Tag Archives: women and craft beer

Tempest Turns Nine Months Young: An Index of Writing to Date

Cue up all the old clichés about time’s swift passage, for it has been three-quarters of a year now since I posted my first article on A Tempest in a Tankard. Thanks for all the support over these past several months! I’ve learned plenty from all of your insightful comments.IMG_9931 I’ve also learned much just by traveling around to do the interviews and research for Tempest’s articles, to say nothing of the people I’ve met who have led some fascinating lives. No two brewers took the same journey to their brew kettles and fermenters.

On the occasion of Tempest’s nine-month birthday, I’m putting together an index of articles that I’ve written to date. I’ve decided to do this for a few reasons. First and foremost, I’d like to introduce newer readers of Tempest to some of the previous articles buried deep in the virtual archives of the blog.

Second, I don’t really write pieces that are “of the moment.” I’d like to think that much of what I write––brewery profiles, travelogues, recipes, reflections on craft beer and culture, beer evaluations––has utility beyond the few days after I post it. Blogs are sequential by nature, making navigation difficult even with the aid of the categories listed across the top of Tempest’s home page.IMG_0153 Pieces written months ago tend to get lost under the weight of a temporality that favours the most recent post.

Finally, I don’t usually write my serial posts sequentially, so an index will give me the opportunity to group series pieces together––and will give you the opportunity to read them as a series, if you so choose. With a few weeks left of summer travel, the regional spotlights and brewery profiles are particularly timely.

I’ll post this index in two installments. First on deck is a list of my articles on beer and culture, together with my regional spotlights. Next up: a list of my brewery profiles and beer reviews, along with recipes I’ve posted to date for those interested in cooking and food/beverage pairings.

If you haven’t already signed up to have A Tempest in a Tankard’s articles delivered via e-mail, please consider subscribing so you can read the articles as they’re posted. Cheers!

Reflections on Beer and Culture

Never the Twain Shall Meet?

My very first article for A Tempest in a Tankard, one that I posted when I had all of three regular visitors to the site. The article answers a provocation unleashed by another beer blogger on the occasion of a monthly beer writers’ forum called The Session. The question: “What the hell has America done to beer?, AKA, USA versus Old World Beer Culture.”

Celebration Time? Women in the Craft Beer World

Times, they are a changing, but the gender gap is still quite wide in the craft beer world, especially on the marketing end. I’d be rich if I had a dollar for every time someone told me that women prefer fruity beers.

Drinking Lager in an Age of Extreme Taste

A few thoughts on how our taste is shaped by trends and tastemakers. I don’t mind hops, and Imperial Stouts are up there among my favourite beer styles. But by indulging our drive toward ever more intense and novel flavours, we have, perhaps, devalued more subtle beer styles in the process.

Terroir and the Making of Beer into Wine

Guest writer Kevin Goldberg’s insightful piece debunking the notion of terroir, which generated so much interesting discussion that I wasn’t able to confine my own response to the comments section of the article.

The following three articles approach the notion of place and locality from different angles. A fourth piece will appear at some point that redeems some elements of the notion of beer and place.

Of Isinglass and Other Fine Additives

This response to the “Food Babe’s” article on the “shocking” ingredients in beer is my most widely-read piece to date, likely because the issue of fish bladder in beer flares up at regular intervals on the interwebs.

Celebrating Craft Lager Day

As much as it is an article on a particular beer (Kapsreiter Landbier), it also represents a challenge to prevailing sentiments that sometimes confuse IBU levels with quality.

The Curiosity Cabinet

Donuts? Bacon? Ancient recipes? Southern Tier’s Crème Brûlée features here, but expect other articles on beers in my curiosity cabinet in the coming months.

City and Regional Spotlights

Austin: A User’s Guide for the Craft Beer Enthusiast:

This is a comprehensive series that you can take with you as you visit Austin. Break it down into parts, or read the series as a whole.

  • Part I––Brewpubs
  • Part II––Breweries. Saké, too.
  • Part III––Taprooms and Bottle Shops. Craft Pride and Sunrise Mini-Mart. ’Nuf said.
  • Part IV––Tempest’s Tankard Ratings and the Best Brews in Austin. The tankard system unveiled. You’ll see more of this in the future, much as I dislike ranking beers.

The Epic Stillwater to Vancouver Road Trip, Spring 2014:

  • Tempest Hits the Open Road: Dispatches from the Beerways of North America. Not much about beer, but the piece––one of my personal favourites––lays the groundwork for the rest of my Stillwater-Vancouver road trip this past April and May.
  • Wyoming––A Snapshot from a Moving Vehicle. Cheyenne kicks things off, followed by Coal Creek in Laramie.
  • Idaho and Montana––Of Roadtrips and Aleways. I’ve always been fascinated by the routes we travel. The “discovery” of this trip is Trickster’s Brewing in Coeur d’Alene. Missoula has plenty to offer, too, including Kettle House’s Cold Smoke Scotch Ale.

