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Big push by brewsters to win more women to the pleasures of beer: but easy on hops

Added: Friday, July 20th 2012

There’s a concerted effort underway to win more women to the pleasures of beer. This week saw the launch of Wheat Watchers, a 4.3% raspberry wheat beer, designed to appeal to the growing number of women drinkers. It is the brainchild of Louise Ashworth, the former marketing manager at CAMRA who is now a public relations consultant.

The beer, currently on sale at the Rake, 14 Winchester Street, Borough Market, London SE1, is the result of a competition organised by Jane Peyton of the School of Booze. Entrants were asked to create a recipe for a beer that would be welcomed by women drinkers who, research shows, don’t in the main like beers that are too bitter and hoppy.

The entries were judged by Sara Barton, who runs Brewsters Brewery in Grantham, Lincolnshire. She chose the recipe devised by Louise, who lives in Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire. Louise has long been a fan of wheat beers, the Belgian versions in particular. Sara blended barley and wheat malts with a gentle addition of Cascade and Saaz hops and added a generous amount of raspberries during fermentation. She used a dried wheat beer yeast culture rather than her house yeast. The beer was brewed in May and was conditioned on a bed of raspberry purée until July.

The beer has a fruity aroma of raspberries, balanced by creamy malt and light hop notes. It’s dry in the mouth and the finish, with pronounced raspberry notes, continuing creamy malt and a gentle hint of hops. Louise thinks Wheat Watchers will make an ideal “entry point” for women who are considering trying beer or moving away from mainstream lager. As a result of fermentation, the beer is not sweet, as the sugars from the raspberries turn to alcohol.

The beer is on sale in selected Fuller’s pubs in the Greater London area and the West Midlands. Sara Barton also plans to bottle the beer in bottle-conditioned form.

In Burnley, Lancashire, the fast-growing Moorhouse’s Brewery will stage a special event for women brewers at the brewery on 27 and 28 July. Called the Royal Ladies Beer Fest, Moorhouse’s says the event will be the Beer Ascot and will invite women attending to wear exotic head gear.

The festival will showcase beers from all over Britain brewed by women brewers or “brewsters”. Twenty-five beers will be available, along with Moorhouse’s own ales. On Friday 27 July women visitors will be given a free beer tasting with a talk by beer writer Melissa Cole. There will be conducted brewery tours on Saturday 28 July.

Friday 27 July: 6pm-11pm.

Saturday 28 July: 12 noon-11pm.

Celebrated chef Angela Hartnett visited Shepherd Neame's brewery in Faversham, Kent, to talk about women's role in brewing for a forthcoming BBC2 series, the Great British Food Revival, which is due to be shown in the autumn. Chefs from around the country will investigate forgotten food traditions for the series, which will run for 20 episodes.

Canterbury-born Angela was hosted at Shepherd Neame by head brewer Richard Frost (pictured), who took her through a brew of Spitfire premium bitter. Angela learnt that when sanitation was poor in medieval homes, beer was the safe alternative to water. Brewing was part of the hosehold duties carried out almost exclusively by women. Angela chose some Canterbury Jack for a tasting with a group of women, which will form part of the programme.