.

To some this is a holy grail of sorts. the great thing is that everyone is just that. Everyone. Common folks making an uncommon (and off centered) difference in the beer landscape.

Laura, our very competent and fun server, didn’t even balk or smirk when we ordered 3 desserts. Heck! With a whole line up of beers to try, why only have one dessert. They were all different as were the beers. All the better to pair and taste, my dear.

Be sure to remember that beer and dessert pair very well together. Sometimes obviously so, sometimes subversively so.

The key is in the trying. Try, try again…

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Mmmmm…Beer Smells Good

p1030837One thing that many people who drink beer have yet to get into the habit of is smelling their beer. It’s one important part of the events I conduct with beer – to teach people to smell their beer. To drink with their noses first.

Most people are in the habit of smelling food, smelling wine, smelling the roses (although some are still missing this).

So why are you not inhaling the heady scents of your beer?

The information we take in through our noses is really important, chock full of memory and therefore thoughts. Smells tell us myriad things about what it is we are sniffing.

SO – pause and smell before drinking that next beer. THEN take a sip, swirl it all around your mouth, making sure it reaches all those taste buds in your tongue, roof of your mouth, cheeks, throat…

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number, numbers everywhere...

number, numbers everywhere...

Numbers and studies can be interpreted to mean exactly what you want them to.

That said…

Here’s an interesting study completed this summer by Gallup. I’d put more stock in this that the last study someone forwarded to me in a different magazine about beer drinking habits and beer drinkers.

While this study does not solely focus on beer, I believe it’s worth reading as it gives a rounded out picture on some fronts because it includes wine and liquor as well.

Read it for yourself and make your own decision.

This study was also interesting as it tackles what ‘moderate amount’ means. Worth considering and defining.

Education goes with beer quite well. Read up.

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Hmmm…not sure what to make of this.

p1020711On one hand, it’s most likely potentially helpful for the female market share who want help. And good for anyone who reaches out for help.

The other reaction is it’s tragic that it has to be a segment that is addressed differently.

I’m not being hypocritical. Women Enjoying Beer is about opportunity for a market share to be developed, incidentally gender as that market share. It could be any number of segments that have been underserved, ill served, or flat out not served, ignored, or neglected. It happens to be the 50.9% of the population that is female.

Think that last one is how I’m feeling about this site.

Jody DeVere, the CEO of the organization, tells us in her video clip that the role of women is changing. I would challenge that with the fact that women have always held a strong influential role – directly or indirectly – in making purchases, throughout the ages. (Just like in most of the non-westernized world, women are the brewers) So the recent ‘change’ is not necessarily so. What may be is that the female market share is being approached in a different way. Many businesses finally realizing that women can have an enormous impact on their bottom line. So they want a piece of that pie.

As many may know the car industry has long earned its way to the bottom of the list for dealing with female customers.

Let’s work together to make sure the beer community is at the top of the list.

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The Issue Is Not Gender

It’s opportunity. It’s beer equality.

If anyone thinks Women Enjoying Beer is sexist (like the comment from SirRon ala this post), I’d invite you to consider the following quote by Anna Quindlen.

“The perception was that the fight for equality was a war against men. But the battle was really against waste, the waste of talent, the waste to society, the waste of women who had certain gifts and goals and had to suppress both. The point was not to take over male terrain but to change it because it badly needed changing.”

Change is what we’re after here. Clear, sustainable, positive change.

Four Peaks Brewery in Tempe Arizona

Four Peaks Brewery in Tempe Arizona

After all, with 50.9% of the population being female, you’d be missing a the point of it being a huge opportunity.

Like an accomplished well respected brewer stated as well, if half the population is female and your organization does not reflect that, there’s an imbalance. Said another way, why would it be any other way but representative of the population?

Foster, encourage, educate, hire, entice, support, mentor, act.

Lots of women who talk to me tell me they are interested in getting into the beer business; they have no idea of how to go about it though. Why is that?

Women can certainly reach out more, ask more, inquire more.

And the beer community can do much more to find out why and change it to create a better gender balance. Another reason to consider actively pursuing this kind of goal is that the two genders have different and complementary skills. Round out a team by filling the ranks with adept and competent women and men.

In the bigger scheme of things, it helps society as a whole as well. And we all benefit from that, beer or no beer.

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Brewery Tools

What tools do you use in your beer business?

  • Are they all only actual items like wrenches, shovels, buckets, pipes and ingredients?
  • Do you include in those tools people, training, education, professional development, and evaluation?

p1030585If you do, you’re moving forward. If you don’t, you’re moving backwards, not just standing still.

No motion forward is like saying maybe…a maybe is a no. Staying ‘still’ is the same thing. You have to move to progress.

  1. Who is in charge of properly and professionally marketing your beers?
  2. Who’s in charge of the actual brew house?
  3. Who’s in charge of the number crunching?
  4. Who’s in charge of…well, I’ll assume you see the point.

Tools are not tools are not tools.

With proper implementation of tools, use and care of them, you’ll make forward motion – otherwise known as progress. If you don’t you’re only slipping backwards. Staying still will allow others to pass you by.

Let me know when I can help you move. Forward.

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Wise Man

Is this you?

Is this you?

David Edgar put a post on the BA Forum recently. It was pertaining to service and he referenced Women Enjoying Beer.

“The industry is 2/3 brewpubs and I know that if they can’t deliver on basic service, it doesn’t matter how amazing the beers are.  Good luck and keep up the good work.”

He gets it.

It’s about opportunity, dedication and really being in tune with what makes it all tick. It’s about starting right, not cutting any corners, paying attention.

Every business is in the customer business. With internal and external customers. I could name several breweries that really have it nailed. There are several that need to improve – everything from service to cleanliness to how they answer the phone to realizing that passion for beer simply is not a complete picture of running a sound operation.

And if you have the passion for the beer, then find others that have passion or at least enthusiasm and competency for numbers, for QAQC, for dealing with customers. For all the areas that are not the beer and are still essential to successful beer business.

Any less is an affront to your blessed beer.

Back to basics, folks.

And I will do my best to keep it up, David. Thanks.

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Beautiful Beer Deserves Beautiful Photos

A big hearty thanks to George for these incredible, lovely, delicious photos. Check them out here.

p1030147They’re from one of several educational employee sessions WEB partnered with at Standing Stone Brewing Company. Alex and Danielle run a good ship and realize that constancy to purpose with reinforcement and refreshment is critical to continued success and growth. Throw in happiness and satisfaction factor and you’ve got a no fail. What a great crew.

George, next time I’m in Ashland, beers on me – and bring that fabulous wife of yours too.

(I understand he plays a mean guitar as well….)

Good beer, good people good business, good music.

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Lambic Education

Me & Jacklyn at the Flying Saucer

Me & Jacklyn at the Flying Saucer

Here’s a good article on lambics.

As is the key for many things, education is key with beer – female or male, no matter what age or knowledge level.

Bring it on (the education) then bring on the beer.

Here’s another link out – good education, poor choice of name for the blog (‘girls’ are under 12 folks).

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