Thanks to the contemporary culture, advertisement (and not only), beer is perceived as a masculine beverage to be enjoyed by men, and exclusively among men. Does this also give you a belief that the word of brewing is a man´s world?
As today is International Women’s Day, let’s uncover the truth. And this is pretty fascinating!
Since the beer was accidentally invented, and this happened more than five thousand years ago (!!!), women built brewing history. Goddesses, Queens, Benedict abbesses, Brew mistresses, and many (extra-) ordinary women have been indelibly linked to the art beer.
We cannot name all of them, but today let us honor some at least…
According to the old legend, if it was not about an ancient Mesopotamian woman, we would maybe not have beer at all yet…
She discovered some crushed cereals in a cup exposed to rain, from which she could have later produced first-ever beer.
Following that event, beer was a homebrew beverage prepared by women for the whole family, and brewing became an important societal function. for example, Queen Kubaba, the third Sovereign of the Sumers in the Mesopotamian civilization, owed her social promotion (among others) to the reputed brewing skills, which she developed as a barkeeper.
Beer was also a very popular beverage in ancient Egypt and offered to Gods as part of the religious rites. Famously known queen Cleopatra, valued beer so much that she exported the beer to the Roman empire, although the competition on the feast tables was rather brutal, given the breadth of the wine production there.
The real breakthrough in brewing was recorded in the middle ages though, and interestingly enough thanks to a woman, Hildegard von Bingen, a German abbess.
It was only in the eleventh century when the hops were introduced into the process of brewing, and shortly after, the first systematic study of the hop usage in the brewing process was performed by Hildegard von Bingen. It had critical importance because hops preserve beer from bacterial contaminations, thus allowing shipping for long distances.
There are numerous amazing stories about women and beer, and I am sure each of us can tell some more, those with a more personal touch, but fast forward, eighteenth-century United Kingdom women constituted more than 80% of the brewers. They were the so-called alewives or brewsters, who prepared beer for consumption at home and sold the surplus in front of the house, or dedicated rooms for in-situ consumption, which were the precursors of bars.
The Guild institutionalization and industrial revolution brought dark times into the position of women. At that time, men became predominant in beer manufacturing, also thanks to the laws for brewing were pretty restrictive for women in beer production.
Things did not change until the 1970s, when more women could re-join the breweries as a valid workforce.
Nowadays, with the boom of craft brewing, women take the stage again, with a significant (and still growing!) number of brewmistresses. Some of them are gaining more attention from the international audience as Anne-Françoise Pypaert, the brewmistress of one of the very few Trappist Breweries, located within the walls of Benedict monasteries and are brewed to sustain the needs of the monastery and its community.
Which beer is women`s favorite?
All! From Lager to IPA, the taste of women and men are just the same. There are certain trends, and individual-specific preferences, and certainly among the large variety of beers, anyone can find her/his favorite one.
Beer would not be the same without women!