- Beer has historically been a man's domain, made and distributed by men for male customers with advertising that reflects that assumption of gender. But now more women are getting into the craft brewery business.
- Women are taking their place, not just as employees in craft breweries, but as heads of companies, sometimes in partnership with their husbands or after taking over for their fathers.
- They are attuned to what appeals to their female customers, who are drawn to the flavors of craft beer.
And some are stepping into their father's shoes in taking over a family business.
Leah Wong Ashburn's father, Oscar Wong founded Highland Brewing and built it up into a regional operation selling beer in nine states. Ashburn is now the company's vice president for marketing and is poised to take her father's place as president in October. She admits that men still make up most of their customers, but women are also making buying decisions about beer, just as they do about other products they pick up at grocery stores. She observes, "Their palates seem to be more sensitive than men's, and they are enjoying the flavors and nuances that they can get from craft beer." Erica Nelson, who handles quality analysis and quality control at Highland Brewing concurs. It is her responsibility to manage "sensory panels" for the beer flavors and aromas. "It's a tough job, but I think that women can pick up on the flavors better," she said. The rising popularity of craft beer has another effect here, that of equal opportunity for women.