Where’s the bierebabes?!

Wish I'd seen this for the last blog!

Wish I’d seen this for the last blog!

When I first started writing this blog, I made a conscious decision not to push the whole gender issue. I believe women of the world have enough inequality to worry about and for many their choice of beverage is a minuscule concern compared to other social expectations, threat of violence, the pay gap and so on. In the cozy English world I live in, I am privileged in that I can drink what I want. If you’re a woman and you don’t drink beer because that stupid advert offended you or you think nobody will fancy you and you’ll die alone, grow up. Seriously. In this day and age it’s only the twiggy real ale (see Pump Clip Parade) and boring big brands that use sexist advertising. None of this is relevant to what I drink.

I wanted my blog to be appreciated as a beer blog rather than a feminist statement and I stand by this but then I read Hardknott Dave’s recent controversial blog and was inspired to chip in. The title was ‘Beer Drinking Women Are Not Attractive’ and it turned out too hot for WordPress as he ended up taking it down. Unfortunately I only had the opportunity to skim-read it on my lunch break. I recall that I wasn’t that thrilled about his opinions, but at least he had some opinions which should be perfectly allowed and celebrated as a conversation-starter in this dreary world we live in. I wasn’t that thrilled to learn that he takes such pleasure in observing women in bars drinking beer and judging them on attractiveness. Then I thought about my own behavior at beer festivals and it turns out I can be just as bad – I challenge anybody to say they haven’t. You’ll see if you read on how generous I am about the appearance of the average CAMRA member. It’s what people do. Being looked at by the likes of Hardknott Dave as I sup my beer is the least of my worries as a female beer drinker.

Unfortunately, until recently, the realm of beer drinking just hasn’t been very appealing to women like me. I’ve always favored beer over wine as a social drink to have with friends and with food but I haven’t really felt like I belonged in the ‘pub scene.’  Despite all of its best efforts to modernize, the typical CAMRA chap still appears to be a beer-bellied, red-faced blokey bloke who isn’t accustomed to being nice or helpful to girls. How many women reading this have been elbowed and jostled out of the way at a beer festival bar by these guys, or even simply ignored? Who has had blokey noises made at them about girls drinking pints (I can seldom understand the words over the blokey noise). They can vary in attitude from slightly old-fashioned to downright patronizing. I’ll never forget the CAMRA GBBF where I went to the German bar and asked the server for his finest rauchbier. He was very quick to recommend his most favorite, then quickly started backtracking telling me I wouldn’t like it because the flavor was too strong! Same happened at one of the other bars at the same festival with another style of beer. Funny that my boyfriend doesn’t get the same advice. And then we’ll go back to the pump clips and beers with names that may well have been invented by a pre-pubescent boy. Not a world that’s relevant to me.

OK so ale this rubbish needs shock tactics to boost sales.

OK so ale this rubbish needs shock tactics to boost sales.

Thankfully beer has moved on a bit in recent years. Dave – you’ll find the good-looking girls, along with all sorts of other people at the nice craft bars and festivals. From my experience the real ale scene seems to be stuck with this weird chauvinistic crowd and that’s fine as long as I don’t have to look at it. Don’t get me wrong – I am by no means a beer snob and real ale is not the problem. I have a lot of love and respect for well-made real ale. I can’t speak for every woman out there but the problem with beer for me is the company more than anything. I don’t know what the answer is for the ‘old man pub’ scene but there seems to be a new generation of pubs and bars where everybody is welcome and that’s where you will find the beautiful women, balding men, men who look like their dogs, average women, women with beards, men who just stepped out of an Urban Outfitters shoot, all drinking beer. I’m not going to try to define it but there’s something new happening that’s accessible for all.


Bicycle Belle

Maybe you'll be this happy with coffee?

Maybe you’ll be this happy with coffee?

Hello 2014! A new year, a time for looking towards how we can all be better people in the coming 12 months. Some may have emerged, sickly and bleary eyed on the morning of January 1st and uttered those all too familiar words: ‘I’m never drinking again.’ But here’s the thing. January is a long month. Payday is far away, Christmas has cleaned you out. January is a long, long month. Lets face it, Dryuary is a kick in the gut when you’re already down.

