In January 2012, we proudly raised our beer glasses to toast several pioneering female brewmasters who are tirelessly working to make women a more robust, recognized and respected force in the beer industry. These are women who are brewing and fermenting beer, an ancient art first attributed to females, with stellar skills at the highest possible quality for ALL beer drinkers to enjoy. What we didn’t know then was that something called Chick Beer – a light, low cal, and less bloat-causing beer for women – was brewing at almost the very same time, attempting to infiltrate the same shelf space as these truly empowered female brewers.
Seemingly the antithesis of what the women brewmasters we were celebrating represented for the male dominated beer industry, Shazz Lewis’s Chick Beer first launched on the adult beverage scene in the summer of 2011.
Made exclusively for women, their bottles came tightly wrapped in a slinkly, pink label bedazzled with bling and featuring the unmistakable hourglass shape of a woman in a “little black dress” complete with an embellished sweetheart neckline. The “Fun! Fabulous!! Female!” six-pack that Ms. Long Neck and her 5 girlfriends got toted around in was designed to resemble a woman’s purse.
Considering all that, we were out. Yes… we were judging a book (or, in this case, a beer) by its cover. We didn’t want to know more, we didn’t want to “Witness The Chickness” as the bottle demanded, we didn’t care if the beer was even good or that it was brewed at the second-oldest brewery in America. Why? Because this whole idea of making and marketing a beer exclusively for women using clichés and stereotypes just feels super lame, not to mention lazy.
It’s now three years later, and we decided to take another look at the brand, and it seems they have gone through a bit of an evolution…
Chick Beer’s original “Fun! Fabulous!! Female!” tagline has been refined to, “A sophisticated, socially responsible craft beer. A beer for Women.” Their labeling has also undergone a makeover with the brand’s signature “LBD” being swapped for a woman face casting a “blue steele” glare, as her long locks blow in the wind. It’s kind of reminiscent of Duran Duran’s 1982 Rio album cover, no?
The new label and six-pack packing read “Make Your Mark,” which is certainly a far cry from “Witness The Chickness.” And Ms. Lewis is now attempting to coax us gals into drinking her lady beer with a battle cry that has a calculated level of empowerment built right in, “Because as all women know… CHANGING THE WORLD IS HARD WORK.”
Changing the world IS hard work, so we wonder why this entrepreneur is working so hard to feed into the idea that women who like beer only want light beer; one with light carbonation so we feel less bloated (and don’t burp), and one without bitterness, which she says is “a flavor characteristic in beer that men tend to value, but that most women do not.” None of those things are necessarily bad, but we don’t buy that they represent the one, single beer flavor profile that appeals to most women, as Chick Beer claims.
While we applaud Shazz for choosing the name Chick Beer in an attempt to turn the phrase’s typical negative connotation (e.g. ‘light’ beers are often referred to as ‘chick beers’) into something positive for women, and think it’s awesome that she’s building a brand dedicated to women supporting other women (5% of all Chick Beer profits are donated to women-centric charities), in looking at the sum of her parts (flashy packaging and transparent marketing ploys), we fear she’s missed the empowerment mark she set out to achieve.
Since all female palates are not created equal, we say if you love beer, drink the beer that tastes good to you.
At the end of a hard day’s work, none of us need to be holding a certain type of beer to feel empowered… a woman’s work should speak for itself. Cheers!