My fellow craft beer drinkers, craft brewers, home brewers and all enjoyers of beer. As the first four years of my term as The Beer Babe approaches, it is time to reflect on craft beer. In at time of recession and economic hardship, it is easy to forget the progress that we, as a beer nation, have made in the pursuit of hoppiness and good taste.
Before reflecting on the past four years, I would like to recall the time in our nation’s history in which the free flow of beer was ceased by a national movement against alcohol’s ills, and the number of breweries in the country went from over 1700 to nearly none overnight. Later, sense prevailed to allow for the responsible consumption of alcohol and beer – but it was only in 2010 that we surpassed the number of breweries operating in the US that we boasted pre-prohibition.
Sure, there have been challenges and setbacks in the craft beer industry as a whole. Craft has lost some breweries to macro, there have been legislation passed that limits our freedom of choice and exploration. It’s been harder and harder for new breweries to make it.
But there have also been heartening moments.
Restaurants are working to learn about beer and include it in their menus, pairing dinners and to give it the respect it deserves. Those who are experiencing craft beer for the first time are spreading the word through social media services.
The diversity of beer styles, strengths, and flavors available to craft beer consumers is staggering. There are those that would argue that the US has the best beer in the world – and I would agree. Beer is, after all, America’s favorite alcoholic beverage.
When I began writing about beer in 2007, craft breweries had just crossed the mark of 8 million barrels of beer sold. In 2008, it creeped to 8.4 million, in 2009, craft brewers sold 8.9 million barrels of beer.
But, my fellow craft beerians, in 2010, craft brewers made 8.9 million look small by selling 9.9 million barrels  thanks to those who continue to support and appreciate craft beer.
To put this in perspective, each barrel of beer (bbl for short) is 43 US Gallons of beer. 43 Gallons of beer is 344 pints. So to drink all of the craft beer sold in 2010, you’d have to drink more than three billion beers.
I’ve been told over and over since I started writing about beer that it was a “male dominated” drink and that big beer marketers don’t bother advertising to women because they make up “such a small percent” of the market.
I would like to state, uniquivocably, that the female craft beer market is not a small or ignorable quantity. I’ve heard numbers tossed around that range from 25-30% of all beer consumption is from women, but I’ve never found data on gender and craft beer consumption. The state of women and craft beer is strong, and getting stronger every day.
I cannot give you a specific percentage, but I know that I have seen an increase even in the short four years that I’ve been a beer blogger. I can, however, provide the following evidence of women’s substantial participation in craft beer. There are more women working as brewers than ever before.
Even in these economic times, craft brewers currently provide an estimated 100,000 jobs in the U.S., including serving staff in brewpubs.  Additionally, many brewery jobs are being opened to women that can utilize their more sensitive palates to detect off flavors in beer. 
Through the years I have met many female craft beer drinkers, everyone from passionate evangelists and curious novices. By doing a rough crowd-gender analysis, I’ve noticed that at most of the festivals I’ve attended (and can find crowd photos for) range between 35-50% female in their composition.
In 2007, there were less than 10 female beer writers/bloggers. I have to thank them for paving the way for breaking the gender stereotypes of beer. As of this year, there are more than 50 female beer writers and bloggers, and hundreds of women on twitter that identify as loving or being interested in craft beer.
Citizens of the craft beer union – both men or women – are participating in a movement that is growing in inclusivity, diversity, and breadth. And for one, I couldn’t be prouder to address this craft beer nation.
1: Brewers Association – Beer Facts – http://www.brewersassociation.org/pages/business-tools/craft-brewing-statistics/facts
2: Wall Street Journal – No Glass Celing for the Best Job in the Whole World – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704629804575324503844478326.html