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I have some personal biases I’d like to share. I’m the father of four daughters and, maybe as a result (but also possibly because of my normal disposition), I wanted to make a huge deal out of March as Women’s History month. Particularly, I wanted to make a big deal out of the successes of women brewers, as this is a beer blog. Here on the Eastern Shore, we only have one women-owned brewery, 3rd Wave.
I’ll try and talk about 3rd Wave without gushing in a second.
Dogfish Head (which will feature in the coming weeks) doesn’t hire women, in only hires brewing professionals. Many of those brewing professionals are women, but that is incidental. The reason I felt the need to say that is because of how long I’ve been struggling to write about the women-ness of brewing. Witness:
Lori Clough, who owns and runs 3rd Wave Brewing with Sue Vickers, is just (not merely, but exclusively) a brewer. As far as I’ve been able to discern, nothing about her being a women affects her brewing sensibilities any more than does Sam Caligione’s being a man affect his.
People like beer.
The reason we (or at least I) feel like it is important to celebrate women brewers and women craft beer lovers generally is what I’ll call the THBs—Two Hideous Bs (Bikinis and Budweiser, insofar as they are different). The THBs sell what we’ll nominally call the ideal world; cheap women and beer, all indistinguishable from one another. It smacks of the world of the underage drinker, a man-boy who has had beer and sex and been rendered stupefied by the possibilities. Someone so obsessed with quantity that questions of quality don’t even register.
What the rest of us find offensive about the THB-world is the unreality of it. It isn’t something we can’t have, but rather something we don’t want. We don’t want to celebrate a world where women and beer are built for mass consumption and “depth” and “character: are taglines.
What craft beer lovers understand, and what the rest of the world is slowly, painfully, coming to see, is that (as the cliche suggests) nothing succeeds like success.
This is a painfully long way of saying that there was nothing at all manly or womanly going on at 3rd Wave recently.
Beerly? There was a TON of stuff going on (more on that next week).
Here’s some more personal stuff:
I’ve lost something on the order of 80 lbs over the last year. It has put people in the awkward position of having to notice and struggle with what to say. It can be awkward.
Similarly, (kinda) 3rd Wave has gone from making ok beer to making fantastic beer; I mean unreal-ly very good, looking forward-to-it, Christ-what’s-next? beer. It isn’t something that needs to be brought up every time I mention them, but it’s an important fact given that my next blog is going to be about their next big step.
The Delmar brewery has more than come into its own in the last few years. It is not a women-owned, trendy-for-now brewery. It the place where locals go to get solid, solid beers. It’s a place they brag about when they are out of town and bring visitors to when they have them. It’s a small town craft brewery that’s helping to change the way we think about beer. And that, in the end, is what I’ve been struggling and failing to get at.