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Do You Pass the Bechdel Test?

22 Jan

Here’s Emma Inch’s article from December 2017 about how The Bechdel Test could be applied to the beer scene:

‘Beer people are lovely people!’ and ‘The beer industry is a wonderful, friendly place!’ are things I’ve been told on a number of occasions since jumping boots-first into the scene a couple of years ago. And, for me, there’s a lot of truth in these celebratory statements. I spent the first two decades of my working life in an environment where I didn’t always see the best of how things could be. As a frontline social worker – and more latterly, a social work academic – I bore witness to desperation, deprivation, and sometimes degradation on a scale most would find hard to contemplate. I met many, many good people on both sides of the intervention divide – some of the bravest, warmest, creative, most intelligent people there are – and I have a lasting respect for them all. I also derived a great deal of satisfaction from my work, and felt immensely privileged to work alongside people in some of the darkest times of their lives. But, in terms of a joyful working environment, I can’t honestly say that it comes close to chatting over a mash tun in a breath-cloud cold brewery just as the sun is rising, or being handed the fullest, maltiest, fattest barley wine by a proud brewer with a grin so wide it must sting, or discovering a taste that will pin you forever to location, a time, an emotion, a memory that  will leave you changed.

But I’m lucky. First up, I’m an old-school butch dyke. I have a quiff and a comb, a pocket watch and a pocket knife. I don’t understand make-up and I sometimes get challenged when using women’s toilets. Men are occasionally scared of me, often confused around me, and regularly amused by me, but I’m absolutely not the kind of woman they want to sleep with. Secondly, I host a beer and brewing radio show, I write about beer for publications in which people want their brews featured, I won a British Guild of Beer Writers Award for Best Online Beer Communicator (I know – I’m shocked too), and I have a website, a podcast, a blog, and so – to my face at least – both women and men in the beer industry are lovely, and the environment in which I work is a wonderful and friendly place.

But I’m aware that’s not everyone’s truth. I don’t need to experience harassment in order to believe the women who tell me they are regularly harassed. I don’t need to feel the creeping nastiness of the belittling, objectifying, ridiculing, rejecting, grabbing, groping, saliva-spraying face of sexism, to know that it exists within the beer industry. I just need to see the dodgy pumpclips, engage with social media, and note the absence of women from many respected platforms within the industry.

But, as someone with a voice that occasionally grabs attention, if I see injustice, I also need to do something more.

I first came across Alison Bechdel and her wonderful ‘Dykes to Watch Out For’ comic strip in the early-1990s when, as a newly ‘out’ lesbian I would scour literature to find any representation of queer culture. In those pre-Internet days, Bechdel’s funny, inspiring and moving series, populated by a cast of lesbians and their friends, was one of the few places where a sympathetic portrayal of ‘women like me’ could be found. Complete with their interests, intricacies and insecurities, Mo, Sydney, Clarice and Toni, held a mirror up to the lives of lesbians all over the Western world, fighting injustice and celebrating personal victories, and all the time providing a community to those of us who were struggling to find a place in our own.

But it wasn’t until some years later that I realised that a 1985 ‘Dykes to Watch Out For’ strip called ‘The Rule’ had spawned a way of looking at the world that could be useful across many parts of life. The Bechdel Test – clearly explained in this short video here – is a benchmark or litmus test used to assess the presence of women in movies. For a movie to pass the Bechdel Test it needs to contain three things:

1. Two or more female characters with names…
2. …who talk to each other…
3. …about something other than a man.

This sounds fairly straightforward but, shockingly, around half of mainstream movies – some of our most well-loved films – actually fail this test, including the original Star Wars Trilogy, Slumdog Millionaire, Avatar, The Avengers, Finding Nemo, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the complete Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and many, many more.

Of course, just because a film passes does not mean it necessarily advances women’s rights. The Bechdel Test doesn’t assess whether something is progressive or challenging: it simply assesses whether women are present in any meaningful way. And, in a world in which women’s voices are regularly silenced, the mere presence of women is extremely important.

