HARRISBURG—Four panelists shared insights on why women are a critical segment of the craft beer industry at the first Pennsylvania Women in Beer Conference in Harrisburg on Friday, May 1.
Harrisburg Beer Week co-organizer Sara Bozich explored the challenges faced by Brandalynn Armstrong, co-owner of Zeroday Brewing Company in Harrisburg; Sandy Cindrich, co-owner and president of Penn Brewing Company in Pittsburgh; Valerie Delligatti, yeast coordinator at Troegs Brewing Company in Hershey; and Megan Moore, regional sales representative for Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown.
According to the Brewers Association, “women consume about 30 percent of the craft beers on the market, making them one of the strongest market demographics for the industry.” None of the panelists, however, spoke of specifically targeting women as customers.
Armstrong, acknowledging that “women are a huge market for craft beer,” recommended giving “women options to find beers that they want. Women don’t want to be singled out but want to be special. Zeroday markets to the general public,” and is “respectful to everyone.”
Cindrich, who prefers Bock-style brews over flavored beers, said “Penn Brewing is not targeting women” with its beers. “It’s fun to find something to interest everyone to attend events,” such as this year’s 4th Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week, the annual Penn Brewery Festival and the Steel City Big Pours.
Cindrich noted a growing craft beer interest among women as evidenced by “the number of women attending GABF,” the Great American Beer Festival held annually in Denver. Penn Brewing’s beers have won numerous medals at GABF.
Delligatti, a chemical engineer who honed her craft brewing experiences in the Chicago area, came to Harrisburg to take a position at Troegs Brewing in 2014.
“Women enjoy extreme beers,” said Delligatti, noting the emergence of sour beers as “exciting” to the more adventurous female palate.
The conference audience, numbering about 75 men and women, was bemused by Moore’s comment that she “could drink Dirtwolf like it’s water.” Dirtwolf, a double IPA (India Pale Ale), brewed by Victory, is highly regarded among the craft beer world and is “World Class,” according to Beer Advocate magazine. Moore said she “loves the adventure, loves extreme beers, loves craft beer” and is “super passionate” about the craft beer industry.
“We want to make people happy,” she said.
Cindrich drew a laugh when Bozich asked about the biggest challenge facing women in the craft beer industry. “Navigating the Pennsylvania LCB (Liquor Control Board) system,” she quickly replied. She also cited raising two boys as challenging given her busy, but flexible schedule.
“The biggest barrier is ourselves,” Armstrong said. “It’s not about gender, race or religion. Beer spans the gamut. Educate yourselves. You can do it.”
The effort of hearing from women in the industry was important to Bozich.
“This was a one-of-a-kind opportunity to hear from professional women within the craft beer industry, and the audience was captivated by their stories and insight, from how they got their start working in beer to marketing strategies as well as overcoming stereotypes,” she said. “It was an honor to speak with these accomplished women who were so generous to share their time and knowledge.”