While drinking beer is often seen as a male preserve, the UK brewing industry is trying to re-engage with women consumers. On the continent female beer drinking presents a very different picture to that here in the UK. The number of women who claim beer as their preferred drink is vastly higher. In Spain, 44% of beer serves are for women, whilst in Turkey the percentage rises to 61%.
According to the Office of National Statistics, in 2009 UK women were more likely to consume higher strength alcoholic beverages such as wine and spirits than men. Only 19% of alcohol intake for women was from beer and cider, whereas 57% was consumed as wine. As a consequence the alcohol consumed by women was also 36% stronger than for men.
The beer industry today faces an enormous challenge to re-engage women consumers. Presenting beer as the lower-strength drink of choice means addressing issues of advertising, serve volumes and busting myths such as the ‘beer belly’.
In the UK the BitterSweet Partnership (bittersweetpartnership.com) has been set up to help alter women’s perceptions of beer, to discover what women want from beer and enlighten women on the sheer depth and breadth of the drink. Their research found that 42% of women feel that beer advertising needs to change in order to appeal to the female market.
In addition, the burgeoning UK craft brewing industry has resulted in renewed interest in both national and local beer festivals. Such events allow both men and women to learn first-hand about the benefits of beer and the complexities that make up the flavours and aromas of our many British beers. With over 60 different beer styles to choose from there is something for everyone. Male dominated adverts can shape negative opinions amongst women in the UK but beer is a refreshing drink that can and should be enjoyed by both men and women alike!