Over the years, the Bechdel Test has been applied or modified to assess other areas of culture including literature, journalism and even software development. And from there I believe it’s only a short hop to applying it to the contemporary beer scene. It is vital for the future of the industry that women are present on discussion panels, leading or chairing conferences, part of magazine editorial teams, present in beer education, at the centre of judging panels, represented at the highest level in brewing or consumer organisations, and called on as the experts they are to be listened to and heard. Importantly, I’m not suggesting that women are invited into male-dominated spaces solely to talk about incidents of sexism, or what it’s like being a woman in the beer industry. Making time to hear those testimonies is important but they are not the whole story – remember in order to pass the Bechdel Test, women must be talking about something other than men or their experiences at the hands of them. Inviting women into otherwise male enclaves in order to give a ‘woman’s perspective’ is also patronising, reductive and ignores the intersectional nature of all our identities in which we are defined not only by our gender – be that male, female or otherwise – but also our race, age, religion, sexuality, abilities, and so much more. It also causes us to miss out on the vast experiences and knowledge that women have amassed in their chosen fields.

The contemporary beer scene is not alone in sometimes struggling with the representation of women, and there are many examples of great work in this area. But every time women are invisible in areas of influence, every time a beer is marketed solely at men, every time a ‘beer for women’ is produced, every time we have to remind people that women were the first brewers, every time a disagreement on Twitter degenerates into macho posturing, every time craft beer lovers are portrayed as people with beards, every time a woman has to justify why she likes beer, or why offensive beer names are unacceptable, every time sexist ‘banter’ is excused, every time beer fans are greeted on social media as ‘lads’, every time the ‘women don’t drink beer’ myth is perpetuated, every time the consumption of alcohol is accepted as an excuse for sexist, racist or homophobic behaviour, we all lose out.

Having trodden the career path I have, I’m not naïve enough to propose that we should all just be kind to one another. But, at the very least, we need to hear each other’s voices. And, as such, I will continue to ensure that each edition of Fermentation Beer & Brewing Radio is Bechdel Test compliant. And I promise to loudly celebrate anyone else who, within their own field of work, commits to doing the same.

Emma can be found blogging and broadcasting on her award-winning website https://fermentationonline.com/

Sheffield Beer Week celebrates women working in beer

19 Jan

In March, Sheffield Beer Week celebrate its fourth year as a city-wide beer festival and series of beer-focused events occurring throughout the city from 12 – 18th March. 

This year sees a celebration of women working in the beer industry with a brewsters tap takeover event at The Rutland Arms, collaborating brews with Ashover and Welbeck Abbey breweries, working with consumer group the Ladies That Beer and Fem.Ale organiser Erica Horton to host beer tastings.

International Women’s Day on March 8th and will see Sheffield Beer Week celebrate with a brew-day as part of the run-up activity.

Other activities include a back to beer basics with venues acting as ingredient hubs (malt, hops, water, yeast, adjuncts) and hosting events; continued exploration of the Norwich City of Ale partnership with a city tap takeover and a mini Yorkshire beer photography trail working with photographer, Mark Newton and his Beer Yorkshire project.

On Saturday March 10th, to launch the week, there will be a new one-day ticketed beer festival, Indie Beer Feast –  celebration of craft beer in the iconic Abbeydale Picture House with brewery bars and great street food.

Jules Gray, Sheffield Beer Week Director and joint proprietor of Hop Hideout award-winning beer shop and tasting room, on Abbeydale Road, said: “2018 has a number of really exciting strands that I can’t wait to celebrate including all new ingredient hub venues and celebrating women working in the beer industry.”

Head to for more details

Discrimination debate takes centre-stage

10 Jan

Industry experts will gather at the Manchester Beer Festival trade day to debate how the beer industry should combat discrimination.

Taking place between 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm on 24 January at Manchester Central, the panel discussion “Sexism is bad for business. What are we going to do about it?” aims to address the ongoing issues and challenges of sexism in the beer industry and determine what practical steps can be taken to address it. It follows hot on the heels of the festival’s decision to filter out beers with sexist names or discriminatory images and CAMRA publicly condemning sexism and discrimination in the industry.

