A google search with the terms “woman” or “women” and “Wisconsin Beer” or “Wisconsin Brewing” reveal some interesting trends. Open a new tab and try it yourself. It’s very revealing, and as a woman, I find the results to be a bit ironic.
The first thing that you might notice is that Tyranena and New Glarus brewing have cornered the intersection of beer and woman branding with the beers “Bitter Woman IPA” and “Two Women Lager,” respectively. I’ve tasted both and I prefer the lager, without question, but not because I’m a woman. I just prefer drinking a beer that tastes less bitter. Beyond these two beers, the Wisconsin beer scene is sprinkled with beer labels that depict images of women and references to women’s bodies that, in some cases, are simply demeaning to women and the craft beer movement.
Lucette Brewing Company produces a series of beers including “Hips Don’t Lie”, “Farmers Daughter” and “Slow Hand,” Even without the pictures on the label (that are probably not designed to appeal to women), the names of the beers are shallow and suggestive. Yet the brewer with the most limited imagination must be the creative “talent” at Horny Goat Brewing. The images on the labels are large-breasted goat-like women in evocative poses advertising beers like “Horny Blonde” and “Baby Got Bock.”
Why do I find these results to be ironic? They are ironic because across the country, and especially in Wisconsin, women are the new face of craft beer and locally-made wines. As women, we drink them –we love a good drink made locally with local ingredients. But as women, we also make them and run the businesses, too. Let me highlight just a couple of the amazing women who are leaders in the Wisconsin craft beer and local wine scene.
Enter Bos’s Meadery, Madison’s first meadery. Colleen Bo is a longtime self-proclaimed medievalist and homebrewer. According to her website, she is committed to making meads with local ingredients and treating honey “gently.” I like that. It sounds feminine. I’m new to mead and I like imagining a brewer who treats her ingredients with tenderness.
While Bos’s is new and brews a unique beverage, New Glarus brewing is the unofficial Queen of craft beers in Wisconsin. One of the first craft brewers on the scene in the 1980s, New Glarus’s Deb Carey and her husband Dan created a brand that is as much Wisconsin as any iconic food or beverage we’ve had the pleasure to know. “Spotted Cow” paved the way for New Glarus and the rest of Wisconsin to learn about the value of locally-made and delicious craft beers. In 2011, Deb Carey was named Small Business Owner of the year. She honored her fellow Wisconsonites in front of the President of the United States when she received the award! In my opinion, there is no better representative of Wisconsin: a woman who runs a craft brewery anchored in a sweet, small, very-Wisconsin town.