A wise man once said ‘Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it, just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men’s store, a catnap in your office chair or two cups of good hot black coffee.’ These are words I live by to keep myself happy and relatively sane. Sometimes it’s chocolate, sometimes it’s clothes, often it’s beer. If we all just chill out and enjoy our little ‘presents’ in balance with all the other things we need to do, I think we can all be happier and healthier people. I love beer. I drink inappropriately strong beer at inappropriate times of the day. Who cares? I keep a balance, I don’t need to go without the things I love or beat myself up about it. It’s that simple.

You may or may not know that as well as beer I am pretty obsessive about health and fitness and in particular cycling. I cycle commute, I ride a mountain bike, a road bike and in my spare time I do spinning classes and then when I can’t do any of that I have a spare bike ready to go on a turbo trainer at home. My New Year’s motto (ripped off from my new favorite t-shirt) has become ‘ride bikes drink beer get awesome.’ So beer’s supposed to be bad for you? Well, to me, beer and bicycles just make sense. I love beer, I love to ride. I don’t feel guilty about the calories in the beer. I don’t feel like I’m punishing myself when I do what I love to do so I keep fit without really thinking about it.

What more does a girl need?

What more does a girl need?

At the end of a long day in the saddle there is simply nothing better than something cold and hoppy. I’m not alone in this – ride any route in the Great British countryside on a beautiful day (or even a not so beautiful day) and the first pub you encounter with a beer garden will be full of cyclists enjoying a pint. Before you say anything, there is a legal limit of 80mg/100ml in the UK and I assure you a pint will not be a problem. One of my favorite rides last year was 100 miles from Reading to Bristol which rather conveniently ended at Brewdog where I enjoyed possibly the best schooner of Libertine I have ever tasted. I also have fond memories of watching the sun set on a beautiful day zooming around the Isle of Purbeck sitting outside The Lord Nelson with a cold pint of whatever the hell summer ale was on then. The point is, your beer will actually taste even better if you worked for it.

Get on your bike…

Need motivation to get on your bike? There’s nothing like signing up for a group event with a little added incentive…

Spin Up In A Brewery

The Dark Star and Morvello Spin Up will be back for the third year on May 24th. With a road and an off-road route to the brewery from Hove seafront, there’s no excuse not to. If all that sounds like hard work, there will be a pint of Dark Star’s finest waiting for you on arrival along with a barbecue, roller-racing, music, and lots of beer and bike kit for sale. Morvelo will even be offering a generous 15% off their kit so you could even treat yourself to a Dark Star jersey as a souvenir. Don’t worry too much about wobbling back to Brighton as there will even be a coach to return both you and your bike safely to the city.

CTC Brewery Rides

To keep you motivated to carry on riding over winter, national cycling charity CTC have organized a genius series of brewery rides starting at the train station at Great Missenden. So far they’ve been out to Chiltern Brewery for Christmas shopping and a pint but there’s more to come. Join them for a jaunt out to Tring Brewery

Appropriate refreshment?

Appropriate refreshment?

on January 25th or Lovibonds on February 15th.

Lovibonds MTB

If you like the sound of Lovibonds and you’re anywhere near Henley-On-Thames, join Team Lovibonds MTB for off-road adventuring every Sunday morning. You can even look the part in one of their awesome custom jerseys. Maybe you’ll work up a thirst for some of that awesome 69 IPA.

Firkin Challenge

For the past three years the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham has been involved in the Firkin Challenge which raises money for Wooden Spoon. Previous editions have offered a choice of two routes at 100km or 160km and the longer route will take you right up to the highest pub in England at Tan Hill! Both begin and end at the brewery where a celebratory pint will be waiting for you. A date for 2014 has not yet been announced but it’s worth keeping an eye on!

Big Bike Bash

For a more family oriented mountain biking event, the Big Bike Bash is a three-day camping extravaganza packed with races, food, a lake jump (yes it’s a ramp you can ride off into the lake) and, of course a beer festival. Don’t be put off by the shambolic website – the Twitter account promises that they’ll be back for more in 2014.

Be inspired at the velodrome

OK so I don’t think you’ll be doing any actual riding on this one but the annual Manchester Beer & Cider Festival will be taking place right in the middle of the velodrome at the National Cycling Center on January 22 – 25th. Since track-cycling is serious business the velodrome will remain open for practice for the duration of the festival. Whilst there’s no guarantee of who you might see bear in mind that this is the home of Team GB so you never know…. If you’ve never stood in the middle of a velodrome whilst world-class cyclists fly around the track above let me tell you it is awe-inspiring.

Make like Hopworks and get on your bike!

Make like Hopworks and get on your bike!