Tag Archives: feminism

Aurosa & Why The Idea of “Beer Made For Women” Needs to Die

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Alright, guys, I don’t know why this has to be repeated over and over again, but it’s becoming clear that it bears repeating, so here we freakin’ go.

I, along with every other woman in the beer world, has heard about Aurosa, a “premium lifestyle” beer that describes itself as the “first beer for her” and, according to the web site, “is a representation of a woman’s strength and a girl’s tenderness. The two contrasting tempers, present in the female essence, are depicted through the elegant design yet the strong, unfiltered taste”.

It is a beer that describes itself as being made by women, for women, and “was born to prove that women can succeed anywhere without having to adapt and sacrifice their natural femininity. Women have been disregarded in the beer industry but owing to determination and faith in herself, Aurosa is set to redefine the perception of beer”.

“I created Aurosa #FORHER as a reminder that women shouldn’t forget that they can succeed in all aspects of life without having to adapt or sacrifice their natural tenderness and femininity.” founder Martina Smirova says in a press release.

So before we get into this, I’d like to touch on the emerging trend of “lifestyle brands” in the beer world that we’ve seen with brands like Ace Hill here in Canada and Barrels & Sons Brewing in America, that work pretty hard to cater towards the hip young beautiful people crowd by being heavy on marketing and instagram and putting their beers out in clubs and high dining places in cities all over. To be honest, I don’t find myself terribly offended by that idea because in the long game of independent beer versus big beer, that’s bringing a market that a lot of breweries don’t bother with over to the former. The promo might be a little cringeworthy, and the beer will definitely vary in quality (Ace Hill, I can attest, is pretty awful), but the fun thing is that we’re at a point where there is more than one demographic and that’s okay. And in a lot of ways that’s what Aurosa is.

But the problem with Aurosa is that they’re marketing towards women, which is a HUGE demographic made up of half the world. When you’re aiming for that large a target with a very specific arrow, you end up doing more harm than good. So here are a few points about making a beer specifically for women:

  1. Just like men don’t need their own brand of toilet paper or house cleaner, women don’t need a brand of beer specifically for them.
  2. aurosaWhen some jackass sees point one and decides to power on through anyways, in pretty much all cases the type of women they have in mind are a very specific subset. Usually white, thin, rich, and the type that identify deeply with Kendall Jenner’s instagram account. There is nothing wrong with this type of woman, but if you’re going to market to all women you have to acknowledge that we’re not all one type and that is why women don’t need a brand of beer specifically for them.
  3. Aurosa is not the first beer made for females and they won’t be the last, but the marketing and accompanying lifestyle articles always seems to have a rather patronising feminist bent as if to say “at long last! Women can now drink beer!”, which erases the experiences of all the fantastic women in the beer world who are brewing, talking about, and enjoying beer. And unfortunately, it’s the “finally we can enjoy this!” message that makes us all focus on the tired-ass discussion of “do women actually enjoy beer?” instead of taking a look at the more serious problems of sexist dynamics within the industry and the community and the dealings of horribly shitty and lazy sexist beer labels. In order to actually progress in that discussion, we need more solid inclusion, and that is why women don’t need a brand of beer specifically for them.
  4. What the hell is the female essence and why are you trying to bottle it? The dude who ran the failed Order of Yoni seemed to think it could be found in a model’s vaginal yeast, some think it’s an innate sensuality born into us, and Aurosa seems to go with a mix of tender, elegant, and strong. Ignoring the complete dumbness of the vaginal yeast one, the female essence is an intangible, flavourless idea that is largely defined by a patriarchal society. I know women whose “essence” is to binge watch Naruto and wear pizza-stained sweatpants. There is no one true definition for the female essence and trying to assign a gender to a sole idea is dumb and trying to assign one to the flavour profile of a beer is stupid as hell.

So in summary: Women don’t need a brand of beer specifically for them.

Oi, what a dumb thing.

Aurosa is using the hashtag #beerforher on twitter which has been taken over by women such as award-winning UK beer writer Melissa Cole (whose book The Little Book of Craft Beer is being released soon) telling folks just what kind of beer women actually like.

