I served as guest blogger for North Carolina’s Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership to promote women in home-brewing and the Homebrew for Hunger festival. This article was published on the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership blog.

Back in July, Molson Coors manufacture announced plans to sell lady-friendly beer: pink-tinted beer complete with a pretty label and a fruity taste.

It was insulting. However, I can only presume the marketing geniuses who came up with that brilliant campaign were a bunch of “Mad Men” trying to compensate for the fact that women only represent 17 percent of their customer-base. If one were still allowed to drink Scotch and puff on cigars and cigarettes in a boardroom, I could just imagine a scruffy, young gent, leaning back in his chair between puffs, being quite proud that this women-beer would be ‘bloat resistant.’

Evidently word has not gotten to this corporation that the beer-tide has turned toward craft brews with an emphasis on supporting local breweries. Both men and women alike are turning away from the watered-down taste of a commercial beer that not only lacks flavor but also authenticity and character.

However, I digress. Around the time of the Molson Coors announcement, my friend Chela Tu and I decided to enjoy a summer’s day with some hiking and swimming. We ended the outing, spent from our fun, by sharing a beer and watching the sunset.

Having spent the last few years cultivating my beer tastes with North Carolina craft brews, my sophisticated palate was pleasantly surprised by the smoky flavor of the Rauchbier Chela brought.

“Damn, this is good,” I remarked. “Thanks,” Chela said. “I made it.”

Chela had recently started brewing her own beer and was looking for a brewmate. She asked if I wanted to learn how to brew, and I sure did!

The following weekend, I went over to Chela’s house which had been transformed into something akin to a chemistry lab, with smoky cauldrons, tubes and bottles, and handwritten formulas strewn about. Peering up from her homebrew textbook, Chela started spouting off instructions and ingredients while computing mathematical equations to generate the perfect beer-quality ratio. I listened and sampled from her previous experiments. Jalapeño-ginger ale was just one concoction I enjoyed.

Let me tell you, this chick makes some good beer.

Our plan was to brew a beer for the Homebrew for Hunger Beer Festival which took place last Saturday at the West End Public on Franklin Street.  The first of its kind and organized by Janel “J” Beckham and Ethan Johnston, the festival was a benefit for The Food Bank of Eastern and Central North Carolina. Not to exclude our area’s fine professional brewers, Erik Lars Myers from Mystery Brewing in Hillsborough, Jon Connolly from Carolina Brewery in Chapel Hill and Pittsboro, and Sean Lilly Wilson and Chris Davis from Fullsteam Brewery in Durham were the event’s featured panelists to homebrewers some professional advice.

Chela came up with the idea to brew a beet-flavored beer. First, we roasted the beets in the oven and then added the extracted juice (from a juicer) after the boil. It was a Golden Strong Ale and a play on the fact that Belgium beers use beet sugar for fermentation. Candied sugar rocks were also added during the boil. Of course, if you are a fan of eating beets, you are probably not surprised to read that the beer came out … pink.

If women are underrepresented as beer consumers, it shouldn’t be shocking to learn women are sparsely found in the world of homebrewers. At Saturday’s event, there were definitely a couple of ladies present but most were accompanied by a male significant other. Chela and I were the only female brewing team in a sea of men … which wasn’t a bad predicament for two young, single gals, mind you!

What was surprising, and probably contrary to Molson Coors’ market research, was how much the guys took to our pink beer! And soon, the word spread. Men flocked to our table to sample the pink “Beeted Up” beer from Tubru.

“Oh, this is good.”

“Yum, it’s sweet!”

“I don’t even like beets, but I’d drink this.”

“Is this nutritionally good for me?”

These were just a few comments I heard throughout the evening. My favorite was from the guy that drug his wife to our table for a taste.  “She’s always trying to get me to eat beets in my salad. This is a good comprise, right?” he asked while pointing to his unamused wife.

Although Chela and I were not chosen as the crowd’s favorite, our pink beer got so much attention from the male-dominated audience, that we were featured in the event’s write-up on NC Brewing.

And who knew that men love chocolate in their beer so much! Chocolate stout was a staple among the homebrewers. Lots of yummy chocolate-flavored beer: Chocolate and toffee. Chocolate and peanut butter. Chocolate and whisky. Milk and cookies, chocolate beer!

I could go on, but you’ll just have to taste it for yourself at the next homebrew festival!

Hopefully, Homebrew for Hunger will organize again for this spring. The event was clearly a success, as almost $6,000 was raised for The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina to distribute 25,633 meals. Organizers said it’s the equivalent to three meals a day for 8,544 people. The event also collected approximately 200 lbs of food which will be distributed to the area’s food-insecure families.

In the meantime, Molson Coors should nix the sexist, lady-beer and go back to the boardroom to develop a brand that would really appeal to their loyal consumers. I’d like to recommend a Reese’s-Peanut Butter flavor, as men sure do seem to love their chocolate.

However truth-be-told, I’d think twice about the man who ordered a commercial, mild-tasting lager. Manly men drink craft brews, especially North Carolina brews, but real men brew their own … and so do real women.