Making Beer Education Happen

What would have to happen and what would have to be true to make education happen?

In the case of women + beer: simple opportunity.

Ginger & Roger, founder of Prud'homme, in Toronto

Ginger & Roger, founder of Prud’homme, in Toronto

Opportunity and education combine to form a powerful purpose and progress. When you combine them they will generate positive synergy and get more women into beer. Here’s how.

  1. Women and men all enjoy flavor. Educate about flavor first, not style or brand or anything else. Flavor is where it starts.
  2. Create and provide opportunities for women to learn about beer. Single gender events, when done correctly , are incredibly successful. For females this means no pink, girl/gal/babe/ladies/chicks. For men this means no macho crap, sports themes or tools.
  3. People want and seek out educational opportunities. Make them happen. Whether you give tours for 30 minutes or 4 hour classes, education feeds the hungry mind.

Beer education has been heightened by various programs. With a nod to Cicerone and Prud’homme, these visionaries behind the value and progress education generates have bred a whole new batch of businesses bringing high quality opportunity to the masses. This is a good thing, as Martha would say.

Education. Opportunity. Two things that will move us forward. Like I say, love and money comes and goes – education lasts forever.

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What’s Important To You?

What’s important to you for your beer experience?

Is it the flavor? The freshness? The brewer? The ingredients? The packaging? The glass it’s served in? The idea behind it? The tradition? The friends you want to enjoy it with? The food it’ll go with? The perception of the brand? The label? Where you get it? How you get it? What it costs? How often you enjoy it? what memories it conjures up?

With a nod to Dr. Lewis, I’d ask: What’s desperately important to you?

Cheers to that ~

Cheers to that ~

What is it that really matters when you are engaged with beer? How do those elements factor into your priorities?

To me, it’s all about cleanliness, diplomacy and education.

Cleanliness. Any brewer worth her salt will dedicate herself to a clean brew house. Cleanliness and sanitation is what shows the commitment forward. Just as a proud cook should cook in a clean kitchen, an accomplished brewer must keep a clean brew house. No exceptions.

Diplomacy. It’s one of the most important facets of the people part of the beer. Diplomacy goes so much farther than snobbery and judgement. Being diplomatic means welcoming anyone who wants to drink whatever beer they choose. It means sharing, asking, listening, learning and being open-minded yourself first. No exceptions.

Education. It’s what makes the entire world go round. Love and money can be made and lost, education is here forever. Learning, sharing, listening, and giving information to others while wanting to keep educating your own self is critically important. No exceptions.

Take some time to consider what is desperately important to you and then follow that vision. When you do, you’ll be happier and true to your self. The key is remaining open to others and their vision, as we’ll all have our own way to execute what we see.

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Wolfgang Burkhart Is Right

In one of his recent editorials in the Institute of Brewing and Distilling magazine, the topic was Training and Qualifications: Always A Good Investment.

“In the area of technical jobs, Germany’s dual system of training has proved very effective. During their three-year apprenticeship with a company young people also attend a vocational school where they can learn the necessary theoretical framework.

P1100207In the existing system, technical colleges, which provide practical and application-oriented training, and the more academic universities complement each other excellently in theory and practice.”

Partnering the two – practical and academic – is critical for success. You’ll never learn everything you need to know to get by in the actual world by learning only in a formal class room or similar setting. And we’ll never get the necessary academic side of life if we never darken learning situations, whatever they may look like today. The real world is just that: real. And needs to be touched, smelt, felt, dealt with and learned in.

“Naturally a lot of investment is called for when developing and expanding a comprehensive and socially open educational system like this but what better way for modern, forward-looking societies to invest their resources than in educating the next generation.”

Prost to that.

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What Do Statistics Not Say?

Statistics make me nervous. Let me restate that: people who choose to lean heavily on stats are the ones who make me nervous. The businesses that collect them also make me raise an eyebrow insofar as how clients may interpret them, without the full benefit of the equally important balance of the qualitative input that fleshes out the quantitative.

I’ve got colleagues and friends in the statistics and quantitative side of beer, and I know them to be sincere professionals, doing things “right.”

So when I see articles like “The American Craft Beer Drinker” in a trade publication, I go right for the astericks and italicized fine print. Case in print per the aformentioned article, the italics state: “Persons contacted were asked: ‘Have you had a microbrew in the past 30 days?’ “

My main concern is this: Did these 210,000 adults questioned have a base line definition on what those surveyed call a ‘craft’ beer? I’m leery because the very definition of a ‘microbrew’ is not the only kind of craft beer as defined by the popularly adopted definition put forth. If you follow industry vernacular, ‘craft’ and ‘microbrew’ are not the same thing, categorically speaking.

In fact, a VP from the company that compiled the survey is quoted as stating: “Microbrews, or craft beer, are a …” Someone from the research company looks to be misinformed about what the core of the survey is in fact trying to get at. T’would make me skeptical to give full bearing to their information if I were a client, unless she was misquoted (which is also possible).