Master Beer Trainer Christine Cryne will lead the debate with the following panelists on board:

  • Jaega Wise, Head Brewer of Wild Card Brewery, who has recently made headlines for her comments on sexist beer labelling
  • Annabel Smith, beer sommelier and founder of Dea Latis, an organisation that aims to bring beer to more women
  • Barry Shaw, operations manager for Beerhouse’s pub chain which includes six pubs
  • Jennifer Smith, co-owner and founder of Brewsmith Beer, a ten-barrel brewery
  • Katie Wiles, CAMRA’s senior communications manager and beer blogger at wilesaboutbeer.com

Annabel Smith said: “During our years running Dea Latis we have gathered a lot of anecdotal evidence about sexism in the beer and pub sector. Most predominantly we have identified there is a proliferation of blatantly sexist beer names and imagery which alienate female consumers, and an assumption that brewing beer is a ‘man’s job’. It even filters down to bar staff who automatically assume that beer is for the males in a group, and women prefer wine.

“Dea Latis wants to change these attitudes and perceptions because we believe that beer is gender neutral and far too good to be appreciated only by men. Come along to the debate if you’re a beer loving female and want to hear your voice heard!”

Graham Donning, CAMRA’s Regional Director for Manchester, said: “Sexism has been a hot topic across many sectors recently. But even within our festival, we have seen outdated attitudes persisting over several years, despite our efforts. It’s led to us deciding passive solutions weren’t working and it was time to take positive action.

“It’s clearly a deep-seated problem within the beer industry of which we are only a small cog. More action is needed and our trade session provides an opportunity for industry professionals and volunteers alike to come together to take us beyond talk. We want to see some practical and realistic ideas on how we can all eradicate sexist attitudes in beer as soon as possible.”

The trade session will kick off the Manchester Beer Festival, and takes place between 5-9pm on the 24th of January. It is open to the press and members of the trade, as well as CAMRA members.

The festival will open to the general public from the 25th-27th January. Tickets are available at http://mancbeerfest.uk/.

 Dea Latis stages tasting for women MPs

27 Nov

Beer and women group Dea Latis staged its third beer tasting in Parliament recently, treating a room full of women MPs and women working in the brewing and related industries to an evening of beer and food matching. The group also announced some initial fundings from its recent research into women’s behaviours and attitudes around beer.

The event, organised jointly with the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group and British Beer & Pub Association, was attended by around 70 guests. Beer Sommelier and Dea Latis founder Annabel Smith guided them through six beer and food pairings designed to showcase beers from Dea Latis corporate members, while co-founder Lisa Harlow revealed the research results.

The event was hosted by Ruth Smeeth MP, vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group.  She said.   She said “Often in Parliament I’m the only woman in the room, so it made a lovely change to be in a room full of women.”

“I was delighted to meet so many talented women who are working in the brewing and related industries and I’m sure that their passion for beer will encourage more to forge careers in these sectors, and persuade more women to start drinking our wonderful national drink.

“All the MPs including myself greatly enjoyed tasting the wonderful and diverse selection of beers from around the country and were amazed how well they matched the different foods on offer.

“It was inspiring to discover that women are playing such a central role in leading Britain’s beer renaissance”

Lisa Harlow for Dea Latis said: “The Westminster event fulfilled two of our main aims: to highlight the women working in our industry and present it as a career choice for more women, and to encourage more women to drink beer. We’re glad that our MP guests enjoyed the evening and hope they are encouraged to become influential advocates for our cause.”

She added: “The top line findings from our research were received with interest by guests and we look forward to issuing the full results once we’ve analysed them, early next year.” The research was carried out thanks to a grant received by Dea Latis from the Brewers’ Research & Education Fund.

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, added, “We are delighted that a growing number of female MPs are championing beer as Britain’s national drink and grateful to Ruth Smeeth MP and her colleagues for taking time out of their busy schedules to support women working in our industry.”

The beers enjoyed by guests were:

  • Marston’s 61 Deep: served in champagne flutes as an aperitif
  • St Austell Tribute with Fish & Chips
  • Joseph Holt Humdinger with mini Croque Monsieur
  • Harvey’s Wharf IPA with onion bhaji
  • Shepherd Neame Bishops Finger with pigs in blanket
  • Marston’s Pearl Jet with mini roast beef and Yorkshire puds
  • Liefmans Kriek with chocolate truffles

All guests also departed with a bottle of Plum Porter, brewed by Titanic Brewery in Ruth Smeeth’s Stoke-on-Trent constituency, and a personalised bottle of Vedett, thanks to Dea Latis member Duvel, who took photos of guests and turned them into labels on the spot.

