Lady homebrewers break into male-dominated hobby

Lady homebrewers break into male-dominated hobby »Play Video

EUGENE, Ore. -- Two years ago, Sandy Beal was a trauma surgeon at Sacred Heart Medical Center.

But when it came time to retire, Beal ditched the scrubs and for some thirst quenching suds.

"I've been homebrewing for two years now," said Beal. "Before I brew, I sit down and write out exactly what I expect in terms of specific gravity, temperatures and volumes."

A true scientist at heart, Beal follows a detailed and carefully calculated recipe for her style of homebrew beer.

Beal is one of five female brewers who shared their tricks of the trade at the second annual Women Teach Women to Brew Beer event at Oakshire Brewing in Eugene.

The event is sponsored by the Cascade Brewers Society.

Homebrewer Nicole Jarvis said the event can help women break into a male-dominated hobby.

"Hopefully people can come here and learn something new," said Jarvis. "The interesting thing is that it was the women who were the brewers in the home. Back when the women churned the butter, they also brewed the beer."

Jarvis' husband is also a homebrewer. Matthew Jarvis said while that may have been the tradition in early American history, there's a new modern tradition taking form.

"Beer tends to be a guy's thing with the football games, the barbecues, standing around the grill and things like that," said Matthew Jarvis. "But now some of the best brewers in the Cascade Brewers Society are women."

According to one beer organization, men drink more beer than women, but that's changing. The organization reports that women now account for 30 percent of beer consumed in the US -- a number that has grown over the years.

While some female brewers said they're happy to be part of that trend, others said their passion for beer simply comes down to the basics.

"I've always liked beer," said Sandy Beal. "It's just a lot of fun and I think you can make a whole lot better beer than I think you can get in the bottles at the store, and it's cheaper."