Caught on the hop

23:43, Jun 11 2014

There has not been much drinking of beer going on this week.

No, I'm not in rehab. Here is hoping my beer consumption never gets to that level.

Instead, I've been sick. 

When it feels like a concrete mixer has poured its contents down your nostrils, tasting beer is the last thing on your mind.

But when lying on the couch at home, full to the brim with green tea and chicken soup, I managed to see something profound on, of all places, the internet. 

I got a new Twitter follower, as you do, and their description reads 'dress like a lady, drink like a man'.


While it can be quite hard to tell on the internet, I'm quite sure this person is a female.

A quick look at their profile showed they enjoy a few beers, including stouts.

But why the description? It seems to say women drinking beers like stout is shameful, odd, just not normal.

Which, of course, is absurd.

The idea that ladies should drink different beers from lads never caught on with me.

Sure, the odd person - from either gender - would often ask me for a ''lady beer'' or ''girly beer'' when I bartended.

And I was always confused, because there is no such thing as girly beer.

Just as men can like the flavours of cherry beer or the taste of banana split evidence in dunkelweizen, women can enjoy a smack around the face from tropical-smelling hops.

I am yet to find a woman who would say no to chocolate, so it is no shock the fairer gender would enjoy a decadent stout or Belgian tripel.

I don't know of anyone touting cider, coffee, tea, water or cocaine that was designed purely because of the shape and location of people's bits.

So why do people do it with beer?

After all, making beer was the job of women until the process got industrialised, something Nicci Peet knows all too well.

A quick trip through the United States turned her on to good beer, before she got her real baptism working at the first BrewDog bar set up outside of Scotland.

From there, she got into blogging about the stuff.

To be specific, her blog is focused on the history of women and beer.

She says her growing interest in beer led her to become more aware of its history.

''I'd never really thought about it before and had assumed it had always been male dominated. 

''I found out I could not have been more wrong. 

''It soon became something I was equally as passionate about as the beer that I drunk, and it has spiralled from there.''

The Bristolian is looking to extend her interest to New Zealand women and beer when she visits here next year.

She says she has been planning on a trip to New Zealand for a couple of years, but ''life just kept getting in the way''.

''When I finally decided on a vague date I started to look at what the New Zealand beer scene had to offer. 

''Despite being a self-described beer snob I soon realised I knew next to nothing about the beer scene and only a handful of the amazing breweries in NZ.

''The more I found out the more interested I became.''

While here, she will undertake a photography project called Caught On The Hop, which will involve documenting women involved in New Zealand's brewing industry.

She has lined up a long list of subjects.

They range from former Liverpudlian Tracy Banner of Sprig and Fern, to Kylie Harris, who used to run the Tui Brewery in Mangatainoka before taking up the head brewer role at Sunshine Brewery.

Peet will even be popping in to Palmerston North to see Michelle Tamehana at Massey University's brewery.

But the big barrier to Peet is cost.

Most photographers these days deal with megabytes and digital files.

Peet, on the other hand, shoots solely in film.

She says she has always liked the ''surprise and uncertainty'' you get with film.

''For me film brings a certain organic quality to the image and a sense of being hand crafted and natural, exactly how I see beer: organic, hand crafted and natural.''

Bringing a suitcase of film to and from the other side of the world is expensive, so she has a Kickstarter going to pool together some cash.

''Because this trip is a mix of me fulfilling a dream to explore New Zealand as well as this photography project, I'm only looking to raise money to cover costs of film for the project.

''The only help I could ask for is to be pointed in the direction of even more interesting women in the industry.''

Yes, she is asking for pounds, but the exchange rate is good.

Be a pal and flick her a few dollars. You'll get something cool in return, even if it is just a digital high five.

And if you see Peet when she is in New Zealand - you may even bump into her at Beervana 2015 - don't ask her if she would like a girly beer.

Hell, don't ask any women if they want a girly beer.

Because beer - like cider, tea, coffee and (I assume) cocaine - will not treat you differently if your bits are on the outside or the inside.

Manawatu Standard