Just before Christmas I heard a female radio announcer commenting on what women drink as far as alcohol-based beverages are concerned. She generalised that women drink wine and men drink beer. She used the example of how often her husband would choose wine over beer; only on celebratory occasions and even then he’d prefer a beer.
I felt like phoning her and pointing out that women can, and do, drink beer. The trouble is a woman with a bottle of beer in her hand can look seriously unflattering, but the liquid stuff in the bottle, once presented in a glass, deserves credit as a great refreshing drop to be had by men, and women, alike.
I have to admit that until recently my selection of beer preferences was limited to the likes of Stella Artois, Steinlager, Carona and a few light lagers but then I discovered Monteith’s Summer Ale and now I go into panic mode at the idea that the ‘season’ (it’s only available in summer) of Summer Ale is drawing to a close. Then I eagerly await its arrival at the start of the next summer.
In the meantime, I’ve had the chance to experiment a bit with other beers and can now add Mac’s Spring Tide, Monteith’s Single Source, and Boundary Road’s Grizzly Beer and The Chosen One to my selection. I also sipped a rather delicious drop at The Depot, Al Brown’s Auckland restaurant but unfortunately due to the lack of a ‘beer’ selection menu I can’t tell you what it was.
There are two points I’d like to make with this article. One, that women do drink beer if it is presented well and we stop pushing the stereotype; and two, that we need beer selection menus in restaurants so that we can choose beer by its style and reputation just as we do wine. New Zealanders make great beer and it’s time we let consumers know about it and give them the choice to drink it.
On my first point, I realise that women will make a choice about what they drink based on a certain amount of trend. We saw in women’s wine choice the rise and then downturn in chardonnay; sauvignon blanc is still riding the crest of a wave, if ever-so-gently being nudged by pinot gris. Go to any function and you’ll be served either sauvignon blanc or a light sparkling wine such as Lindauer. Of course if you are a guy, you may well be offered a beer.
But beer is coming of age and we produce some really good mainstream beers as well as many excellent craft beers. Changes to production techniques mean the beer that I remember as being bitter is often now more varied in flavour and some, like Summer Ale, even have a subtle sweetness to them which gives them great appeal to women. In saying that, I haven’t noticed a guy complain about the sweetness either.
The lower alcohol percentage in beer is certainly something that shouldn’t be overlooked either. Usually beer has a four to seven percent alcohol level as opposed to an average 14 percent for wine. That means I can have a glass of beer with my meal without being seriously concerned about drinking during a lunch hour, for instance, or I can relax over a beer at the end of a hot day without it going immediately to my head.
What I’d really like to see though is restaurants realising there are some great bonuses to having a beer menu selection, preferably with a small description of each beer and even some beer and food matching suggestions, so that people will make their choice based on that information just as we do now with wine.
In my experience few restaurants offer a beer menu; the front of house person serving your table may name a few brands when asked but more often than not the diner has to ask and then settle from a choice of two or three well-known brands. Imagine being able to order from a range of craft beers from around New Zealand or a selection of the finest regionally brewed and even be recommended which beer works well with which dish. Now I’d certainly drink to that!
– Cynthia Daly