Page 30 - Marlborough Living May June 2019
P. 30

rethink how you percieve beer
Annabel Smith, Beer Sommelier, has worked in the beer and pub industry for almost 30 years. Founder of BeerBelle, she spoke to us recently about the changing beer industry, over a pint of course!
 How has the beer industry changed in the UK over the last 10-15 years?
The beer industry has undergone a seismic change in the last decade
in terms of the choice and style of
beer available. A lot of this has been influenced by the American brewing scene who reinvented old recipes, recreated existing styles and basically threw the rule book out of the window. This has led to brewers experimenting with unusual flavours and brewing techniques which has brought a huge range of beers to our own doorstep. It’s a fantastic time to be in the beer industry, but more importantly for drinkers we have reconsidered how beer is presented (out with the ugly pint pots and in with elegant stylish glassware!) and invested in training and education. Good bar staff are now armed with knowledge about the beers they serve, and the best ones will always be able to recommend a beer to suit your palate.
Beer is slowly starting to shake off its ‘brown and bitter’ image, and become a serious contender to wine.
What are the misconceptions about beer you would like to bust?
The first one is that beer is a ‘man’s drink’. This is a myth that has been perpetuated by years of social and media manipulation. Many women simply don’t try beer because they’ve been told it’s unladylike, or think others will judge them. Luckily, this is changing with the choice of beers available, the way it’s being presented, and how the beer industry markets beer – as a gender neutral product.
Calorie content has always been a contentious issue, with many people believing beer is full of calories: the fear of the ‘beer belly’. Yet beer is 95% water,
it’s made with all natural ingredients, and half a pint of lager has the same calories as a small glass of wine. All alcoholic drinks are calorific, but beer is no better or worse than any other drink!
How can we find out more about local beers and breweries?
A good starting point is the CAMRA Good Beer Guide which is published annually. It lists all the breweries in the UK in regional sections so you can easily find which breweries are in your area.
If you’re looking for a decent beer pub, download a free app called Caskfinder. This uses GPS technology to pinpoint your location and lists the nearest Cask Marque accredited pubs. Best of all it has a pump clip scanner so if you’re not sure what a beer tastes like, or want to know where a beer comes from, just scan the brand clip at the bar and it will tell you all you need to know about that beer.
You’ve been a pioneer as a woman in a male-dominated industry – it must be heartening to see more women in the industry?
The thing is, many people view the beer industry as male dominated. But there have always been female brewers, hop growers, maltsters, sales managers, marketeers and beer writers. They just don’t make a fuss about being a woman in the industry, they get on with their job. So I don’t see myself as a pioneer,
I just make sure a voice is heard on behalf of other women in our industry and hopefully attract more women to the variety of roles that are available.
What I really wanted to change was the perception and preconceptions about beer being a man’s drink. This could be in the form of hosting tutored tastings to introduce women to the different flavours and styles of beer; or calling out brewers
who use sexist imagery to market their beers; or conducting research with women to find out what they wanted to beer industry to do better on their behalf.
About BeerBelle
BeerBelle specialises in developing
and delivering bespoke beer related training courses and events for corporate and consumer clients.
“What I really wanted to change was the perception and preconceptions about beer being a man’s drink.”
Nation Beer Day 15th June

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