Five Things We Learned From Our Women In Beer Event at The Pembury Tavern
To celebrate the launch of Straight Up Pale Ale, our International Women’s Day collaboration, we hosted a panel of talented women who work in the beer industry at our pub, The Pembury Tavern.
Sophie de Ronde, Head Brewer at Burnt Mill Brewery
Natalya Watson, Marketing Manager at Duvel and founder of her Beer with Nat podcast series.
Rachel Sutherland, Assistant Professor in Brewing at Heriot-Watt University
Britney Beeby, Creative Director at Honest Brew
Charlotte Owen, Head of Customer Experience at Honest Brew
#1 Beer Is A Conversation Starter All Over The World
Natalya Watson told us how she used beer as a way of getting to know New York city. “I went to every bar, brewery and corner shop,” she said. “Everyone in beer can have a conversation with you.”
This sense of community in the beer industry is something our panellists discussed a number of times. In different countries all over the world, the same kinds of conversations are happening, often over the bar and with a pint in hand. In England, Sophie de Ronde told us how she fell in love with beer while working at a the pub, inspiring her to want to learn more about the product and how to make it.
For Charlotte Owens, it was drinking beer in Liverpool while at University which got her into beer. “I loved how it really brought so many different types of people together, ” she explained.
#2 The Beer Industry Is A Welcoming Place for Women
It was great to hear our panellists’ agreement that they felt supported by the beer industry, and that gender hadn’t been an obstacle for their careers in beer. Everyone working in craft beer, from brewers to sales representatives, to delivery drivers, social media managers and events teams, can do their part to ensure that we are striving for equal footing for all that are interested in beer.
However, as Rachel Sutherland pointed out, there’s still improvement to be made in the number of women working in beer. “When I graduated, only two of the 12 people on my course were women,” she said.
Encouraging more women into the industry is something that Natalya has focused on in her podcast series. “We need to show people what their options are, and what they look like. You can wear a dress and drink a beer, that’s a thing!”
#3 We Need More Women On Panels Discussing Their Expertise, Not Just Their Gender
Events showcasing women in beer are important to encourage more women to work in beer. As Charlotte Owens pointed out, “It’s hard to be something you can’t see already.”
According to Rachel Sutherland, “Often when I tell people that I work in brewing, I get the response ‘Oh, I didn’t know that women did that’” But, as Britney Beeby explained, “There are so many women behind the scenes. Often, we don’t get invited to talk at events like this”
A key marker for the progress of women in beer will be when we see more representation of women on beer panels discussing their areas of knowledge and skills. As bastions of beer knowledge, not just as female brewing advocates.
#4 Beer Isn’t As ‘Unhealthy’ For You As You Might Think…
“Actually,” explained Natalya, “most of the calories come from the alcohol itself. Not the drink.”
Stereotypes exist that beer is especially bad for you, especially in terms of its calorie content. Commentary tells us that beer is full of calories and will give you a ‘beer belly’…
In fact, according to studies by Charlie Bamforth of the University of California, beer is in fact a great deal more nutritious than other alcoholic drinks. Beer, he says, has more selenium, B vitamins, phosphorus, folate and niacin than wine, and significantly more protein and some fiber, too. Research has showed that beer could contain prebiotics – nourishment for the good bacteria in our gut – as well as antioxidants. Good news, right?
#5 Beer Is Beer, But As Diverse As The People Who Drink It
One of our favourite points of the evening came succinctly and simply from Rachel Sutherland.“Beer is beer,” she said, “Make good beer, and enjoy it.”
Each of our panellists identified different beer styles that they’d like to see more of in the future. And that’s just it, isn’t it? Our tastes in beer can be as diverse and varied as the foods we like, the friends we make and the places live in. It’s as diverse as we are. Because beer isn’t one style or one flavour, just like the people who work in beer aren’t all one type, demographic or gender.
Cheers to that!