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Where Are All the Women Brewers?

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I worship at the altar of Ninkasi (Sumerian goddess of beer), and water + malt + hops + yeast = beer; is my favourite mathematical equation, so I am really excited about the renaissance of beer making in Britain.

It's a golden age for brewing with more than 840 breweries beavering away to produce our national drink.

But my elation was slightly muted when I worked out how many of those breweries had female brewers. Less than 2%.

Such an irony considering women were the original brewers of beer, at least 7,000 years ago, and for the majority of those millennia women were the primary brewers.

Beer is food, a beverage that was consumed as part of the daily diet and women were in charge of food production. But 79% of women in Britain never or rarely drink beer.

Why? Beer is a natural product, packed with nutrition and in moderation has proven health benefits. It is much lower in alcohol than wine or spirits, measure for measure has fewer calories than wine and the connection with beer and bellies is a myth!

The trouble is, in Britain, beer is perceived by many women as being 'blokey', bitter flavoured, fattening, and not for them.

But beer is a drink for all, with over 100 different styles, from light spritzy refreshing quenchers, to dense and dark Imperial Stouts. Somewhere in that plethora of flavours there is a beer for the dissenters. And as well as being delicious, convivial, and making people happy of all alcoholic drinks, it is the most healthful. But to encourage more women to brew and drink it, we need more women to brew and drink it.

How to stop the dog chasing its own tail? What about a competition for women to invent their own beer recipe? And whoever wins will brew their recipe with professional brewer, Sara Barton of Brewsters Brewery. If it tastes good it may go on sale through Brewsters' outlets. That's exactly what I'm doing. I'm running a competition open to women everywhere to devise their perfect beer.

To make this competition even tastier, entrants will take inspiration from Britain's leading producer of Fairtrade chocolate, Divine, and devise a beer recipe inspired by one of their brands. Sexual stereotyping? Mea culpa! But desperate measures are necessary to change some women's perception of beer, and if they realise that many beers are an amazing match for chocolate, it may tempt them to give beer a chance.

So why not become a 21st century goddess of beer and enter the competition to brew Ninkasi's Nectar. We want to hear from you. Click here for the details, or email ninkasi@school-of-booze.com for details.

Having dreamt about brewing for so long I am putting my beer where my mouth is and joining forces with two other beer-tastic female friends - Marverine Cole and Shea Luke to brew our very first beer at Brewsters Brewery.

It will be bottled soon after. I can imagine myself in my beer lair, surrounded by bottles of the (hopefully) magical brew deciding whether to be selfish and keep it all for myself, or share the love and give it away to female beer foes with a bar of Divine Dark Chocolate with Orange & Ginger, then wait for the enchantment to strike.

Or maybe I'll throw a party and we'll raise our glasses to those unknown women who first realised that fermented water and malt was extraordinary. Want to come?

Happy New Beer!

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