Attached image shows 

Notes to editor

Dea Latis was founded in 2010 by a group of women working in the beer and pubs industries and now has more than 400 supporters including brewers, beer tasters, marketeers, licensees, writers and bloggers, as well as six corporate members: Duvel Moortgat, Harvey’s, Joseph Holt Brewery, Marston’s, Shepherd Neame and St Austell Brewery. For more info, visit  www.dealatis.org.uk

-ends-

 

Further information:

Lisa Harlow: lisa@lisaharlow.co.uk / 07917 757860

Annabel Smith: annabel@beerbelle.co.uk / 07920 058500

Joseph Holt Brewery supports Dea Latis

20 Nov

Leading north west brewer partners with beer and women group

Manchester brewer and pub operator Joseph Holt Brewery has become a corporate member of beer and women group Dea Latis, committing funds, beer and other support to help the organisation achieve its mission of ‘bringing beer to women’.

As a Dea Latis supporter, Joseph Holt Brewery will enjoy a number of benefits, including the chance to serve its Humdinger beer at a tasting in Westminster on 21 November. The 4.1% ABV speciality beer, flavoured with Mexican honey, will be tasted by women MPs and others at the event, held in partnership with the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group and the British Beer & Pub Association.

Jane Kershaw, a trained brewer and now marketing manager at Joseph Holt Brewery, is the sixth generation to work in the family-owned business. She said, “We are delighted to be a partner to Dea Latis. There is a beer for every occasion and a beer for everyone and we are excited to work with Dea Latis to reach more people, demonstrate some fantastic beer and food pairings and show that there are indeed, many ways to drink beer and lager.

“Women have always played an integral part in running Joseph Holt Brewery managed, tenancy and retail partner pubs and in recent years we have employed many more women in the brewery office.  It is no longer a male dominated industry and Joseph Holt Brewery are proud to champion their successful women who will drive the company forward for many generations to come.”

Co-founder Annabel Smith said, “We’re delighted to have Joseph Holt Brewery on board as our sixth corporate member. They have a great range of award-winning beers and lagers and run some wonderful pubs across the north west, which we will be happy to make use of in our campaign to bring beer to a wider audience.”

Dea Latis now has a total of six corporate members: Duvel Moortgat, Harvey’s, Marston’s, Shepherd Neame and St Austell Brewery in addition to Joseph Holt. They have all agreed to support the group to help it significantly expand its activities. Dea Latis aims to be both a forum for women working in the industry, and a consumer-facing body, encouraging more women to make beer their drink of choice.

 

New brewster at Brewster’s Brewery

9 Oct

Grantham-based micro brewery, Brewster’s Brewing Company have appointed Alice Batham as Technical Brewer straight from Nottingham University after completing an MSc in Brewing.

Sara Barton said: “I’m really pleased to find a person of Alice’s calibre who will care as much about the brewing of beer as I do. Alice will be first tasked with hands on day to day brewing to familiarise her with our kit. The role will then grow to leading the team for recipe development and managing quality in the brewery”

“Alice was uniquely placed to understand the demands of a small brewery like ours as she has been steeped in brewing from an early age at her family brewery Bathams in Dudley, Black Country. Alice is the sixth generation of her family brewers. I was also fascinated to hear that it was a Charlotte Batham that first brewed beers Alice’s family business in the 1800s.”

Brewster’s Brewing Co Ltd was founded in 1998 by Sara Barton who has a Masters in Brewing from Heriot Watt and had previously brewed at Courage in their Berkshire Brewery.

Brewsters Brewery has won a host of national and international brewing awards and Sara was the British Guild of Beer Writers Brewer of the Year in 2012

www.brewsters.co.uk

It’s back…..beer and breakfast

10 Nov

christmas-beer-and-breakfast_landscape

Amaze friends with your beer knowledge this Christmas!

Our annual beer and breakfast get together is taking place on Friday 2nd December from 9.30 to 12 noon at the Kings Stores (courtesy of our friends at Greene King).