I know from our qualitative research that ‘craft’ and ‘microbrew’ are widely misused and misunderstood. It’s great to use terms – just know what they truly mean and therefore how to apply them. It’s seriously important – if you’re gathering knowledge and insight that people will in fact act on – that you are accurate in the information you gather, ensuring that a common foundation properly starts things off.

“A brewpub may also be known as a microbrewery if production has a significant distribution beyond the premises – the American Brewers Association [currently the Brewers Association] use a fixed 75% of production to determine if a company is a microbrewery.” Wikipedia

There may be delineations. Yet why do we want to fragment beer when talking with consumers? Why is one crafted beer different from another? Did the 210K people have this definition given to them, were these people vetted to make sure they understood the question, and what’s missing from their answer?

What's missing in your beer research information?

So many people categorize all beers, sans ABI/MillerCoors, as ‘microbrews.’ Beyond driving me nuts, the inaccuracy and snobbery that sometimes accompanies the use of the term is not helpful for anyone. “I only drink craft beers.” What does that mean and what is the person trying to say about themselves? To me it smacks of closemindedness. It’s a reversal of embracing the idea there’s a beer for everyone, no matter who they are and what they choose to drink. If it’s all beer, what does it truly matter?

There’s obviously a lot more education that needs to be done. You can’t get accurate information unless there are basic and clear understandings in place to begin with. Make sure that – when you ask questions, the words are understood and meaningful before responses come in.

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Marketing Beer to Women, Part 1: Three Universal Truths

Three Universal Truths with women and their relationship with beer:

1. Education. Women want to learn about beer. Beer Education can be obvious like developing an ongoing “Beer 101”, “Get to know your beer”, or “Beer Basics” for women only. Holding women’s only classes are a smart choice since many women feel much more comfortable learning among the same sex. It’s true that same gender groups do in fact learn differently and sometimes better because there is no sexual tension of any sort. And even though many women and men say they are still going to totally be themselves in mixed groups, it’s highly unlikely that they will in fact be as freely participative than if they were in single gender groups. Like it or not, mixed gender groups create a totally different dynamic than single gender only groups. Frame it like any other affinity group: invite only those who are high likelihood targets and leave the others alone.

photo courtesy Kate Parks

2. Social. Beer is a social libation and women want an element of social interaction in relation to beer. Some women like to sit back and observe or be a more quietly engaged participant. Some women like to be in the center of the action. Either way and everywhere in between those two ends of the spectrum, know that a social component is important in engaging women in their learning and enjoyment of beer.

3. Value. Women want a solid value, be it spending $20+ on a dinner table bottle of special beer or two bucks for a PBR. Value ultimately lies in the experiential circumstances and context of the occasion, however formal or casual. Value is also one of the strong memory ties that bind and encourages either a repeat or “don’t do this again” experience for the consumer and the brand or style. When women have had a good time with a beer, they will for sure remember it and not only recommend it – they’ll want to duplicate the experience and share it with others.

Know these Three Universal Truths for Women + Beer to now be self evident.

Tomorrow – Part 2: Know Your Market



CAMFA Series #1: Color

CAMFA is a program Women Enjoying Beer created and developed to help teach internal (within your company) and external (consumers) customers about beer. Educated beer sellers, servers and tenders as well as educated consumers are a boon to us all.

Today is the first of 5 in this series to dig a bit deeper on why CAMFA is important, can make a big difference in the knowledge base of your internal and external clients and therefore support and grow business.

CAMFA C = Color

When people think about color of beer, hopefully it’s more of the ‘colors’ of beer – plural. Beer color comes from the ingredients and primarily from the grain used in the process. Of course the other ingredients can play a part as well, albeit much more nominally.

When WEB hosts events, speaks, and educates, we encourage people to not be a beer racist. That is – to not judge your beer by its color. That’d be just as bad as any other color racism.

Color can give us some ideas of what MIGHT be in the glass, what flavor/s we MAY encounter and enjoy, or be indicators of other characteristics of the beer experience we’re going to engage in.

That said, color is only color. Color is not necessarily flavor or body or mouthfeel or alcohol content or aroma. WEB feels it’s very important to make sure people don’t always equate certain colors of a beer with anticipated or expected flavors and so forth.

Would you agree that someone asking for a ‘dark beer’ may or may not really understand what they want? Are they making the assumption that all dark colored beers are robust, high in alcohol or otherwise all lumpable into the same narrow definition? That’d be incorrect, shortsighted and opportunity missed.

Don't judge your beer by the color

The same goes for ‘light beer’. One thing about using the word ‘light’ in beer descriptions is that there is a misnomer that light beer is only light color and light flavor hand in hand. Once again, implementing beer racism of any sort, dark to light and back again, is something the beer community needs to continue to work to change.

