In Colorado, we take our beer fairly seriously. Denver, the "Napa Valley Of Beer," ranks first in the nation in per capita beer production, and second in the number of breweries. We host the big kahuna of American brew competitions, the Great American Beer Fest, in addition to the Brewers Association, and the country's first chief beer officer.
The micro-brew scene we so proudly trumpet emphasizes one thing: brewing good beer. So when we caught wind of an out-of-state beer rooted in the belief that today's beers are manufactured and marketed exclusively for men, we were automatically a bit defensive.
From the outside, there's no question it's the only American beer marketed just for
women chicks. A six pack of Chick Beer comes sheathed in a bright pink holster; a little black purse overlays the pink, rimmed by white pseudo-sequins. The slogan on bottom reads, in a suitably feminine font, "witness the chickness!"
Having never tasted the beer ourselves (and they won't be at Denver's upcoming Great American Beer Festival -- we asked), it's hard to qualify what a woman-specific beer should taste like. We asked Dave, seemingly the company's lone male, how they determined what the fairer gender would rather taste:
I have been a beer, wine and spirits retailer for years. At my store, we sell over 400 beers. Additionally, my wife and I have five daughters, most of whom drink beer. From this experience, we know that most women aged 21-34 (our primary market) drink light beer. Yes, we are aware that some women love Imperial IPAs, and I think we've heard from all of them. We welcome anyone who wants to make a Imperial IPA for women to give that a try.
While Chick Beer's focus groups consisted of Dave's wife, five daughters, and store customers, a recent two-and-a-half year, £1 million Molson Coors study concluded with similar results: women prefer beer that's "less gassy and lighter tasting."
Of the 300 billion cases of beer sold in the United States, roughly 25% (700 million), are purchased by women. Dave thinks this gives Chick Beer significant inroads against established players and craft brewers alike.
Don't get me wrong - we love craft beer. We ARE a craft beer. However, we believe that craft beers have reached the level of market saturation. There are over 1,700 breweries out there, many making great beer. But how many amber ales do we need? How many IPAs?
This is where we have to disagree -- how many american lagers do we need? Having never tasted Chick Beer, we can't be too snarky here, but as a "light lager" (Dave's description), it can't be too different from Budweiser, Coors, Miller, et al. We'd much rather drink "another" amber ale or IPA over a light lager.
As Charlie Papazian, godfather of the homebrew movement (and founder of the Great American Beer Fest) puts it, "It seems quite contrary that if you want to attract anyone to beer -- you offer them something that tastes less like beer."
In a market where even Mike's Hard Lemonade is attempting to up the testosterone appeal, there's no question Chick Beer is unique, and could very well be pretty successful. Still, while a mass-produced women-specific beer has yet to grace our shelves, here's to hoping plenty of ladies stick with good-old-fashioned gender-neutral craft brew.