More women are developing a taste for ale, without guzzling three pints and falling over

Sibyl Ruth discovers real ale can be beautiful…

Marverine Cole and Beer BeautyTwenty years back I gave up on beer. It was for old blokes chewing pork scratchings.

For middle-aged men with big guts. Lager-crazy lads with tattoos. Not a smart cookie like me. I’d stick to Chardonnay.

And then I met TV presenter Marverine Cole. She reckons women may not know much about beer, but we’re thirsty creatures. Who like any excuse to meet for a natter. (These days we call it networking.)

Which is why, on Wednesday night, I showed up at the Studio on Birmingham’s Cannon Street. Fifty other women did too. Marverine’s Beer Beauty Launch Event was a sell out.

We got off to a cracking start. It was great to be told beer is part of balanced diet. That it contains fewer calories than alcopops, wine and dark spirits. And we can forget about probiotic yogurt. Beer is a health drink – rich in vitamins and soluble fibre.

Three brewery companies – all based in the region – had come to support Marverine. Women may be half the human race, but we’re responsible for a mere fraction of world beer consumption. This has to change.

Lucie Holden is from the fourth generation of a brewing family. It was her Black Country great-grandmother who started Holden’s ninety years ago. (Great-grandpa was too busy drinking the ale to be much use.)

Emma Gilleland, Head Brewer at Marston’s, reminded us that beer is our national beverage. It’s our duty to ensure we are served a decent brew. If in doubt, we can check the quality by looking and sniffing – not just by the taste.

Paul Halsey, the Managing Director of Purity Brewing Company, believes brand names put some women off. It can hard to go to the bar and ask for a pint of Dog’s Bollocks.

Then we had the tasting session. Now wine buffs are criticised for going over the top. But brewers are no different. When describing their wares Lucie, Emma and Paul got very lyrical. Beers were ‘coppery’ or ‘ruby’. They had ‘floral’ or ‘citrus’ aromas. Tastes could be biscuity, sherbety, chocolatey….

Marverine said, “This event isn’t about guzzling pints and falling over.” But after three beers from each company, it’s a tribute to female strength that everyone remained on their feet. Just a few of us swaying in our high heels…

I want to take beer more seriously. If real ales have daft names, maybe it’s no big deal.

I picture my next girls’ night out.

‘I’d love a Golden Glow. Same for you?’

‘No, make mine a Mad Goose.’

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