For any woman over thirty, it may feel like a challenge to view beer as a sophisticated dinner choice. In the early days, these women were, after all, exposed to a landscape of nationally-produced bland beer. Advertising lowered beer to an everyday, watered-down beverage for the ballpark, or depicted women who hung around beer-drinking men as sleazy and “common.” Magazines articles even dared to label women beer drinkers as “easy,” while those who drank wine or martinis were labeled as “worth the chase.” It was no surprise that women shied away from beer. They needed some way to let men know they had class. White tablecloth restaurants weren’t stupid. They carried huge inventories of wine from the global arena, cooked with it, and featured it on TV shows. Beer was the red-headed stepchild.
Fortunately, the array of libations and comestibles has expanded as worldwide communication became the order of the day. We have become a more adventurous people. Growth of hand-crafted beer has not only become a phenomenon in the United States, but in countries from Spain to Italy, and Finland to France, Thailand, Australia, and Guam. We have grown to appreciate ethnicity, while embracing the local flavor of our own terroir. This is a new paradigm for those of us over thirty. For many, it takes courage to dine with wine-drinking peers, yet order that intriguing craft beer on the menu.
But it’s different for women under thirty. They never lived in a world without dozens of artisanal craft beers. These women are arising as a social force to be reckoned with, more aware of the opportunities that their mothers may have missed. They may scoff tradition. They live in a world where choices are infinite, and their choices include the rich landscape of craft beer. They know what IBU’s represent. They understand the ABV listed on a bottle and they know that beer color has little to do with beer strength. If they order a beer that they’re unsure of, they’ll pass it around the table for mass opinion, tweet about it, and give it a go on Facebook.
And they know that beer can make you phat; that is, highly attractive, primo, blue-chip, five star, frontline, or par excellence. Anyone who says, “I don’t like beer,” has closed her eyes to the thousands of possibilities that now exist. According to the Brewers Association, a Boulder, Colorado-based organization that represents small and independent American craft brewers and brewing enthusiasts, there were 1,927 breweries operating in the U.S. in 2011. In 1980, that number was only about 50.
Nearly 98% of those current breweries are small and independent craft breweries. Just as there is a world of difference among cuisine, there is a world of difference among beer. Oysters and lobsters both exist in a shell, but their flavors are totally different, as are the occasions that demand they be served. The same may be said of beer.
If you’re feeling particularly phat, seek out a beer flight with substance. The following Top 10 Beers are a must for anyone who wants to phatten her repertoire. Every one of these is a World-Class beer:
Sofie from Goose Island Brewing Company, Chicago, Illinois, USA: Saison/Farmhouse Ale, 6.5% ABV
Prickly Passion Saison of the Lips of Faith Series from New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA: Saison/Farmhouse Ale, 8.5% ABV
Bonfire of the Valkyries from New Albanian Brewing Company, New Albany, Indiana, USA: Rauchbier, 8.0% ABV
Black Tuesday from The Breuery, Placentia, California, USA: American Double Imperial Stout, 18.20% ABV – Be careful with this one!
21st Anniversary Fresh Hop Pale Ale from Boulevard Brewing Company, Kansas City, Missouri, USA: American Pale Ale, 7.4% ABV
The Sixth Glass Quad from Boulevard Brewing Company, Kansas City, Missouri, USA: Quadrupel, 10.5% ABV
Cuvee de Tomme 2011 from the Lost Abbey, San Marcos, California, USA: American Wild Ale, 11% ABV
Unibroue 17 Grande Réserve from Unibroue, Chambly, Quebec, Canada: Belgian Strong Dark Ale, 10% ABV
Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout from Founders Brewing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA: American Double Imperial Stout, 10.6% ABV
Café Royale from Williamsburg AleWerks, Williamsburg, Virginia, USA: Milk/Sweet Stout, 8.0% ABV
Of course, there are hundreds of others that would be worthy of a spot on this list. The true joy is in seeking them out, sharing them with friends, and enjoying the euphoria.
You'll want to be prepared in your adventures of beer. These may be just what you're seeking:
Spiegelau Beer Classics Beer Connoisseur Gift Set, Set of 4
Photos are (from top): Brewmaster Jerry Vietz of Unibroue signing a bottle of 17 Grande Reserve; Blue Dog Pub, Lansdale, PA and their "bottle-shop" of Italian beers