Craft beer, as an industry and as a community, does tend to try its hardest to be a welcoming place for all genders. It’s something of an uphill battle, as the macro beer market in particular was male-dominated for so long that there was a time when a woman ordering even a domestic light lager was met with raised eyebrows. The vast majority of craft breweries, meanwhile, recognize that they can’t exactly afford to turn down the business of the rapidly growing female craft beer segment via sexist marketing. After all, women consumed 33% of all craft beer in the U.S. back in 2014 (the most recent statistic), and that number has only risen since. Within a few years, the craft customer base will be truly egalitarian, right around 50/50. And at the same time, more craft breweries owned or operated by women come online every day.
Which is why it’s so sad—and let’s face it, funny, in a pathetic sort of way—when craft beer and cider companies still occasionally struggle with displaying overt sexism in their marketing materials. Sometimes it’s in the use of sexuality via beer labels, which is something I’ve written about in detail before. And other times, it’s much more blatant and direct. This is one of those times.
The other week, I received a press release from a hard cider producer in Boonville, CA called Bite Hard. I didn’t really think anything of it at first, unwrapping a few bottles of dry and semi-sweet cider, of the sort Paste receives multiple boxes of on any given day. But then I got around to actually reading the press release. Here’s a single paragraph of that release.
The craft cider movement was originally created for—and driven by—the girlfriends of craft beer drinkers. Men and women’s palates and taste preferences differ … in large part because women have more taste buds than men, making females anatomically superior tasters. Men who like craft beer tend to prefer “hoppy” tastes. The craft beer drinker’s girlfriend was seeking an alternative.
Yikes. Reading it, I couldn’t help but shake my head and laugh. I’ve read a lot of weird stuff in press releases, but I can’t remember the last time I read something so blatantly, cluelessly sexist. In only a few sentences, they make so many assumptions, generalizations and oversimplifications, both positive and negative. And the cherry on top is that it seems to be written with a goal of accomplishing nothing. There’s no outcome that could come out of any of that text that would possibly be desired. So let’s dive into each incredibly misguided bit in greater detail.