The Campaign For Real Ale (Camra) has banned beers with sexist names or imagery at this year’s Great British Beer Festival – could this herald a long overdue shift in attitudes towards female beer-drinkers?
Leg Spreader. Dizzy Blonde. Village Bike. With names as sexist and outdated as these, it’s easy to see why women might be put off from attending beer festivals when the industry seems stuck in the dark ages.
Beer has long been marketed as a ‘man’s drink’ – despite the fact that brewing was historically a female pursuit. As far back as ancient Egypt, and throughout the Medieval era, women were the primary beer-makers – not men.
Like with many things, women were eventually edged out, and beer became a drink more commonly associated with men. Female beer-lovers and brewers have had to put up with patronising remarks and misogynistic branding for years but times are – finally – changing. The industry is waking up to the fact that women like beer. That we drink it. That we make it. And that we will not put up with derogatory marketing techniques.
So Stylist was pleased to learn that Camra (the Campaign For Real Ale) has banned beers with sexist names and images reminiscent of ‘saucy’ 1950s postcards at its flagship event, the Great British Beer Festival, which takes place in London this week.
Camra has vetted every single one of the more than 1,000 beers, ciders and perries on sale at the event to ensure they meet its new code of conduct, aimed at improving inclusivity and diversity. The organisation has also chosen LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall as its partner for this year’s event.
The move comes after a YouGov survey revealed that 68% of female drinkers would be put off buying a beer if it used sexist advertising. It’s hard to believe that in the wake of #MeToo and the backlash against brands using outdated tropes to sell their products that it has taken so long for the beer industry to sit up and take notice.
Abigail Newton, Camra’s national director, says, “It’s hard to understand why some brewers would actively choose to alienate the vast majority of their potential customers with material likely to only appeal to a tiny and shrinking percentage.”
“Beer is not a man’s drinks or a woman’s drink, it is a drink for everyone,” Newton continues. “There is a huge amount of work that needs to be done to overcome outdated stereotypes.”
Award-winning beer writer Melissa Cole voiced her approval on Twitter, saying, “Having sat out last year’s @gbbf due to instances of sexism & the beer being truly awful in 2017, yesterday was one hell of a turnaround in my experience. Banning discriminatory branding, staff wearing rainbow lanyards & good cask beer quality, well done @GBBFOrganiser.”
It’s thanks to women like Cole – women who are taking leading roles in the beer world and calling out sexism – that things are moving forward. Women like Jaega Wise, head brewer at Wild Card and a director of the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), and Sophie De Ronde of Burnt Mill Brewery, who launched the annual International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day (IWCBD) to promote the work of female brewers.
Similarly, female-focused groups such as Crafty Beer Girls, an online community for female beer-enthusiasts, festivals such as Fem.Ale and Women On Tap, and all-female breweries such as Mothership, are celebrating female brewers and creating a more inclusive atmosphere.
There may still be a long way to go to shift attitudes about women and beer, but to see Camra taking such a firm stance is encouraging. We can all say cheers to that.