Boys, Leave the Beer Tasting to the Ladies


Today, the Wall Street Journal discusses an interesting turn of events in the old playground battle of Girls v. Boys. It seems that while men drink the most beer, women are the best drinkers, or, at least, the best tasters of what they drink. A few years ago, British company SABMiller, which makes Pilsner Urquell, Peroni, Grolsch, Miller, and Coors, invited “marketers, secretaries, and others” (a/k/a women) to try out their brews. To their surprise: “We have found that females often are more sensitive about the levels of flavor in beer,” says Barry Axcell, the company’s chief brewer.

This probably shouldn’t come as news, since women are more sensitive, as a rule, to dirty socks on the floor and decades of perceived slights, but beer-makers had long thought that because men drank beer more, they must taste beer better. Which seems counterintuitive, but then, woman here! Anyway,

Today, 30 percent of SABMiller’s 1,000 advanced-level tasters are female, Mr. Axcell says. The number of women tasters has roughly quadrupled in 10 years.

Also, women tend to see shades of colors whereas dudes just see red and brown, and some scientists say that women, what with our physiological lady powers, have a better sense of smell than men. So the actual surprise is why 70 percent of beer-testers are still XY instead of XX. (Purely statistically speaking, it seems that the Journal‘s headline “No Glass Ceiling for the Best Job in the World” may be a bit of a misnomer.) Chalk it up to us gals being so freaking hard to please?

If you do manage to get the job, life as a beer tester isn’t all the hoots and hollers you might think. Some of these poor women have become positively plagued with social difficulties, like friends who don’t want to drink with them since they’re always criticizing the beer. Call it a side effect of the profession. Still, sniffing and swilling and swigging is probably less strenuous than bartending, depending on where you work.