Women, Beer and CAMRA

dea-latis-website-header_v1Women, beer and CAMRA, which is the odd one out? Looking at all the desperate campaigns and articles in What’s Brewing, looking at the demographic in Bermondsey on a Saturday morning, comparing GBBF and say, Craft Beer Rising, the answer is clearly CAMRA. What got me thinking was an article by Annabel Smith, a founder of Dea Latis in What’s Brewing.

Without presuming to understand what goes on in women’s minds let me give you my observations, gleaned from watching women in pubs, Bermondsey and well, everywhere.

– women are not put off by alcoholic volume, they enjoy say, 250ml of 12% alcohol

– women like nice glassware

– women do not want high liquid volumes

You know what, it sounds an awful lot like what I want too!

Let’s go back in time. Pubs were full of men, lots of them were manual labourers. And what did they want? Fluid replacement and to be able to go to work the next day. 3.5% session bitter? Perfect.

Think about it. Six pints is over three litres, is it really enjoyable to drink that much liquid, whatever the taste? If any men are in denial about drinking six pints in a session by the way, whatever the government says is safe, then it scales down also. It’s generally a lot of liquid for the flavour (notwithstanding some notable weaker beers nowadays, some of them real ales too. Thornbridge Wild Swan, Kernel Table Beer, Otley Tri-O and Moncada Summer Blonde spring to mind.)

Snap. Back to today, it’s now 40 years since wine bars became the sophisticated place to drink. Everyone cares about something local. And America has discovered that Fuggles is not the only hop. Everything about food and drink is going extreme, from coffee beans that have been passed through the intestinal tract of a coypu to beef from cows that have personally massaged every day. Likewise beer.

In the cities where they are, craft beer bars and microbreweries are cool places to drink. City pubs rarely cut it.

In general women have resisted the charm of session bitters, real ale and CAMRA since they began. You can lead a lady to the pub but you can’t force her to drink a pint.

By contrast, the ‘craft beer’ scene has everything to attract both sexes equally, as it should be. The most amazing range of flavours, strengths, complexities, styles and glassware. Nobody is hung up about whether a flavourless, odourless gas is added to the beer or not.

One of the reasons why I love the ‘craft beer’ scene is the great generational and sexual equality in it. I don’t want to look at a bunch of old gits in sandals at a CAMRA festival, I’ve got a mirror for that.

So, of course women like beer, who wouldn’t? CAMRA need to be more inclusive of other beers, then they will be more inclusive of women.

Craft 100 at Craft Beer Co., Clapham

craft100Admirable idea to get 100 artisanal beers in a nice pub like Craft Beer Co., Clapham. But therein lies the rub. It’s always going to be a victim of its own success. So get there early on a weekday. Also the crowd, or lack of it, is much more diverse than the beer geekery who descend in the evening.

Twenty six beers in the launch/exclusive/collab section meant that you were tempted not to look further – and I’m not sure I did. The International Rainbow Project beers were still around at this time and for me the Wild Beer/Toccalmatto collab was unmissable, Indigo Child was as good as I’d expected, marvellous balance and depth.

It’s a nice venue, astroturf garden at the front and the back, where they put the cask beers and some interesting food, dosas on this occasion. (Stick with craft pork pies and sausage rolls imho). By the evening the place is heaving though, making it unpleasant.

Kernel’s Glen Garioch Barrel Aged Stout was the usual impeccable quality. Am I alone in thinking that Kernel’s real strength is in paler beers. Their IPA and Pale Ales are the nonpareil of British brewing. The Berliner Weisse is a lovely re-addition to the British scene. But the stouts, mmm, they are good, only. (NB Don’t bother looking for a description of the beer on the Kernel site, they don’t do that stuff, uncool maybe?).

Following the path less trendy, Kent Brewery’s Pumpkin Saison was lovely. Spicy, sweet in a good way, nice. You’ll have to take my word for that as it’s disappeared from their website now.

It’s a ‘festival’ that you have to go to for the great and rare beer – but get there early.

Venue:                 7/10
Beer selection:        8.5/10
Beer quality:          8/10
Atmosphere:            8/10
A good night out:      7/10
Total score:           40/50, 80%