Sat August 11, 2012 4:03pm
FOUR drinkers walk into a bar, order some beers and settle in for the night. The punchline? They're all women.
Just as Australia's craft beer movement has undergone a revolution in the past five years, so too has the beer drinking demographic.
A love of boutique beer now doesn't automatically come with a beard, argues "Beer Diva" Kirrily Waldhorn, an industry judge who hosts beer appreciation dinners and tastings across the country.
Less than a decade ago, she says, women drank around 10 per cent of the volume of beer sold in Australia - now that's up to 15 per cent and rising.
"We've still got a long way to go. In Belgium, home to some of the world's great beers, women drink around 40 per cent of volume and in the US it's 25 to 30 per cent. But the trend is definitely there, for a variety of reasons.
"Women have a very finely attuned palate and the variety, the myriad flavours, on offer from all the craft beers gives us so much choice."
Ms Waldhorn sees the trend everywhere, from bars to beer festivals such as the Trainworks Winter Beer Festival at Thirlmere on August 25.
"Lots of venues are also putting far more care and attention into how they present beer in terms of the glassware, the education of the staff and so on - all of which makes it far less blokey," she said.
"There are more than 120 craft breweries in Australia now but it's still only 2 per cent of total volume so the potential is absolutely huge."
Writer and media commentator Emma Markezic notes the "all-inclusive atmosphere" in the sort of bars serving boutique beers: "You can take your date, your parents, anyone."
Nominating Redoak and the Rocks Brewing Company as brewers in the vanguard of change, she said: "I think a lot of women avoided beer for a long time because they found it a masculine pursuit but that's akin to saying men can't wear pink because it's feminine - it's old fashioned and just plain no fun. It's not all cans and stubbie holders. Beer drinking is a lot more sophisticated these days."