Coors UK, an international division of Molson Coors headquartered in the UK, has uncaged their market researching Neanderthals in an attempt to discover why UK women are put-off by beer. Project Eve, implemented to examine beer flavors, recipe formulation, package presentation, and marketing for the female segment of the UK population, launched in 2008 with the hope of infusing new life into lagging beer sales by early 2009.
The beer industry in the UK is at its lowest level since the Great Depression of 1919–22, a time when Britain was struggling to recover from the effects of WWI. Although sales of wine and spirits have increased in England, beer sales have been falling steadily in the UK for the past 30 years, while craft beer sales in the USA have been enjoying a dramatic increase. Coors finally woke up and discovered that women comprise slightly more than half of the UK population, but beer sales to women in the UK only amount to 12%. By comparison, beer sales to women in North America are 25%, and in many European countries the percentage of women beer drinkers is as high as 40%. Why the difference?
Coors UK and Project Eve are so immersed in gender prejudice they fail to recognize their lack of logic. They, no doubt, interview women to discover why they hate beer. Unfortunately, that is like asking a celibate nun to explain the nuances of good sex. Why have these researchers not bothered to examine the conditions under which women readily accept and celebrate beer?
My greatest objections arise from their results that indicate that women do not like beer’s bitter taste or perceived high calories. Coors’ quick-fix solution is to introduce lite beer with fruity flavors. Make me vomit, Coors! At a time when more women than ever are entering the halls of academia, Coors is still treating women like little girls in a candy shop. Have you not bothered to examine the gustatory habits of women at all?
Women particularly enjoy salads with bitter greens, vinaigrette salad dressings, bitter imported coffee and high-powered espresso, bittersweet chocolate, orange and lemon peel, and olives – all bitter segments of the flavor wheel. Most do not drink 16 ounces of any beverage at one sitting. They like the variety of international cuisine and delight in new foods that expand their palate. Cooking is so fascinating they will watch it on television…for hours. The popularity of Martha Stewart, even after she was incarcerated, then released, solidifies the fact that hospitality and presentation are important to women. These preferences are cultural entities, and must not be ignored if you truly want to have women join the global ranks of loyal beer drinkers. Women love to be educated and appreciate sophistication in drinking habits as much as men do. An educated palate is good.
The human animal, whether male or female, likes to belong to a group. There is great satisfaction in camaraderie – discovery, assistance, education, safety, friendship. In recent years, women in the USA have founded the (international) Pink Boots Society, focused on women brewers and beer professionals; the Women’s IPA Club of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Ales for Females in Longmont, Colorado. Sprecher Brewing presents Football & Beer Mini-Camps for women. The Beer Judge Certification Program readily encourages women to earn certification as judges. Cities such as Philadelphia and San Francisco have founded weeklong celebrations of “good craft beer” throughout their respective cities, inviting the general population to seminars, shows, and book signings where they can learn about different styles of beer.
Restaurateurs who are enjoying healthy patronage, even in a recessed economy, are those who present expansive beer lists in red, leather-bound binders. The elegance of such presentation equals the sophistication of any wine list. Better beer is served in wine glasses, snifters, or champagne flutes, out of respect for a woman’s level of consumption. It may even be served warm, in accordance with the brewer’s intent. Some restaurants and beer bars are requiring their staff to pass the Cicerone Beer Server Exam and progress to the level of Cicerone (the beer community’s equivalent to a Sommelier). Beer and Food Pairing Festivals, such as Savor in Washington DC and the Brewers’ Plate in Philadelphia are key to the education of women in the finer points of product pairings.
Recently, I was one of the attending members of a corporate dinner at a restaurant/beer bar in suburban Philadelphia. It did not take long for the regional VP to notice that my beer-drinking habits were different from the man sitting next to me. I had ordered a Dupont Avec Les Bons Voeux Saison, which was served to me in stemmed glassware. The head appeared lovely and long lasting, and this gentleman observed that, although my portion was smaller than a pint, I seemed to be savoring every sip. The man next to me had ordered a macro-lager, and had downed his drink in half the time it took me to drink mine. They could sell to the man in volume, but my imported beer was more expensive, more flavorful, and carefully selected to pair well with my shrimp. As dinner progressed to dessert, I ordered a Delirium Noel, a strong dark Christmas beer that would echo well with peaches and cream pie, chocolate lava cake, or triple chocolate.
Had I been eating hot wings, I would have enjoyed Russian River Pliny the Elder, an assertive, West Coast imperial IPA, well known for bitterness, but quenching to the heat of the food. In combination with steak, a Stone Arrogant Bastard would have been my choice. It seems Coors UK has ignored the concept of beer WITH food – a practice that has been going on since early modern humans discovered beer and bread ten thousand years ago.
The fact is: Women are not the shallow, mindless morons Coors UK thinks them to be.
I thought Neanderthals had disappeared from the earth…