(Bill Hogan / Chicago Tribune )
Did you guys see the video that was making the rounds on the internet the other week? No, not the one with the cats or the one with the corgi puppies, but those were great. This one was about beer. Specifically, it was about being a girl, and being intimidated by an extensive beer menu, being confused about what to order. And then it recommended three fairly stereotypical (Read: fruity and sweet and pink) drafts because they're "girl beers." Shoot, the video was actually called "Best Beers for Women to Order," only it wasn't about the best beers. It was about "girl beers."
Now, here's the thing: the video's hostess asked the beverage director at a downtown bar what beers women ordered the most. And to his credit, he said that his customers order across the board, but that the styles he chose for the video's purposes were representative of the drafts that women tend to choose at his establishment: lambic, Belgian and cider (which isn't actually a beer, but I digress).
And you know what? That's fine. And all of those drafts are fine. Shoot, as I'm writing this, I'm drinking a Vander Mill Totally Roasted cider and it's delicious and I cannot stress enough that there is nothing wrong with those styles. The thing that bugs me is that people tend to assume that those are the only types of beers that women enjoy, which is some [bleep]ing bull[bleep].
But then there's the fact that so many companies don't seem to bother marketing beers to women. Remember that commercial with giant guys playing football on the side of a mountain and then drinking a cold brewski that played during Monday Night Football, where the target audience is dudes? Women might be an afterthought in a beer commercial, but these ads aren't trying to get us to drink the product.
Instead, my gender gets skinny-everything and Chick Beer – which is a real thing, by the way. Rather than trying to explore some interesting flavors and provide women with an awesome entry point into craft beer, it's your standard light lager with a label that looks like a little black dress and a carton that looks like a purse. Because who cares if it tastes like water? It looks like a purse! Girls love purses, right?
The reason this awful video exists is to provide women who are not beer enthusiasts with some options for when they go out drinking at bars and are a little overwhelmed by a large beer list. And while the reasoning behind it is noble, no one, even the most novice of beer drinkers, should walk into a bar and ask what other members of his or her gender order most frequently and then make a decision based on the results. Ever.
If you're overwhelmed by a beer list, ask your bartender for help. Talk about what sorts of flavors you like and don't like. Tell your bartender what you're in the mood for, or if you're going to get food, so an appropriate pairing can be made. Talk about other things you like to drink, be it coffee or white wine or grapefruit juice. Bar staff will usually let you taste a variety of beer styles and explain what they all are, so that you end up with a beer that suits your palate and preference at the time. That's how it should be, anyway.
And if your thing is fruity wheat beers, that's awesome. And you have a ton of tasty options to choose from. But don't just choose something because it's "girl beer" and some stupid video told you to – choose it because you like it.
Stacey Andeen is a bartender in Chicago.