Is there really a need for women-targeted beer?

Too Hop’d to Handle IPA is one of High Heel Brewing’s two beers that are specifically geared toward women // Image via @highheelbeer

A new contract brewery directly targeting women is set to begin distributing next month, reports USA Today.

High Heel Brewing is the brainchild of 20-year industry veteran and master brewer Kristi McGuire, formerly an employee of Anheuser-Busch and most recently a consultant within the craft brewing industry.

McGuire, who’s based in St. Louis, has partnered with contract brewery Brew Hub, located in Florida. Her goal: to make “beers that cater specifically to women.”

According to McGuire, this means stylish packaging, a logo of a hop poised on a stiletto heel, and beers that have a “bold, but nuanced approach.”

The first two High Heel beers are:

  • Slingback Perry Ale (5.4% ABV; made with pear and passion fruit juices, chamomile, and elderflower; slightly more carbonated than most ales to give it “a light, refreshing finish akin to Prosecco)
  • Too Hop’d to Handle IPA (8.4% ABV, 89 IBUs; made with four different kinds of hops, citrusy, and bold.)

Too Hop’d also has an addition of Belgian candy sugar, which “lessens that little bit of malt linger that stays on your tongue,” McGuire told USA Today. “I think women will appreciate that.”

However, there’s no clear data or trend pointing at the need for beer targeted specifically at women.

“Historically, women have always been involved in beer,” said Emily Engdahl, executive director of the Pink Boots Society, a women’s beer professional group which has more than 2,900 members. “We started out as the ones who were brewing beer … it was really the Industrial Revolution that knocked us out and the craft beer revolution that brought us back in.”

And the Brewers Association estimates that women already consume about 32% of craft beer, with women aged 21 to 34 accounting for 15% of all consumption–and that was in 2014.

Women-owned breweries and women working in other areas of the beer industry are no longer surprising realities, just like women opting to drink craft beer–any craft beer, not just beer specifically targeting them–is no longer a surprise.

As Engdahl, of Pink Boots Society, said: “We don’t need a beer marketed to women because we need to market all beer to all people based on benefits of the beer itself.”

That sentiment was echoed by Jimmy McCune, executive director of New York advertising firm EGC Group’s craft beverage division. “A non-gender approach to beer is ideal,” McCune said. “Any time you isolate or shun half your audience, it’s never a good place to be.”


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