Recently, High Heel Brewing became a topic in craft beer circles due to their efforts to create a woman-targeted brewery.
The brewery is run by several women, which is definitely unique to craft beer. This is a positive aspect of the brewery, and I think that just about everyone would agree. Gender disparity is a negative aspect of most fields. However, the focus of their brewery has sparked a debate: is women-targeted craft beer necessary or patronizing?
On one side, there is the argument that women are a specific category of beer drinkers. This argues that the norm is considered to be (or just is) more masculine or targeted towards men. If women happen to like it, then that’s a bonus but not the intention. This argument is believable when considering the demographics of who makes up the craft beer industry. Outside of the realm of craft beer, beer ads have tended to feature mostly men with the women in ads being used as sex appeal rather than the intended audience.
On the other hand, however, implying that beer is just for men and women need something special is also problematic. The women who are craft beer drinkers have thus far managed to drink and enjoy the beer already in stores, bars, and at festivals. Beer, they argue, is not inherently gendered and thus attempts to make beer for women is patronizing and dumbing down beer in offensive ways.
Both sides have reasonable arguments. However, while women can use any product that men can use, there is some societal pressure to not perform masculinity. This can also just be a part of personal preference. Some women may just be more attracted to products in a niche that isn’t being filled. In this case, the niche would be beer themed around femininity.
I ultimately don’t think this beer is meant to be targeted at seasoned craft beer fans. Rather, I think the ultimate goal is to attract women who might otherwise be hesitant to try craft beer. Moreover, craft beer has for a long time had gimmicky names and art. In my opinion, it’s a fun tradition, and I don’t see this as being very different.
Personally, I was introduced to craft beer on my 21st birthday by receiving a bottle of Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate, Banana, and Peanut Butter Ale. I enjoyed it because it was sweet and easier than the IPAs and other craft beers I had tried up until that point. I suspect that part of, if not all of, the reasoning for me receiving this was the gimmick: the bottle was pink and the flavors were very sweet. Since then, I have expanded my craft beer selection a fair amount, but I also have a soft spot for the first beer I really enjoyed.
Ultimately, I have to side with High Heel Brewing. I’m not sure that making what may simply end up being introductory beers is going to be very sustainable, but I also don’t think there’s an inherent problem with it. Hopefully, if this beer does do well, it will help more people become interested in craft beer.
Featured image credits: High Heel Brewing/usatoday.com, twitter.com