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Beer Blogging, Being a Woman In Beer, & Having Fun: What I Should Have Said At Queens of Craft

 

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A couple of weeks ago I was at a round table discussion in Guelph put on by Wellington Brewery called Queens of Craft, with proceeds of the event going to Women in Crisis Guelph. Basically it was a lot of Ontario’s most respected women in the beer industry and me talking about a subject of our choosing to an audience of women. It was a thrill to even be asked to be a part of it.
Unfortunately, I think I blew it a bit. At the last minute we were told that the 20 minutes we were each getting to talk would be cut down to 10, with a bell hitting the eight minute mark indicating that we better start wrapping up and talk about a beer we had selected for a tasting. I had things I wanted to talk about, but the cut time, the bell, my jet lag from a recent trip to England, and my inexperience with public speaking left me a bit of a rambling, nervous mess. I’m pretty sure I came off as a looney.

I was disappointed, because I had some things I wanted to say, but time constraints and social anxiety ruined it. So after sitting on it for a bit due to preparation of travel and the travel, here is what I wanted to say.

I started this site as a way to chronicle my own discoveries about beer in a way that my close friends could read up on if they wanted. I’m still a bit perplexed on how it got as far as it has and a bit weirded out by the whole Saveur Award thing. When I started I didn’t know what I was doing, my palate was not even close to what it is now, and I was regurgitating information that, I thought, was pretty common knowledge. But I was learning new things, chronicling my educational journey, and having fun, which I think are the best reasons ever to start a blog.

I’m reluctant to give advice on how to run a beer blog (or any blog, really) to a semi or even fully successful level. Despite what marketing books and other bloggers tell you, there is no One Right Way to run a blog. It’s a natural progression that involves getting comfortable with the medium and cultivating the voice you’re going to use for it. I will say though, that unlike published writers, you have the incredibly unique gift of being your own editor, with no restraints of word count or tone. Use that gift to weave fantastic tales, get lost in a tangent, or just explain something. You don’t HAVE to be any voice that you aren’t comfortable with doing. I’m best comfortable using a tone that’s both informative and entertaining. Like I’m saying it in a pub over my second beer, for instance. Look in earlier posts and you’ll see that I’ve come a long way in figuring that tone out.

Only other pieces of advice I can offer in terms of starting out are to learn to use twitter as a great method of networking, go out to events frequently so you can put a face to the twitter handles, learn to take pictures to go with your words, and do not be afraid to go against the popular opinions of the community. If you don’t like something that others like, no one is at fault and anyone who tells you otherwise is a jackass.

Ah. And the final piece of advice I could probably give is to remember that beer is only HALF the fun of it. It’s what surrounds the beer, the people, the history, the lore, the places, the events, the moments…that make it so amazing. If you remember that you’ll save yourself some premature burnout later and it will keep you going in times when you begin to question the point of continuing. Beer is fun, and should remain so.

Now, on being a woman.

Every female in the beer industry gets asked the same question to a nauseating degree on what it’s like being a woman working in beer and why we’re in it and I’m always left bewildered because the tone suggests a kind of “What are you even DOING here?” element that I find offensive. As if it’s so outlandish that women are individuals with their own minds and interests that should take them anywhere they damn well please, including something that’s apparently regarded as a boy’s club despite there being no sign on the door that says any such thing.

brewstersPlus, history is filled with women in beer. Before men took the reigns of beer through Industrialization, we had commercial female brewers (named Brewsters) in the middle ages, and brewing was primarily women’s work, being part of kitchen duties. Hell, the oldest recipe in the world is a Hymn to Ninkasi, the Sumerian GODDESS of Beer. While I feel that beer is something enjoyed by both sexes and I hate having to list the historical tidbits of women in beer as if to provide some sort of proof that women belong there (argh), I do like keeping this history in mind when certain people criticize women for enjoying or being a part of beer. Of course we do.

Modern day, I’m going to freely admit that there are problems, but it’s not as prevalent as one might think. There are offensive jokes, jerks who say jerkish things, and an outsider media that needs to run a “WOAH! WOMEN ENJOYING SOMETHING!” article every six months or so, but there are also engaging conversations, nerding out over a drink with complete strangers who end up becoming friends, and being part of a community that loves to educate and share its passion, which transcends genders and is the reason why I love the community so much.

Beer is a beautiful thing. As I said in an interview once, Beer has been the beverage of choice for royalty, slaves, peasants, gods, hard workers, executives, low class, middle class, upper class, and many other groups I can’t think of right now. It has helped end disputes (as well as cause some), has been a peace offering, and a way to break the ice to start lasting friendships. To me beer is a common factor for us all, a drink that humanity can sit down together and laugh over. To top all that off, despite all the years it’s been around, we’re still finding ways to make it differently.

Beer, one of the many testaments to the human race’s ingenuity, makes me want to raise a glass, view the beautiful colour of my beer, smile, and say “look at you”.

And that’s what I wanted to say.

8b19903u

 

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