I've always been perplexed by the stereotype that women just don't like beer very much. The stat I hear most often – which I quoted in my post about Teri Fahrendorf – is that only about 30 percent of American women prefer beer to either spirits or wine. Of course, if I were asked the question that way, I'm not sure which of the three I would choose myself. Wine has always intimidated me a little bit, because while good wines can be had at any price point, the quality and flavor varies year to year, and getting really, really into wine seems to require more disposable income than I have. Liquor is, well, quick, and a well-balanced cocktail is a beautiful thing, but can also come with a hefty price tag. With beer, there's enormous variety; while lots of breweries do special seasonals that vary year to year, or super small-batch brews that are both tasty and a little expensive, there's a remarkable consistency and affordability to beer, and it's likely I spend the bulk of my booze allowance on it.
I see plenty of other ladies at brewpubs, beer-forward bars and beer tastings I go to, but the conventional wisdom is that I'm a rarity. I wondered what, if any, actual research had been done on women's purchasing and tasting habits where suds are concerned. So I chatted with Ginger Johnson, the founder of Women Enjoying Beer, a southern Oregon-based business that does qualitative research and marketing for beer companies, as well as educational events for women interested in beer. Johnson told me she started the company because she ran across the same problem I did: "There's not a lot of stats. There's stereotypes," she said.
That many nonhuman animals seem to have a taste for alcohol is often used as support for the claim that the desire for intoxication is universal, though some stories—like those about elephants getting drunk on fermented marula fruit—have been disputed by scientists, who note elephants actually eat marula fruits fresh, and that it would take a lot of fruits to give an elephant even a slight buzz.