Brewing was the domain of women


A woman's work is never done

Don Kavanagh

Source - 

Brewing always seems to be associated with blokes.

It's a typically blokey thing: it involves a combination of light engineering and biochemistry, involves using tools and the end product is beer, so it's understandable it tends to be associated with men.

However, it wasn't always thus.

The Scientific American carried a fascinating article about the archaeology of brewing that went back to the Sumerians, around 4000BC. Not only did they write poems to beer, but they had a goddess of beer. And rightly so, given brewing was the domain of women in Sumerian culture.

Only relatively recently has brewing became a mostly male domain. Throughout Celtic, Roman, Saxon, and medieval societies, women made the beer, the only notable exception being the odd monk. In the 1700s, around 80 per cent of brewers were women. The Industrial Revolution took brewing from cottage to factory and from women to men. But women tend to have better palates than men and are more willing to try new flavours. It's no coincidence that the wine industry is driven by the buying decisions of women and also that it is full of women winemakers.

There are women brewers but we tend not to hear very much about them - often because they are part of a larger team at a big brewery, or because they brew for tiny labels, but maybe it's time they came out from behind the fermenters and took their place in the limelight.