The Goat Rodeo

Life, Beers & Brewing in a secluded (and slightly off kilter) nook in Northern California

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

In a Differnt Light

I have been away for a while. I was overseas in Singapore setting up a breweries for the last 5 years (but if you are a regular reader - Hi Mom - then you already knew that). And after being away for a while I am, on my return, noticing things in our the industry that I had not expected to see.

I poured beer at the San Francisco Beer Week's Gala opening event last week. It was a fun time, with lots of great beers. I was struck by the shift in the demographic of the craft beer drinker. Unapologetically I will assert that thankfully gone are the days of craft beer events populated by 95% men - or to be more exact 95% middle aged overweight slightly balding geeky white men (and yes I am aware that I just pretty much described myself). After five years in Asia where the mix of men to women was about 60/40 and the racial mix diverse (to say the least) I had become accustom to .... well let us say - more engaging interactions at beer events. And so I was pleasantly surprised to see such a varied mix of people at the SF Beer Week Gala. Not only was he crowd about 40% women, people were (on average) younger than 5 years hence and not a small number of them were of extractions other than northern European. Now I realize that this was San Francisco and not the rural Northeast* so maybe this is not really a good representation of what's what out in the world but still- I have to say I was feeling good about what I was seeing.

Then, a few days later, I opened a beer magazine - and I quickly realized that maybe I had overestimated the changes that had taken place. This magazine is not representative of all beer magazines (not by any means), and I am not saying that there is not a place for almost everything in our world - but this particular mag seemed to have itself aimed squarely at a lot of those things that the beer industry has done so wrong for so long (think an ad with a women, bare legs spread wide, a carton of beer between them, and a tag line that reads "there's a party in my box" - I mean really this is as tricky as they could get for a full page ad ?). I won't bother to describe the articles, or the feebleminded cartoons. My point is not to rag on this particular rag.

My point is that we do not need to fall back on mindless worn out mega marketed beer clich├ęs. We cannot take our ques from the Mega-brewery's marketeers (those very companies that helped create American beer's pedestrian reputation). We have to be move inventive than that.

If we (as brewers) want to invite and make more appealing our craft beer offerings to women and minorities then we are gonna have to make the industry more inviting to them.

We are going to have to make ourselves not just less unsavory (think "a party in my box") but a little more captivating. Craft beer has a tremendous amount of different experiences to offer people; great flavors, unique ingredients, colorful characters, camaraderie, great stories, wonderful food pairings, fantastic festivals & events (just to name a few). These are things that appeal to a broad spectrum of people, men and women alike - and from all walks of life.

Putting aside the fact that making your product more appealing to another 70 plus percent of the population would seem to make good business sense - wouldn't it be nice to have more diversity at our beers events and at our local watering holes?

We have an opportunity to bring into our fold segments of the population that have traditionally been ignored by the beer industry - and because of that they have shied away from beer. We have an opportunity to position craft beer in a way that it appeals to a much broader spectrum of folks.

It is an opportunity we should not pass up.



*This: http://www.statemaster.com/graph/peo_sex_rat-people-sex-ratio