Women and beer

While advertising for beer often features female bodies, women are less often shown as protagonists or target market consumers for beer. It seems that the beer industry has been overlooking its female market during recent times. Obviously, women drink beer. Women brew beer, like beer and buy beer. So why is it still not being overtly sold to us?

In New Zealand, the beer industry has established the “man’s drink” guise for their consumers, and this mirrors the marketing strategies in Europe and the United States of America. You only have to google a few beer adverts for this to become pretty clear.

But all over the world, women are drinking beer. Why does advertising support the idea that we don’t, or that our drinking is somehow conditional? Why should it require a type of woman or a type of beer, to be visible?

13052012 NEWS CAMERON BURNELL/Taranaki Daily News. Taranaki Bride of the Year competition at the Plymouth International New Plymouth. Katrina Hayman nee Fraser beer bride generic drinking

The answer, I believe, is found in historical precursors to our modern drinking habits. The conditions of gender equality (if you haven’t noticed, this is another thing I care deeply about besides beer) has an effect on who consumes alcohol and where. It is not always that easy to walk into a bar and buy a drink, if you are not in a position of social privilege. To consume alcohol safely, one must also consider the social implications of “having a drink”. We all know the dangers of being young, drunk and female (cue: problematic gender assumptions and rape culture).

Temperance for all genders was advocated in the late 19th century by suffragettes such as Kate Sheppard, while campaigning for women’s right to vote in NZ. There was a Temperance movement in other parts of the world too, such as England, Ireland, Australia and the USA. It was a reaction to the heavy drinking culture that had been a formative part of the Colonial period and the Industrial Revolution. Temperance and abstinence were advocated as a means for a morally better and more equal society. While drinking celebrated economic and individual liberties for working class men and women, it also came with its own set of social problems.

During the First World War, NZ became sympathetic to the cause of Temperance as a means of showing support for our troops and for austerity. Hotels and restaurants enforced a 6pm closing time, unwittingly resulting in the working population knocking off at 5pm and heading straight to the pub, drinking as much beer as they could in the 1 hour before the bar stopped service. This environment became increasingly unfriendly to women drinkers.

Establishing our binge-drinking culture, this was known as the ‘six-o’clock swill.’ The legislation was introduced in 1917 with good intentions. However the result when it was lifted in 1967 was that a heavy-drinking, wife-beating culture was ingrained well and truly into our psyches.

Alcohol consumption, unfortunately, strolls along amicably with domestic violence incidents. In NZ currently, 1 in 3 women experience physical and/or sexual violence from a partner in their lifetime. Lately, an average of 13 women, 10 men, and 9 children are killed per year in our country as a result of family violence (see below for reference). This is not always due to alcohol consumption, but it is too often a factor.

Beer, like Capitalism, is inherently neither good nor evil but it needs to be used in a responsible and considerate manner. If we want to become a just, fair and equal society, we need to address the social issues behind alcohol supply and alcohol abuse.

Modern drinking culture has introduced problems to indigenous cultures that did not exist prior to colonization. In many parts of Australia, indigenous people were not granted the right to vote and were not allowed to purchase alcohol legally until the 1960s. This encouraged illegal drinking and alcohol abuse. Disturbingly, it is reputed that there are premises in rural Australia today that will still refuse entry to Indigenous Australians. This is a feminist issue because sexism, class oppression, gender identity and racism are inextricably bound together.

“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

Words used by Lilla Watson, Aboriginal elder, activist and educator from Queensland, Australia.

Let us all drink beer, together.


beer truths full copy
Artwork by me, Copyright Alix McEntegart 2016.

Sources and further reading:

Reframing women and beer: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-conrad-/what-happens-when-your-an_b_5400848.html
Beer and Colonial America: http://ushistoryscene.com/article/american-drinking/
Women drinking in Victorian England: http://www.victorianlondon.org/women/womendrinking.htm
Beer in NZ: http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/alcohol/page-1
Beer and indigenous cultures: http://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/health/aboriginal-alcohol-consumption#axzz41Pz9myEl
Domestic violence in NZ: http://areyouok.org.nz/family-violence/statistics/
Women and beer

Beer + food pairing #4

This makes me excited. I feel so sophisticated because I learned to make Labneh! Then I discovered an incredible beer to pair with it. I’ll share a hint with you: making Labneh is easy, it will impress the shit out of your friends and even their offspring. You just need to start 24 hours in advance.

#4 Renaissance Scotch Ale + Harissa honey labneh


  • a piece of muslin cheese cloth or large clean chux cloth
  • a plastic strainer (metal will rust)
  • a large bowl
  • some fridge space


  • 1 Litre of natural yoghurt
  • 2 tsp good quality salt
  • 2 tsp harissa powder
  • 4 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp tahini
  • fresh carrots
  • 1 bottle of Renaissance Stonecutter Scotch Ale


  1. Mix the salt and yoghurt. Place the cheese cloth or a clean piece of chux cloth into the strainer and position this over a large bowl. Pour in the yoghurt and leave it to strain in the fridge overnight, tipping out the whey (or you can use this for smoothies, I didn’t).
  2. After 24 hours, take the thickened yoghurt and mix in the honey, harissa and tahini to taste.
  3. Serve with carrot sticks, or any dipping implement of your choice.

I suggest adding the honey and harissa in small quantities so you can find a balance you like. On my first attempt I used a Tunisian Chilli Harissa sauce, made by a company called Nelson Naturally. It is quite sweet already, so I threw in the tahini to balance this out. This combination won me over with its fragrant, earthy, dukkah flavours. I found this matched well with the toasty, burnt earth qualities of the Scotch Ale.

Renaissance Brewing Company’s Stonecutter is so hearty and such a great beer to pair with food, it would actually stand in for a glass of red wine at the dinner table. I challenge you to find something this beer does not go with! Well actually, don’t waste your time. But you could take this recipe a step further: roast your carrots, maybe with some venison or baby beets, THEN top it off with the Harissa honey labneh. I have a feeling the Stonecutter would still be a perfect match.


Additional recipe:

Slow-cooker Pulled Pork (serve with Harissa honey labneh and Roasted baby carrots)

While you are starting off your labneh, why not throw some pork shoulder into the slow cooker? This combination is even better than I thought it would be.

Additional ingredients:

  • 1.5kg pork shoulder, bone in
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 Tbsp harissa powder
  • ground black pepper
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 orange
  • Harissa honey labneh (see recipe above)
  • 250g baby carrots


  1. Cut the pork shoulder into 4 pieces, so that it will fit snugly into your slow cooker.
  2. Mix the salt, pepper and harissa powder in a small bowl. Coat the 4 pieces of pork shoulder evenly in this mix, reserving about 1 Tbsp of the salt mix.
  3. Lightly fry the pork pieces, once browned place them into the slow cooker.
  4. Add the stock, red wine vinegar, 1 Tbsp salt mix, cinnamon, 2-3 pieces of orange peel and the juice from the orange.
  5. Cook on high for 3 hours, then low for 2 hours.
  6. The next day, remove your pork pieces and pour the stock into another bowl. Pull the pork meat from the bone and remove the fat. Return it to the slow cooker with enough stock to cover. Bring it back to the boil for another 30 mins.
  7. While the pork is cooking, wash your baby carrots thoroughly. Sprinkle them with a little salt and olive oil and bake them at 200C for around 15mins.
  8. Serve the pulled pork with a dollop of labneh on top and baby carrots on the side. And, of course, the Stonecutter Scotch Ale.




Beer + food pairing #4