I do realise that, at a time when there are pretty serious things going on for women (bearing the brunt of the recession in terms of unemployment, for example), it probably is a bit silly to get riled up over a 'lady beer'. But I am.
To combat falling sales, brewer Molson Coors – the manufacturer behind the popular brand Carling – is launching a new product in the UK that is "lightly sparkling and finely filtered with a delicious, fresh taste" (sounds alright so far), which "will be available in three variants: clear filtered, crisp rosé and zesty lemon."
Oh, er... yum? Sorry, what was that I ordered? Was it a beer? Or a pink wine? G&T?!
Called Animée (sounds more like a French parfum, non?) the beer was developed specifically for women, following two years and £1m worth of research. Apparently, the answer to we girls only making up around 17 of women are beer drinkers. So really, it's not like we are allergic to it or anything.
But the research concluded that UK women, with their delicate palates, perhaps find the bitterness a bit too much. Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor's Product Launch Analytics, said to Beverage Daily "beer is not as sweet as wine or flavoured alcohol beverages," (er, duh) and "there is no doubt that beer can be an acquired taste."
Oh, a bit like coffee perhaps? Sorry, please continue: "From the beer industry's perspective, manufacturers may be looking at the beer market and wondering why there cannot be a more even gender split, like there is for wine."
Really? Are they really wondering why? You don't need to be an expert in semiotics to know that beer has always been marketed squarely at men (just think of every single lager or beer ad you've ever seen – even Melanie Sykes' stint with Boddingtons was clearly one for the boys). And now that sales are falling across the board, this seems like a scrambling effort to bore a hole into a massive market they have essentially ignored since the year dot.
Personally, I don't think they're going about it quite the right way. To me, saying their new product "aims to dispel the perception among women that all beers look and taste the same and that there is nothing to tell them apart" is just patronising. Why not just take their proven product, grovel a bit, and start saying to women: 'this is for you too'?
I don't know, I'm probably wrong. It's probably the best idea since the Pret Breadless Sandwich (!). If their plan turns into goldmine, perhaps I will launch my own drink – a particularly manly brand of white white, flavoured with pork scratchings and dart board chalk dust. And I shall call it... 'Balls'.