More and more women are setting up breweries or becoming head brewers according to the Editor of the 2014 Good Beer Guide published by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale today. The guides Editor, Roger Protz, had this to say on the resurgence of the female brewer,
“It is only in modern times that men have overtaken women as the main brewers of beer, as historically it was women who dominated brewing. Traditionally known as ‘brewsters’, it is fantastic to see more women rejoining the industry and in many cases giving the chaps a run for their money, such as the award winning Brewsters Brewing Company in Lincolnshire.”
In fact one of the most important brewing positions in the UK is now held by a woman following a recent high ranking promotion. Emma Gilleland was this year promoted from Head Brewer at Marston’s to Head of Supply Chain, covering all five Marston’s brewery brands. She believes beer has become more accessible to women in recent years,
“The rise in interest in ales by women is because beer is far more interesting these days. Only ten years ago, the perception would have been that ale was bitter tasting and dark in colour. These days brewers are far more experimental and this has led to lighter beers with new aromas and tastes which are bringing women into the category. Once they have found a beer style that they like, they are hooked.”
Marston’s also employ Genevieve Upton at the Burton brewery and Rebecca Adams at Jennings Brewery, who Emma says are now “coming up through the ranks.”
One female owned and run brewery making a name for themselves nationally is the award winning Mallinson’s brewery. Founded by CAMRA members Tara Mallinson and Elaine Yendall at a small six barrel plant in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, in 2008, they moved to a larger 15 barrel site in 2012 to help meet the growing demand.
“Myself and Elaine set up Mallinsons in 2008 because we selfishly wanted to brew beers we liked to drink. Brewing real ale is a great job, you get to experiment with new hops, rebrew old favourites and hopefully give the people who drink your beer a great pint.” Tara Mallinson, Co-founder of Mallinson’s Brewery.
And it’s not just in the brewing world where women are making a name for themselves; it’s on the other side of the bar too, with Sophie Atherton winning the 2013 Beer Sommelier of the Year award. Sophie, who was the first woman to become a fully qualified beer sommelier in the UK, hosts beer tasting events, often including beer and food matching, but always sharing her love for what she sees as the best drink in the world.
"One of the things I love most about beer is that there's always a style to suit the season, the occasion or just my mood! Whether it's golden summer ales, autumnal reds, or a rich, chocolatey stout or porter by the fire in winter beer's always got something to offer and an incredible range of flavours that means it's a drink everyone can enjoy." Sophie Atherton, Beer Sommelier of the Year 2013.
CAMRA statistics show that the number of women enjoying real ale is on the rise, with women now accounting for 22% of their membership – a growth of 20,000 in the last decade alone. Plus the amount of women trying real ale is also up, from 14% to 34% in the last three years, showing that wider availability and variety of beers is having a positive effect on the number of women giving real ale a go in the pub.
The guide also shows the number of UK breweries to be at a 70 year high and lists breweries across the UK, including the beers they produce, alongside over 4545 real ale pubs.
For more information on the 2014 Good Beer Guide, or to order a copy, visit here
Examples of female brewers around the UK:
- Tara Mallinson, Mallinson’s Brewery - Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
- Sara Barton, Brewster’s Brewing Co - Grantham Lincolnshire
- Emma Gilleland, Marston’s Brewery – Wolverhampton, West Midlands
- Genevieve Upton, Marston’s Brewery – Burton-on-trent, Staffordshire
- Rebecca Adams, Jennings Brewery - Cockermouth, Lake District
- Carola Brown, Ballard's Brewery - Petersfield, Hampshire
- Sue Simpson, Brown Cow Brewery - Selby, North Yorkshire
- Frances Moor, Elveden Brewery – Thetford, Norfolk
- Claire Simpson, Belinda Sutton and Jennifer Everall (three sisters), Elgood’s Brewery – Wisbech, Cambridgeshire
- FFion Jones, Brains Brewery – Cardiff, Wales
- Catherine Murphy, Buntingford Brewery – Royston, Hertfordshire (Buntingford ‘Twitchell’ won Silver in the overall Champion Beer of Britain Competition at the 2013 Great British Beer Festival).
- Petra Wetzel, WEST Brewery – Glasgow, Scotland (West do not produce real ale but Petra Wetzel is German and brews her lagers and wheat beers to the German Beer Purity Law, the Reinheitsgebot).