With all the chatter and discourse, writing and blogging that swirls around craft/beer these days, to pigeon hole any kind of beer because of its color is doing yourself, your tastebuds and of course the beer a disservice.

What a great idea it’d be if we all drank our fresh, high quality beer – no matter what it was – from opaque vessels or were blind when we partook? Then we wouldn’t have any beer racism.

For now, be sure to educate on what color of beer means, how it got there and how diverse your beer can be no matter what color it is (in relation to other aspects of the beer experience).

Tomorrow: CAMFA Series #2: Aroma

Recommended Resource: Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines



It's "Women" & "Female", Not "Ladies"

One immediately recognizable constant in the work I do is that women tell me they do not like being called Ladies. It’s old fashioned (in a not so good

What not to do

What not to do

way), fuddy-duddy, feels like a cheezy bar is advertising to get men who’ll troll if they host a “ladies night”.

So don’t do it.

Use Women and/or Females. Not girls (underage, under 12, infantile, condescending), not broads (harsh, cheap), not babes (do I even have to say why??).

Women, Females is accurate – appropriate age connoted, respectful, universal, not insulting to anyone.

Simply relate it to the important females in your life – whether you’re a female or a male. Would you treat them with disrespect? If the answer is no, then turn it about when you advertise and market.

This is really important – pay attention.

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Follow Up From Yesterday

One more thing from yesterday’s idea stream…

When you train staff, employees, associates, distributors, whoever – make sure you compare in a reasonable way.

Example: do you compare a lager your have on tap that less people may be familiar with with Budweiser? If it’s accurate, fine. If is not, not fine.

Let me ask you this on that note – would you compare your ground beef burger to McDonald’s?

Bad and inaccurate comparisons are damaging all around.

Message: Make sure comparisons are accurate. Better yet – learn and teach how to describe each beer at it stands on its own. Describe flavors, foods it goes well with and the why.

VOILA!! Give your beers the respect they deserve. Give your customers good education by properly educating your staff first.

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Here’s a good post by Amy. She’s right on on several points. One of my favorite excerpts:

Educate your staff about beer. I don’t care if they all hate beer; if you have it on tap, your staff should know what it is. They should be able to describe a Kölsch and how Schlafly’s compares to Reissdorf’s. That goes for your wine selection as well. There’s no reason I should hear “ummm… let me go ask” when I ask about a new beer on tap and what it is. Sell me your products!!”

p1020395Education is one of the easiest, most efficient, highest return aspects to your business you can do well. Research tells me this over and over and over…

What are you waiting for?

5 minutes, 2 minutes, 2 hours. Start where you can (although this should have been part of your basic business plan) and get to it. You will reap rewards – happier more competent staff selling more beers to happier more educated customers spending more money on your beer more often. Brew. Repeat.

Well done Amy – I’ll buy the first pint when I get to town.

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IPA Education

Jody & I enjoying a good beer in Montana

Jody & I enjoying a good beer in Montana

This post covers the story of IPA well – India Pale Ale. It’s a great fun educational opportunity – which women have told me, indirectly and directly over and over and over is important in purchasing habits and developing buying patterns.

When you educate, you create knowledge, you create buy in and buy of (your beers).

Host an IPA event – no “ladies night” though – that’s a no no. Please – women or females.

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This I Know To Be True

Education leads to Awareness.

Awareness leads to Change.

So – how important is education to you? To your business model? To your future success and survival?

Are you aware? When’s the last time you brought someone in to rally the troops, really provide some good information, refresh, reinforce? Someone to raise awareness, educate, incite change?

Now’s the time.

the p.s. here is ‘what are you waiting for??’

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A big part of why I’m here is the Education component that is sorely lacking in the USA for beer.

Let me expound.

Since when did beer become ‘bad’? In the pre prohibition days, beer was part of everyday, acceptable, respectable life. Seriously.

In Maureen Ogle’s article in the latest issue of The New Brewer magazine, she hits it straight on – and accurately so.

…elsewhere programs designed to teach children to demonize, rather than respect, alcohol.”

Alcohol – and beer – is not the devil nor the culprit. Parents need to step up, adults need to step up – teaching is key (not in th schools – they have enough to tackle). Therein lies part of the educational component that is sorely lacking.

When we teach responsibility and respect in our homes and other civic platforms, we all benefit and I daresay, negative effects would drop dramatically from ALL alcohol.

I can tell you that my sister and I were taught to drink at home. We were given the opportunity to try, if we wanted, to know what it was – that it wasn’t taboo. That went for all-illegal-under-18/21-substances. Since it was demystified at home, well, the desire to use in excess was virtually non existent for us. I say it paid off well. Thanks Mom & Dad.

So…education is a big part of what will be covered here. Ideas on how to, when to, where to, and why.

Knowledge is power – and responsibility comes from knowledge impartially and factually proffered.

Would society feel comfortable letting new drivers, regardless of age, drive a car without having first taken the drivers training course??

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