Monday, 10 September 2012

"More women drinking beer" - Sainsbury's

Borrowed from Lipstick On The Rim 
In 2002, Gordon Brown introduced Progressive Beer Duty, which allowed smaller breweries to pay less tax on their products. While it is not without its critics, for instance that it creates a glass ceiling because brewers will stop expanding when they are just below the point at which the higher rate of tax is payable, it is generally credited with being a significant factor in the huge increase in the number of microbreweries. According to Sainsbury’s, it has led to another interesting and unforeseen effect, that more women are drinking beer because, with more breweries, there are more varieties that appeal to women.

Sainsbury’s beer buyer Nicky Millington said, ‘There has definitely been a rise in women trying beers as there are a whole load of new tastes such as espresso, mocha, lemon, ginger and honey which appeal to them more than the traditional brown ales.’ She added that there were also more women working in brewing.

I find this interesting, although she does seem to be suggesting that the way to get women drinking beer is via novelty ales. But if beer is not seen as a monoculture, if the perception is that there is a variety of different flavours to be had, that must be a good thing. Flavoured beers aren’t going to displace the more conventional ales that many of us usually drink. But even I enjoyed a pint of honey beer at the Ship Beer, Pie and Sausage Festival in Lathom last week.

One thought has just occurred to me that there seem to be fewer silly sexist names and pumpclips that in my view discourage some women from trying beer by strongly implying it’s a drink for the lads. It’s a fairly modern phenomenon that beer was treated as a male drink – I blame the 1960s, when women were supposed to drink silly, girly drinks like Pony and Babycham, or grudgingly be bought “just a half of lager”. So perhaps the artifical distinctions between male and female drinking tastes are diminishing, which is good for beer diversity. 

As for Progressive Beer Duty, it may not be perfect but by encouraging the brewing of a greater diversity of beers, the favourable effects far outweigh the undesirable. And this story is unusual in being a positive example of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

The full story is here.


  1. I think it is changing but most women I meet tend to like the stronger beers as they are sweeter. Having watched many a women go for stouts and usually groan at the dodgy comedy pump clip.

  2. The fact that quite a few women do like dark beers contradicts the received wisdom that pale, lightly-flavoured, citrus ales are the way to get women drinking beer.

  3. Strangely the b&b we are staying at has a copy of English Pubs by Michael Jackson and he mentions that lager is for foreigners or women, of course this book was published in the 70s.....

  4. I began drinking in the early 1970s, and I can remember lager being dismissed as "a woman's drink"; in fact, I have to confess that at that time I occasionally used that phrase myself.


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