This week: a disturbing new trend in beer. Indeed, so disturbing, you might say that I’m mad as hops about it.
In many countries, the ratio of male to female beer drinkers is roughly equal. In Germany, of all places, women apparently regard beer as unhealthy and unsophisticated. They even worry it might be fattening, possibly misunderstanding the term stout. Responding to this, German brewer Karlsberg decided to make a beer especially for women.
The brew is a mix of beer and fruit juices, and it has an alcohol content of one percent. One version of it has lemon balm, a sedative. Another has soy lecithin, and folic acid, among other things, and is supposed to be good for you. So good, in fact, the brewer is marketing the drink through … pharmacies.
Beer drinkers of the world, say it with me now: This is just wrong.
First, let’s start with the premise. If brewers want to sell more beer to women, they might try actually advertising to women. Here in North America, all the beer ads are targeted at one group: the 21-year-old male. That is, the ads feature scantily clad babes, extreme sports, scantily clad babes, dorm life, scantily clad babes, and sophomoric humour.
This is silly because:
1) You do not have to advertise to a college student. He knows all about beer and doesn’t give a rat’s patoot about brand, or whether it was cold-filtered, or the shape of the bottle. All this demographic wants is beer that is A) cheap and B) plentiful.
2) I know these ads exist because I, a female, have seen them. They are played during sporting events, movies and TV shows where advertisers apparently believe have exclusively male audiences.
Marketers might try making ads that show family barbecues involving beer (okay, maybe not one where Uncle Larry gets drunk and fights), or that show women in pubs enjoying a pint or even demonstrating the best beer and meal pairs (appealing to wine drinkers of both sexes). At the very least, they could show some scantily clad hunks, for, ahem, you know, equal time.
Second, anything with an alcohol content of 1% isn’t beer, even by American standards. Mixing fruit juice with beer is okay (a nice Belgian cherry beer comes to mind), but adding sedative sounds like a good way to fall asleep into your schnitzel. And adding folic acid sends out contradictory messages — to whom are they trying to sell this beer, pregnant women?
Speaking of children, a Japanese company has begun marketing beer to … kids. It’s non-alcoholic, so we don’t (yet) have to worry about setting up rehab programs at the local daycare. However this does raise some interesting questions.
On one hand we might ask if, by allowing our kids to wear make-up and revealing clothes, and handing them “beer” we’re making them grow up too fast. On the other hand, if they get all of the accoutrements of “adulthood” before they’re nine, and before they have the accompanying responsibilities, will they bother growing up at all?
And what’s next, street legal miniature cars? Lowering the voting age? Actually this might not be a bad idea. At least when they’re little, you can still make them do their homework and review the platforms of the various candidates to make an informed decision. This is more than you can do with an adult voter. Also, kids are great at asking embarrassing questions, which might put politicians, er, over the barrel.
Anyway, I digress and I should go — my husband has just read this column over my shoulder, muttered something about a pint being a fine idea, and is headed toward the fridge; I need to defend my stash. Meanwhile, my message to brewers is this: do not make female beer. Do not make child beer. Just make good beer.
That, more than anything else, will cure whatever ales your bottom line.