Recent research into British drinking habits has revealed that only 23% of women had tried real ale in a pub, compared with 71% of men. Before the previous 100% Naturale campaign the figures were 21% of women and 58% of men.
Amongst the reasons given are that they think it's `old fashioned', because it isn't promoted to them, and even because they think it will make them fat! The most common reason, though, was that their friends don't drink it. One in five women would try real ale if it were served in more stylish and fashionable glasses - almost a third of adults thought that women who drank from pint glasses were `unfeminine', and one in five thought it `undignified'. [The editor would just like to make it absolutely clear that he is most certainly not part of either group!]
So there is clearly a large market to be tapped to help reverse the decline in the UK beer market, if only the message could be got across. Marketing real ale in a way that wasn't unimaginatively `laddish' and derived from the way lager is promoted could attract 22% of women, for starters!
So enter (or should that be re-enter?) Ninkasi, the Sumerian goddess of beer, who supposedly created the recipe for beer some 4,000 years ago. CAMRA hopes that she will provide a powerful icon for female real-ale drinkers and encourage brewers to present real ale in a way which appeals to women as well as men.
Whether or not Ninkasi succeeds in overturning many female prejudices
against real ale, only time will tell.
But as this picture shows, she certainly appeals to the Cambridge Beer Festival Organiser!