– by Wendy Morley –
As a woman who enjoys a good quality beer, I was excited to hear about the Society of Beer Drinking Ladies when it first came into existence a couple of years ago. I have written a considerable amount about quality spirits and wine, but until this point precious little about beer. I jumped at the chance to gain more knowledge and taste beers I might otherwise not encounter.
The organization had its first “Bevy,” or craft beer-drinking get-together, soon after, and has had on average about one per month since then. The evening starts off with women alone, and men are invited to join later on if they wish. Following, my interview with Jaime Dobbs and other founding members.
WM: In my mind, a bunch of you were sitting around enjoying beer together and had a brainstorm “Hey wait, there have to be more women like us!” (sip) “Let’s create something! We’ll meet awesome women and we’ll all get to have great beer!” How did it really go down?
SOBDL: We did all sit down together to have a beer but the intention of our meet-up was to create a space for women to get together and drink craft beer in the company of other women. We’ve all been a part of the craft beer industry for years now and that’s how we met. We knew there were a lot of beer-loving ladies in and out of the industry that would appreciate a group like this.
WM: Is this a huge trend? Are women becoming especially interested in beer?
SOBDL: Women have always loved beer. It’s a common misconception that beer is a man’s drink. The attendance at our events proves this idea is simply not reality. If women are becoming more interested in beer, we’d say it’s because the selection of craft beer is expanding and, just like men, we are excited to taste all the unique and interesting brews coming out of this booming industry.
WM: Is there a specific age/income/race demographic here, or is it all over the map?
SOBDL: We get all kinds of ladies at our events. One of the greatest visuals at our “bevy” is to look around the room and see ladies from all walks of life chatting and making friends. And, to have it all center around craft beer is a fantastic bonus.
WM: Do men usually show up after, or is it pretty much a woman thing?
SOBDL: The women really do own the event but we always get a few men showing up at midnight; some nights more than others. And we have a tradition now of opening the doors to men two hours earlier than usual just on Halloween.
WM: What do the women who attend get out of it?
SOBDL: Your ticket gets you your first beer, access to our one-off “Bevy Brew” (a beer brewed just for the bevy, never to be tapped or brewed again), a morning-after gift – this changes every month but is generally a tongue in cheek hangover cure. (Candy, pretzels, crosswords, coconut water, crackers, etc.) and lastly, they get the experience of the bevy, drinking craft beer with 200 other like-minded women. You really have to attend to fully understand it but we’ve been told repeatedly what a great vibe the events have. Everyone is very welcoming, new friends are made easily and dance parties break out quite regularly.
WM: What do breweries get out of it?
SOBDL: Breweries get their beer in front of 200 ladies who are avid fans of beer or are just starting to learn about the wonderful world of beer. We also host a link to the breweries on our website and tweet about them on our social media.
WM: Have you seen growth since you began?
SOBDL: Yes! We gain followers on social media and our mailing list every day and although we have a solid group of regulars attending every month, we also get a ton of newcomers every month. The bevy often sells out in a few days and on occasion, in just a few hours.
WM: Have you had to change venues because of growth?
SOBDL: We’d intended to do our first event in Jaime’s apartment! Upon selling 50 tickets in just a few hours we realized we’d need a much bigger venue. And we’re always looking for great new venues.
WM: Are you doing anything like partnering up beer and live music? (I’m thinking of Collective Arts Brewery)
SOBDL: This was something we considered in the initial brainstorm but after executing a few bevies we realized there was nothing else like the SOBDL at this scale; we decided to not mess with what was working so well. That’s not to say that in the future we wouldn’t be open to exploring new formats.
WM: Where do you go from here?
SOBDL: We’d love to see SOBDL expand into other cities one day and we’ve certainly seen the demand for it. In the coming year we plan to get out to more festivals and really get the word of the SOBDL out to more beer-drinking ladies.
WM. Do you know of other organizations like yours? Do you guys communicate?
SOBDL: Yes! A lot of them have attended the bevies! The craft beer industry is very supportive and collaborative.
For more information, go to www.ladiesdrinkbeer.com