Ever thought about who's behind the scenes of beer brewing? With it being the centenary year since women finally gained the vote we’re asking ourselves, is it still a man’s world? Well, we don’t think so! Beer has often been considered ‘a man’s drink’— its men that kick back with a nice cold beer after a hard days labour, whilst the women sit by and sip wine delicately in the corner. But it’s the twenty-first century and times are changing with just over 25% of the beer drinking population being made up of women. But have you ever considered who’s working behind the scenes, brewing the beers that you love so much?
Women have been active in brewing since ancient times; in many cultures, they appear as deities, goddesses and protectors of brewing. In Medieval England, women brewers known as ‘brewsters’, alongside alewives completely ran the ale trade. They provided not only to their husbands and other male relatives but to inns, public houses and businesses nationwide; making them true entrepreneurs.
However, in the last hundred years, the pub has been seen as a refuge for men to ‘get away from the wife’, with slogans such as ‘Saturday’s are for the boys’ becoming common tongue. We could say that industrialisation is to blame for the influx of sexism in beer brewing, the introduction of heavy machinery and bulkier operations dictated that brewing was for men and this pushed women off the bar stools and out into the cold.
In recent years the British beer brewing scene has dramatically changed, largely due to the arrival of microbreweries and their culture of quirky beers available across the UK. The return of local breweries has made it possible for women to once again move out of the kitchen and into the brewery, defying the typical stereotype that beer is for men. Check out some of the top female run UK breweries below and prepare to be inspired.
Monty’s brewery has had an exciting journey! It started out as a small, family-run startup and is now an established brewery exporting beer worldwide. In June 2008 owners Pam and Russ Honeyman were having a quiet pint when they pondered the question ‘shall we build a brewery?’ They’ve never looked back, Pam attended university and came back with what was to be an award-winning recipe! Their brewery is largely run by a dedicated team of female brewers— that’s pretty great for the world of women’s brewing.
Boss Brewery, Swansea
The name ‘Boss’ originates from the fact that there aren’t that many female brewers, even though brewing was originally dominatedby women. Owner Sara John created Boss Brewery with her partner Roy Alkin and she wanted to change opinion surrounding women in beer brewing. Their slogan ‘breaking the brewing boundaries #LIKEABOSS’ stands perfectly as a motto for diversity.
Stray Cat Brewing, Stone
Sarah Bradford has brewing in her blood as her parents own Lymestone Brewery in Stone. As a young twenty-three year old she wants to walk her own path by creating innovative new beers. She didn’t want to feel creatively restrained by the brews already existing at Lymestone so decided to go her own way. Sarah is an inspiration for female brewers and feels that her gender shouldn’t restrict her love for all things beer.
Wild Card Brewery, London
Head brewer at Wild Card, Jaega Wise is a strong campaigner for eradicating sexism within the brewing industry. She spoke at a Brewers Congress in London and urged organisations such as CAMRA to help change gender prejudice in beer brewing. Wise feels that there are three practical ways to improve the status of women in the beer industry in 2018, including; banning sexist beer labels, stricter advertising standards and a call for more information about female brewers.
So if you’re captivated by the women making a stand for gender equality in brewing, then why not try out some of their brews? Here, at Best of British Beer we’re huge advocates of women in brewing— so head to our website and land yourselves a bottle of revolutionary beer.