BBC15: Women in Beer

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I am a woman who likes beer.

From the Anheuser-Busch 3 p.m. Tasting during #BBC15

This has never been strange to me; in fact, women make up 32% of all craft beer purchases, according to Julia Herz of

As you know, I am one of four women who founded and executed the first-ever Harrisburg Beer Week this past spring. For us, our gender has had no impact on our ability to enjoy beer, and in fact, women are better tasters than men.

Herz, who kicked off the 2015 Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference last month, shared with us some great information about the state of the industry, including where women fall within the community.

Here are some of the things we learned from Herz:

  • When it comes to craft beer, flavor and freshness is most important. Even more important? LOCAL.
  • 62% of craft beer buyers are 35+ years old
  • Quality is defined by “good ingredients, consistent techniques and good manufacturing practices, creating consistent flavor that pleases both the brewer and drinker”
  • No surprise here: IPAs and Pales make up 30 percent of on-premise craft beer sales
  • Women make up 18% beer-related bloggers; 21% of craft beer owners/top level employee
  • Women are still a struggle for the beverage, and it’s time to up its game
  • Advice: “Work your plan, plan your work; be classy, do your research.”


The conference also featured Jessica Miller, who runs the photograph-heavy beer blog, Hey Brewtiful.



This sort of feels like burying the lead, but New Belgium founder Kim Jordan was the conference’s Keynote Speaker. Tierney and I were so excited to hear from her (New Belgium is finally coming to our area at the end of this month!), and she did not disappoint.

bbc15 kim jordan

I loved learning about her start in the brewing industry — and that she was at the time a social worker (so is my mom) — and she even shared some “from the archives” old photos of brewing in her basement at the company’s beginning. As she talked to us about starting New Belgium, she elicited a laugh from the crowd when she apologized, “I’ve been drinking beer pretty steadily for 24 years, so dates blur together.”

Eh, we didn’t care if it was one year or a different year. Jordan shared a lot of great information and credited the audience — largely bloggers and writers — for keeping the craft beer industry accountable.


Here are some of the highlights of her talk:

  • New Belgium’s Transatlantique Kriek, brewed Old Beersel of Belgium was the first American beer collaboration, and it set precedent with TTB (then called BATF). “It’s about taking leaps & innovation & trying new things,” Jordan said.
  • New Belgium’s social media strategy began as early as 2002, but said it’s not just telling stories about beer, it’s going to the left and right of it. “We want to be real with our beer drinking customers.”
  • That means to Jordan sharing — but not preaching — about her company’s core values.
    • New Belgium supports renewable energy and clean water bills.
    • Supports gay marriage; has provided domestic partnership benefits for 20 years.
    • Passionate about employee ownership: “We think that broadly-shared employee ownership is a valuable tool in narrowing the gap between the haves and the have-nots.”
  • On the craft beer industry, Jordan feels we’ve had two evolutions of change, and that we may see a bit of slowing. She said though some may characterize that badly, it’s natural change. The magic of this, she said, is the enthusiasm of beer drinkers and commitment to innovation will continue to support and cheer on a vibrant craft beer scene.
  • “Beer has a place in the archetypal tradition of storytelling,” Jordan said. People have stories about beer, it’s one of the oldest industries and a powerful platform on which to talk about things that matter to us.
    • The industry is generally supportive. Jordan believes much is subtle and pervasive where well-meaning men don’t realize what they’ve said.
    • The good: Jordan has been able to stand-out, she has a personality — lively and out-spoken
    • She has no regrets, and it’s been super fun, but notes that sometimes women are sitting there thinking “we just got shoved aside.”
  • On Community: We all collectively own the brand of craft beer and have a responsibility to make sure it’s maintained. Local and small is really compelling to people, and sometimes we could look boring or not innovative. Competition is good: Keeps us on our toes, promises customers and good experiences. “[You] meet up at the end of the day and drink beer with people you sell against, and talk about issues, collaborations etc.”


Other great stories about Women in Beer you may enjoy:

Deschutes Brewery Names Veronica Vega Brewmaster

Weighing in on Women and Beer

Sara Bozich
Author: Sara Bozich

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