In an evening designed to span political divisions, Dea Latis, the industry’s beer and women forum, hosted the first-ever beer tasting designed for women MPs at the House of Commons this week.
A lively crowd of over 50 women (and some brave men) were guests of Charlotte Leslie MP, Meg Hillier MP and Jenny Willott MP who sponsored the event. The group were tasted six beers from around the country with food selected to match each beer style, ably guided by beer sommelier Annabel Smith.
In her introductory speech, Charlotte Leslie suggested that women had the power to re-shape UK drinking habits and that it would be driven by “food and family” – demonstrated earlier by the arrival of Jenny Willott with her two small children to the event.
In her address, Brigid Simmonds, the first female chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, reminded guests that 22% of people taking brewing qualifications were now women. Then Inge Plochaet, chief executive of AB InBev, highlighted some research which showed only 12% of women in the UK drank beer and that this could be as high as other beer drinking nations such as the US and Belgium where rates are around 25%. She urged brewers to rethink their communication strategies to be more inclusive of female drinkers.
Sara Barton, founder of Brewsters Brewery and current Guild of Beer Writers’ Brewer of the Year, ended speeches with her thoughts on how women brewers had brought innovation and diversity to UK brewing.
Speeches over and barring a short interruption while MPs dashed to vote, the room was filled with lots of chatter and appreciative noises for each of the beer and food combinations, which were:
Adnam’s Ghost Ship 4.5%
Southwold, Suffolk served with Mini Cones of Fish and Chips
Butcombe Adam Henson’s Rare Breed 4.2%
Wrington, Bristol served with Chicken Teriyaki bites with Coriander Yoghurt
Marstons Pedigree 4.5%
Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire served with Vegetable Samosas
Brains Bragging Rights 5%
Cardiff, South Wales served with Mini Welsh Rarebit with Green Peppercorns and Mustard
Jennings Snecklifter 5.1%
Cockermouth, Cumbria served with Baby Cumberland Sausage with Wholegrain Mustard Mayonnaise
Ilkley Holy Cow Cranberry Milk Stout 4.7%
Ilkley, West Yorkshire served with Mini Roast Beef in Yorkshire Pudding with Horseradish Cream
Dea Latis was founded in 2010 by a group of women working in the beer and pubs industries and now has over 160 supporters including brewers, beer tasters, marketeers, licensees, writers and bloggers. The group meets several times a year to network, share ideas and enjoy good beer and food.