I remember when I started getting into metal music at university me and my metaller friends would hang out listening to heavy metal, Thrash and Death metal mostly. Often we would have a moan about how the metal bars and clubs played music mostly for teens into more pop influenced metal termed 'nu metel'. We felt it unjust that these bands could play songs of just a few chords, sell out and get more famous than the immense musical talents of some of our favourite bands such as Dream Theatre and Judas Priest. But as much as we hated the music we remembered that most hard core metal heads we knew grew up listening to this kind of 'nu metal'. It's all part of a progression similar to how Mark Dredge described beer drinking. Early on your beer hunting days concentrate on cask golden ales, bitters and the like before you turn to bolder, stronger more challenging beers, Belgian Dubbels, Imperial Stout, Lambics etc.
This got me thinking about the latest news of Coors' new Clear beer that is being brought out marketed at women specifically. Detested by bloggers such as Melissa Cole, could this 'product' actually be a kind of a blessing in disguise? The limp biscuit of beer so to speak that could lead great numbers of women to drink quality beer?
On thinking twice my own opinion turns to.. No.
No, this kind of pap has evolved because the market research goons of the global brewers (or as I say, the dark side) have realised that if females were not so detracted from drinking beer, a vast new customer base could be established. Which (as they represent the lagers segment of the brewing industry) is exactly what could be needed to save the slow dying beer industry. The problem is (as we know) that the proportion of women that drink beer in the UK is incredibly low, compared to the likes of the US and Germany. If places like that have a beer culture that women feel accepted into then why cant the UK?
Then we should maybe also remember that going back half a century women weren't socially accepted in pubs, they just didn't do it. Then we have the way beer is marketed, which has been largely at men. For a long time cask ale brewers kept with the defensive stance of keeping marketing aimed at who they thought their core audiences were, namely old bearded guys. It was only when more progressive brewers came into the UK market that anybody had the balls to move away from the norm.
Then we have the image problem, take the stereotypes, Al Murray for example. Beer has been given this image, the image of masculinity, old guys drinking cask ale and young blokes drinking mega brand lager. Some may remember a long time back, I posted this. Now I have noticed a lot of people drink what alcoholic drink they drink for a series of reasons. Brand familiarity, image and the general ritual of sticking to what they know are some main ones.
But the most offensive part of the whole clear beer project is the marketing, this is covered well here, here and by the much respected Melissa Cole.
I know women who drink quality beer, and just because they are female doesn't mean they taste things completely differently. But I have also met girls who can't stand the merest hint of challenging flavour in a beverage, and get intimidated by the merest thought of trying a beer (but I have met just as many men with the same tastes). The difference between the men and women here is that the men usually choose to drink bland mass market beers, the women alcopops, wine, cocktails, all just to stay with the crowd, follow the heard. The major step of individualism, trying something new, comes from curiosity, and for the majority of beer enthusiasts I know, this curiosity was spurned from dissatisfaction. But think about it, to someone potentially curious to try beer what triggers the curiosity the old school pumpclip labelled 'Rumpypumpy old sheep rustler bitter' (or similar), or bright ornate or edgy fonts boasting 'Raspberry infused porter style ale'.
But those wishing to evangalise beer for women must remember; Shifting a stereotype or product image doesn't happen overnight. Since the early days beer has been seen as the drink of the barbarians, the liquid bread of the people, brewed for sustenance, pleasure and hydration of bodily fluids. Today beer is not the liquid bread of the people, it's brewed for pleasure alone, but with real science, superior brewing techniques and real passion.
In my opinion women deserve and have the right to real beer. Especially considering all those years they spent brewing the stuff for us blokes before the industrial revolution. To me some beer-alcopop hybrid seem pointless because the market it's really going to capture is the alcopop market, and probably only for a short time 'til the trend change. I say give women real beer, beer that's diverse, well crafted and sublime and let them make their own minds up.