Greetings gentle reader, my name is Ms Walker (spinster), and I am a lady. Now if, as I assume, you are of the gentlemanly persuasion and are reading this on the train on the way to your job as a coal miner or astronaut, you may be already quite perturbed by the idea of a lady writer. Worry not! I can guarantee that this article will contain no mention of private ladies matters or toileting. I wish only to avail you of my reasons for imbibing such a manly and masculine drink as a beer, and to re-assure you that I am part of a tiny minority of ladies who take part in such activities.
If I may, I will structure this article as a response to many of the questions you may yourself be asking upon discovering that ladies may on occasion drink beer. In this way I hope to create a timeless resource which can be tapped into by any journalist or blogger who has a 3pm deadline and has been expressly forbidden to submit any more think pieces entitled ‘Are Brewdog the Most Punk Thing Ever?’ or ‘Wetherspoons : The Human Zoo’.
Do you drink beer?
Yes. Despite being a lady, there are times when I drink beer, although with a number of caveats, as you will see.
When do you drink it? Is it just in certain situations?
Indeed! For example I would never drink a beer whilst being with child, whilst attending a gynaecologist’s appointment, or before 8am, unless I was in an International Airport, and with a male chaperone.
What do you like about it?
So many things! The sensation of tiny bubbles, the colourful pump clips which often have pictures of woodland creatures (and in the case of Mad Hatter, a whimsical rabbit illustration), and the thrill of potential intoxication. After a long week of crocheting, flower pressing, and smashing the shackles of the patriarchy, I find the numbing effects of a 3.2% session IPA to be just the ticket.
What type of styles do you prefer?
In all honesty, I have never been tempted to try any beer which strays past the golden and into the brown. I feel that a beer in one of the more masculine shades, for example a coal black stout or a cigarillo coloured bitter, would really be a step too far for a lady. I find that many hostelries now supply a tiny mason jar in front of the pump which displays the colour of the beer, which has been a tremendous help to me. I carry with me in my handbag a Dulux paint chart, which I hold against these tiny jars to make my selection. Once a beer passes Lemon Punch and heads towards Hazelnut Truffle, it’s off the menu!
Are there any styles you avoid (eg bitter)?
Absolutely! There are so many styles of beer now available that, quite honestly, choosing a suitable lady beer has become a minefield. My strategy is to imagine the type of man who might drink each style of beer, and firmly reject any drink which would send me hurtling towards rampant, testosterone soaked masculinity. For example, a stout or porter I imagine would be consumed by some kind of Irish labourer, perhaps a shipwright or farmhand. A bitter may be the preferred drink of a hardy Yorkshireman who smokes a pipe and wears shirt sleeves in midwinter. On the other end of the spectrum, a raspberry IPA might conceivably be enjoyed by a foppish young Oxfordian studying Classics at Balliol and reading 18th century French poetry as a pastime. This is much more the type of character a lady could be aligned to.
Do you enjoy a pub or find it too male oriented?
A good question. I like to think of myself as quite a modern lady, but as far as I’m concerned the only unchaperoned women you find in pubs are either alcoholic widows or prostitutes. When I am lucky enough to be able to engage a male chaperone (a family member or member of the clergy, no unmarried rakes thank you!), I can, on occasion, enjoy a pub in the same way that Kate Winslet enjoyed going below decks on the Titanic. However, I always keep to the lounge (I have no idea what goes on in the bar, and I do not wish to find out!) and reject any pub which has gaming machines, live sports, or a suggestive name such as The Bird in the Hand, The Cock Inn, or The Vibrating Dildo.
If you don’t go to the pub, where do you go?
I find there’s nothing so amusing as sitting in my own parlour with a few lady friends and sipping at a weak pale ale, perhaps discussing lady things such as the latest cross stitch patterns, how sweet kittens are, and which member of One Direction would be the best at performing cunnilingus. If I must drink beer outside my home and without a chaperone, I tend to favour cake shops or artisan bakeries, although I have been known to sneak a bottle into Gregg’s cafe.
Do you prefer cask ale, lager, or the ambiguous ‘craft ale’?
Another minefield! Lager is not what I would call a lady’s drink unless it was flavoured liberally with lime or blackcurrant, or perhaps served in an antique Victorian teacup. I find the pulling motion which accompanies the pouring of cask ale to be rather provocative and at certain times of the month, likely to bring on a hot flush. I feel that craft ale from a bottle (or a can if in the New World) really is the most sensible choice. The ambiguity of craft ale really is no trifling matter, as a general rule of thumb I would say that any beer filtered to beyond 5 microns is still undergoing fermentation and therefore can still be considered to be real ale in the sense that it is not technically brewery conditioned. Also, craft ales tend to have funny names like Salty Kiss!
I hope that this has been informative for you, and that you remember that although ladies were the original brewers, and that the 2014 beer sommelier of the year was a lady, the world of beer really is none of our business! Ladies should be ever thankful that space can be found in the world of beer and brewing for us at all, and help to re-assert the idea that we are strange anomalies who should be treated with fascination and bewilderment. Cheers! Or as we ladies say, chin chin!