Gorges and Good Beer in Ithaca and Environs:

  • Part I: A brief history of the Ithaca area, followed by a visit to Ithaca’s oldest craft brewery.
  • Part II: Includes features of the newer faces on Ithaca’s craft beer scene: Bandwagon Brewpub, Hopshire, and Rogues’ Harbor.
  • Part III: A guide to some of the best craft beer watering holes and bottle shops in Ithaca.



Capital Brewery (near Madison, WI): F.D. Hofer

Malted grain at FarmHouse Malt (Newark Valley, NY): F.D. Hofer

Hop bines and grape vines at Abandon Brewing Co. (Penn Yann, NY): F.D. Hofer


Celebration Time? Women and the Craft Beer World

*The inspiration for this piece comes from early November’s The Session topic.

Here’s a scenario that was making the rounds in many a cultural sensitivity workshop about a decade ago. It goes something like this:

A doctor was driving home early one evening and came across the scene of an accident. On the sidewalk lay a boy with broken limbs who had been clipped by a car while riding his bike. The man pushed his way through the crowd to administer first-aid. To his horror, he saw that the person was his son. An ambulance arrived, and whisked the child to the hospital. There, the emergency room physician gasped, “That’s my son!”

These days, many of us would undoubtedly be quick to pick up on what’s happening in this riddle that seemingly bends the dimensions of time and space. But let me put it another way.

A woman walks into a homebrew club meeting. Those who didn’t notice that she walked in with her partner look at her politely but quizzically, some venturing to suggest that maybe her friends are in another part of the bar. The ones who did notice that she walked in with her partner offer her some homebrew and attempt to break the ice by asking what kinds of beer her partner likes to brew.

Turns out she’s the homebrewer.

Despite many an optimistic prognostication that women are taking the craft beer scene by storm, certain stereotypes die hard. I align myself with those who celebrate the narrowing of the gender gap in the craft beer world, but alas, I see a glass half empty sitting on the table.

Increasingly, women are turning up at the helm of breweries. Kim Jordan is co-founder and CEO of New Belgium Brewing, one of the largest craft brewers in the United States. Tonya Cornett, formerly of Bend Brewing Company and now brewmaster at 10 Barrel Brewing, continues to attract attention. And Teri Fahrendorf, herself a brewer with twenty years’ experience under her belt, heads up Pink Boots Society, an organization that “empower[s] women beer professionals to advance their careers in the brewing industry through education.”

All good. But it’s important to recognize how persistent the notion is that women, if they drink beer at all, drink light and fruity beers, to say nothing of brewing beer.

Men dominate both the brewhouse and distribution channels. Julia Herz cites numerous optimistic stats charting the involvement of women in the craft beer world, but even she admits in a 2012 article for CraftBeer that a scant ten percent of American breweries employs women brewers.

Meg Gill of Golden Road Brewing in L.A. recalls how, early in her career, people mistook her for the “Bud light girl handing out stickers.” Women – and the beer they drink – are often pigeon-holed into their respective gender receptacle, with bartenders routinely pointing women in the direction of fruit beers, or so-called “beginner beers.”

So where do we go from here? I have a few observations that might double as starting points for conversations and suggestions.

Homebrew Clubs:

I’ve been homebrewing for a few years now, and look forward to monthly homebrew club meetings, wherever home might find me at that particular moment. The homebrew clubs I’ve come to know over the years embody magnanimity, welcoming even the most wayward of travelers. But women are always conspicuously under-represented.

The STEM streams – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – are vastly overrepresented by males among homebrewers and professional brewers alike. Nothing surprising there – but the situation also mirrors the gender distribution in physics, math, and engineering more generally. Given this critical mass at club meetings, it’s also not surprising that a certain kind of technological discourse permeates discussions. It’s not that these clubs are unwelcoming; it’s just that the standard diet of brewing processes and equipment specs can, at times, sound like the tech talk at your local garage, minus the centerfolds.

Marketing Perceptions

If I had a brewery, I’d give some consideration to the semiotics of my labels and marketing. We may take umbrage at the way in which brands from the U.S to Japan objectify women to sell their product.

Sapporo Beer Woman 30s

But what about marketing and branding practices in the craft beer sector? I’ll take but one example: Flying Dog. And let me preface this by saying that I don’t single out this brewery lightly, for their politics seem to align, at points, with my own. What’s troubling is the way in which sexism is veiled in the cloak of counter-cultural progressivism. No naked women to be seen on their labels that claim an intimate relationship with contemporary American counter-culture literature, but a kind of misogyny is present no less.

With its progressive pedigree, how could one raise objections to Flying Dog? Hint: the labels. Without the assurance on the label that this is a counter-culturally approved product, some of it comes across as sophomoric. I would hasten to add, though, that I’m not advancing some sort of plea for label censorship. Far from it. But labels have a powerful influence on purchasing decisions; and though I know good people who are fans of Hunter S. Thompson and of Flying Dog, I tend not to buy Flying Dog beers.


What are your thoughts and experiences? If you live outside of North America, what’s the situation where you live? Feel free to join the discussion in the comments.

© 2013 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.