The following is an excerpt from an interview correspondence with Andrea Janes and Barley’s Angels Director Christine Jump 12/1/12.
AJ.- Why do you think it’s important for women to drink beer?
CJ.- It’s not. That’s the simple answer. However, it is important that when it comes to libations that women feel every bit as comfortable ordering a beer as they do anything else. It is important that beer be as accessible to women as it is the good-ole-boys that seem to dominate the beer scene in most places. For that to happen women need to become recognized as legitimate customers. Women will achieve that by exploring beer, finding what they like, and letting the beer marketer know what they want, and what they expect.
It is toward that end that Barley’s Angels strives to offer women a comfortable safe place to explore Craft Beer. Where women can experiment and ask questions without being teased or dismissed. Hence women, sharing craft beer with women. It is commonplace to find women professionals in the craft beer field presenting and even founding Barley’s Angels chapters. You will find certified Cicerones, brewers, and brewpub owners among the list of Barley’s Angels chapter founders.
AJ.- Why should it matter what women choose to drink or not to drink?
CJ.-I think it matters only in so much as women deserve the same access to any choice of libation that men have. The important distinction here is that women seem to want this. As is shown in the explosive growth of Barley’s Angels – a women only network dedicated to educating, exploring and sharing craft beer with women – that has grown over 50% in the last quarter, with 32 chapters* in 6 countries.
Women are constantly sharing stories about how bartenders dismiss them, or servers dissuade them, or even other patrons at establishments antagonize them when asking about or attempting to order beer.
It is exactly that experience that prompted Lorna Juett to found the Barley’s Angels Chicago chapter. And a clear demonstration of demand is that while she intended to offer 4 events a year, there has been such tremendous response that she has offered monthly tastings collaborating with Chefs, Chocolatiers, Bakers and brew pub.
AJ.- Why is this topic important now?
Perhaps it is because enough women have become interested in beer that we’re hearing from them. More women are talking about beer and sharing their discoveries and their frustrations. More beer journalists are women. More women working in the brewing industry and have formed a society of women professionals of the beer industry (Pink Boots Society).
The beer section in the stores has evolved, some as potentially overwhelming as the wine sections can be. We see craft beer on television featured on morning and news programs, Craft Beer is becoming an important ingredient among celebrity chefs in the foodie movement. I’m sure it all contributes to the up-tick in women’s interest in beer in general. If only the environment in the pubs, restaurants and beer stores were more supporting, welcoming and engaging. Which brings us full circle to women needing to be recognized as legitimate consumers, valued customers. . .equal customers.
The most interesting part of all this is that the making of beer is historically women’s work. (for more on that, see this excerpt of Lisa Morrison’s article published in Beer West magazine http://barleysangels.org/why.htm)
*Update: There are 111 chapters in seven countries as of 3/4/16