As you know, I had the chance to attend Great American Beer Fest (GABF) last week. It was an interesting experience for sure. While I had a great time, it wasn’t all rainbows and puppies. After I left the fest, I recounted my experience to my husband (who did not attend the fest with me) and the more I told my story the more frustrated I became.
The craft beer industry is a predominantly male industry. When a lot of people think “craft beer” they often think of the bearded guy who brews beer. However, more and more women are entering this world, both as drinkers and working in the field. Despite this, as women we are sometimes not taken seriously. I’ve been fortunate in this regard in that I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been blown off or talked down to when it comes to craft beer.
At the largest beer fest in the nation, where craft beer lovers from all over gather to sample great beer and be among like minded souls, it didn’t occur to me that as a woman on her own at the fest that I would be treated any differently. But I was, and I wasn’t treated well. This is where my shock and frustration lies.
I patiently waited in line to get a pour of beer and when it was my turn I was ignored. Looked over, those pouring the beers would ask the person behind me what they would like. Even though I was right there. Even though I was clearly the next person in line. Yet I was passed over and people behind me got pours before I did. Even guys who were very visibly drunk got pours before I did.
This happened at just about every booth that I went to. At first I thought, Ok Andrea, you’re probably reading too much into this. Just move along.
The next booth I went to I ended up being the only one there so no one was behind me. I was clearly the next in line, yet no one was paying attention to me. The person pouring the beer just stood there and I literally had to wave my hand in his face to get him to recognize I was there and, oh yeah, would like a pour of beer.
At that point I realized, nope, I’m not reading too much into this, I was being ignored. So I started paying more attention to what was going on and who was getting served attentively.
- Males always got served first.
- Women who were accompanied by a male got acknowledged and served.
- Women who were in costume or more revealing clothing got acknowledged and served quickly.
All of those types of folks got served before I did. At every booth I went to. It didn’t matter if those pouring the beers were volunteers or if they worked for that brewery. Me, just an average chick who is into craft beer and who was not in the presence of a male or wearing a costume/skimpy clothing, got looked over. Every damn time. To the point where I had to start saying to the person pouring the beer, “EXCUSE ME, but I was actually next in line.”
I also experienced a weird situation where if I went back to a brewery for another sample of beer I was met with either, “Oh you’re back.” or “Oh it’s you again.” Um, yes? This is a beer fest, right? Where we can sample multiple beers? And I only got 1oz the last time through? Why wouldn’t I be back? I have no idea if this is unique to my situation or if others experienced that same reaction as well, but I do think it’s worth mentioning.
I left the fest frustrated and disappointed in the craft beer world. It’s still very much a man’s industry and that was made clear. I was not expecting to be treated differently from other attendees and walked in thinking it was going to be full of awesome craft beer people. Even though many of the people in charge of GABF and helping to make it what it is were in fact women, that didn’t seem to impact how the folks on the floor treated fellow women craft beer lovers.
Despite the fact that women are making great strides and impact in the craft beer world, after attending GABF it became obvious that we still have a long way to go.