Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

Megan Greenwood is the founder and owner of Greenwood Brewing Company in Phoenix, Arizona. She started her career as an engineer but began her brewing journey at home in 2014. Greenwood champions female beer drinkers, brewers, artists, stand-up comedians and non-profits at her female-designed taproom in downtown Phoenix. In this edition of Voices In Food, Greenwood talks about the lack of female representation in breweries around the country, and how beer marketing and drinking needs to be more inclusive of women.

I like to say that most, or all, women are beer drinkers; they just don’t realize that they enjoy beer. It’s traditionally been a masculine beverage, which is why we associate it with men, but it is absolutely a woman’s drink. There are a lot of women who consider beer their alcoholic beverage of preference.

When I would go out and have beers with my friends, I was automatically stereotyped — and continue to be — for the style of beer that I like to drink. So, for example, my husband loves beer; the more colorful, the better. I like a traditional beer, a great classic Pilsner, or a hoppy IPA, but my husband likes artificially flavored fruit beers. So, whenever we go somewhere, I automatically get served his fruit beer. It’s years and years of a culture that has been ingrained in our minds that women prefer a certain thing and men prefer a certain thing, and that’s just not something that we can generalize.

I began Greenwood because I didn’t feel like women were seen as consumers of beer. I did a survey of 200 women to understand how they felt about beer, and all the women absolutely love this product, but no brewery is thinking about them. Over 97% of brewing companies are owned by men, and 77% are owned exclusively by men. Around 3% of brewing companies are owned by women.

“I couldn’t get a single bank to take me seriously; that was the problem. I probably talked to 50 banks in Arizona. I couldn’t even get them to go from a phone call to an in-person meeting.”

– Megan Greenwood

When I was starting the brewery in 2017, I was Google searching “women and beer” images and “men and beer” images. “Men and beer” images were just men casually drinking beer at a table and connecting with friends. Google images of “women and beer” were mostly women in bikinis holding a beer or women in lederhosen serving a beer. And obviously, those are the only two outfits women wear when they are drinking beer.

What was fascinating was all the masculine marketing around beer and how the only women involved in beer are those serving it. That sentiment has shifted a little bit, but it’s still pretty common to see beer marketing with only men and beer products created with only men in mind.

We have women coming in every day saying they were told they should try something light but didn’t like it. So, what we do at Greenwood is make a wide variety of styles, and they’ll find something they like with us.

Other breweries in our guild thought it was a fad that I was going to get over. But I don’t think they realized that women were the complete intention of my business. That’s why we exist, to focus on a female consumer. But we don’t not include men. We make beer for everybody; we love men. I just am inspired by women.

We just came out with our new slogan, “women-owned, women-inspired, real beer for all.” So, we make elevated traditional beer, but I will say our marketing is feminine. We like to put a honey sugar cinnamon rim around our pumpkin-spiced beer. We collaborated with a tea company last year, and the beer was served with honey and rose petals on the side, so that’s kind of feminine.

Back when I was trying to start Greenwood, I couldn’t get a single bank to take me seriously; that was the problem. I probably talked to 50 banks in Arizona. I couldn’t even get them to go from a phone call to an in-person meeting. I think that it was a combination of my voice sounding feminine and young and youthful that nobody took me seriously enough to think that this was a good opportunity for them.

It took a woman who worked for a bank in Atlanta, Georgia, who was young and a beer drinker. She was a badass and a hard worker who made deals happen. She saw my vision, she understood what I was doing, and she fought for our business and was able to help me secure a loan.

Now, when you walk into my tap room at, like, four o’clock on Friday, it’ll be a whole bar full of women finishing their day on their computers. It’s really rare to see that. We try to create an extremely welcoming space where women feel included. We get the comments all the time that they can tell this space was designed by a woman. Our customers often say to us that they love what we’re doing, it’s filling a gap, and they love the inclusivity of it.

My professional goal would be to be the preferred beer of women. But eventually, I hope we don’t even need to have such loud marketing because women are already feeling included, and beer just becomes a more equal beverage.

This is really important to me because my past experiences have been in overwhelmingly male-dominated industries where women could do the exact same thing. Maybe they don’t know about it, or maybe it wasn’t something that they were taught. And so I want to empower women to be at the table.

Women grow with encouragement. I love to think that’s what we embody: encouragement for female growth in general. There’s no question that women are champions of beer.

By admin

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