Situated at 14 Widegate Street, London, E1 7HP the Kings Stores is close to Spitalfields Market so you can squeeze in a cheeky bit of Christmas shopping afterwards or get back to your day job, invigorated, inspired and educated!

If you want to know what goes with a veggie sausage sandwich, avocado & bacon on sourdough and even granola and yoghurt then come along and find out! Each of the five courses is served with matching beers with commentary by the brewer or a beer expert.

Tickets for the five-course breakfast served with matching beers, tea, coffee and of course networking with other beer-loving women are just £25.

There are complimentary places available for press guests, please tick the ‘press ticket’ box.

We look forward to seeing you for a chat, a slurp and a taste.

To book your place, visit our Eventbrite page.

Ten brilliant beers by Liz Dodd in The Guardian

13 Jun

Festival beers article_Guardian_June 2016

Just as the food, drink and music festival season arrives, here’s a guide to ten beers to take along by beer writer and Dea Latis supporter Liz Dodd (who kindly mentions us too).

Ten brilliant beers article – The Guardian, 1st June 2016

Liz writes about beer, travel, and ideally beer and travel and for The Guardian, The Independent, Independent on Sunday and the i. She also writes a regular blog called It Comes in Pints.

Women to sample brewsters’ beer with brunch

9 Jun

Organisers of the Midlands’ biggest keg beer festival have collaborated with the women and beer group, Dea Latis, to run a special Brewsters’ Brunch, taking place at this year’s Birmingham Beer Bash on Saturday 23rd July 2016 .

Brunch2

The fringe event is dedicated to celebrating women in the brewing industry with tastings from three of Britain’s top female brewers or ‘brewsters’.

Michelle Kelsall from Offbeat Brewery in Cheshire, Gwen Sanchirico a native New Yorker now brewing at Sacre Brew in Wolverhampton and Sarah John from Swansea’s Boss Brewing will be providing beers and sharing their experiences as women in the male dominated brewing industry.

Hosted by one of the UK’s first female beer sommeliers and one of the Dea Latis founding members, Annabel Smith, the Brewsters’ Brunch is not a women-only event but the aim is to encourage women to go along from 10am to midday to enjoy the tasting of six beers brewed by women. The accompanying brunch will be provided by Peel & Stone, Birmingham’s top independent bakery based in the Jewellery Quarter.

Annabel said: “We’re extremely excited to be a part of this year’s Birmingham Beer Bash. We set up Dea Latis in 2010 as a group of women united by our love for beer and the belief that it is too good to be enjoyed only by men and run events like this around the UK.

“Having worked in the beer industry for over 20 years, I have seen a huge shift in women’s attitudes to beer. Thanks to the recent craft beer revolution there is much more information out there about styles of beer and great choice of ales. I think women feel more confident to ask about beers at the bar.”

Dea Latis recently conducted a survey of 600 beer drinkers which confirmed that more women are now regularly incorporating beer in to their repertoire.

David Shipman, founder and organiser of Birmingham Beer Bash added: “It’s always been part of our stated aims that we want to help bring more of the best beer experiences to Birmingham. Working with Dea Latis to celebrate women in brewing does exactly that.

“Beer Bash is a great opportunity for men and women alike to try different styles, talk to brewers and enjoy some of the great beers from around the country. We hope that this fringe event will show what brilliant female brewing talent we have in the industry.”

Tickets, available from Eventbrite and the main event website birminghambeerbash.co.uk, cost £22.50 and include a flight of six beers and brunch as well as admission to the popular Saturday daytime of the Birmingham Beer Bash.

Women & Beer Survey 2016

3 May

Women & Beer Survey 2016

Please can you spare less than five minutes to take part in a women and beer survey to help us conduct some research?

We want your opinion on whether attitudes by women towards drinking beer have changed over the last decade.

We would be delighted if you could share the survey link with any other friends who you think might be interested in taking part and we are very happy if you want to share the survey on social media. When the feedback is collated we will share the results with you.
If you could complete the survey by Wednesday 11th May we would be most grateful. Please click through here – Dea Latis Women & Beer Survey 2016

If you have any other views, strong opinions or even your own research that you would like to add please drop a separate email to us here.

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