I became interested in craft beer when I felt too old for the collegiate Keystone staple. Familiar with bigger brands, like Blue Moon and Shock Top, I wasn’t keen on expanding my taste buds to anything without sliced oranges as a garnish, but then I tried a different flavor of the latter brand, Twisted Pretzel Wheat.
It wasn’t until this brew that I even considered beer to taste good, but the sweet and salty combo was too scrumptious to keep to myself. I bought a six pack from the grocery store to bring to a party my dad was hosting the next weekend. He asked me what goodies I brought and the sight of this foreign, not Labatt Blue sparked his interest. He readily untwisted the bottle and was surprised by the same thing I was: it tasted so fantastic. As the weeks went on, Twisted Pretzel Wheat occupied the third shelf in our fridges.
Dad and I expanded our palates shortly after our belated epiphany that craft beer was considerably better than macro. We frequented the neighborhood bar near Rochester Institute of Technology, MacGregor’s Grill and Tap Room, because it was the only establishment we knew offered more than the usual ten taps.
The first flight we ordered consisted of six porters. Ballsy, we know, but we made the right choice. I was eager to try anything I could and dad was along for the ride. At first, everything was heavy and the warmth I felt on the beer’s way down was uncanny. Dad was unfettered by this feeling—the man takes shots without even a wince—and enjoyed how dense the beers were. We almost didn’t eat dinner that night we were so full, but then came dessert.
Genesee’s, Salted Caramel Porter, based out of Rochester, NY was the last tasting to try. The sweet, pungency of its aroma was almost distracting, like five vanilla candles burning in a closet. The foam at the top of the glass was large—I describe the head this way because we didn’t know what the head of a beer was back then—and it was my favorite part. “It tastes like a milk shake,” dad said, and we each ordered another pint. The rest, is history.
My dad, John Clark, and I have indulged in craft beer for two years now. Still new to the craft game, we’re slowly engaging with sours and IPA’s, although, like father like daughter, we taste Citradelics with embitterment. Our goal isn’t just to discover the world’s finest crafts. My dad and I don’t look at a beer as another taste, rather as another conversation for both of us to share. Through the art of beer, my dad and I found an unconventional outlet for us to bond over and hope to encourage others to do the same.
For me, my involvement with craft beer stemmed from an eagerness to try and a mindset that beer was something to enjoy and not a culture. After digging deeper, brew culture is well-established and separations we see in any art form still hold true in this industry: it’s dominated by men. From brewing to consuming, men are still the stake holders in micro beer, but as the years go on, we’re seeing a transition.
An article posted by the Brewers Association’s Julia Hertz in August of 2016 summarizes data discussed at the annual Craft Brewers Conference about the demographics of craft beer drinkers. At last year’s conference in Philadelphia, Mike Kallenberger (Troposbrand.com) and Lindsay Kunkle (The Futures Company) presented data from a survey of 10,000+ respondents, inquiring their attitudes, values and priorities of U.S. consumers.
According to the survey, a little over half of the respondents were female and the rest were male. Out of 5000+ women, 25 percent said they drink craft beer on a weekly basis. Compared to data for males, men are three times more likely to drink craft beer (a whopping 75 percent of men who took the survey said they were weekly craft beer drinkers). Kallenberger attempted to ease this stark under-representation between genders and pointed out that women who are weekly beer drinkers choose craft just as likely as men.
Beer still seems like somewhat of a boys club, both in supply and consuming sectors. That is according to the numbers, but the quality of product can be denoted to women. Big names such as Kim Jordan, co-founder of New Belgium Brewing or Julia Astrid Davis, who was involved with the founding of Lagunitas Brewing Co., are credible examples proving that women in the craft beer world are creating great brews and solid brands, which we see in almost every bar today.
Beyond brewing, women are also involved with start up establishments in other parts of the industry, such as Kristy Miner, sales executive for Rhino Beverage Distributing in Rochester, NY. We see the successes of women-owned businesses as well as newly crafted breweries, and it we shouldn’t attribute it to their gender, rather their love of craft beer.
In my experience, drinking beer isn’t limited to cans stored in the garage for dad or hipster establishments filled with guys wearing beanies and punny t-shirts. Like the ever growing spike in craft beer consumption, more women will tap this trend and do a great job at it.
Craft beer was the spark that brought my dad and I even closer together. Sure, our personalities match up in comparison to Curly and Moe and he taught me how to properly throw a spiral football, but it wasn’t because I was reminiscent of the little boy he never had. We bonded over these activities as two loved ones and it didn’t matter what we were doing, as long as we were together. Nowadays, that bond is over beer.