Beer has long been considered a boys’ club beverage — especially when it comes to craft beers — but times are changing and more and more women are hopping on the hops train.
Just ask Lauri Spitz, Long Island’s only female brewer. For Ms. Spitz, beer is not just a passion, it’s her livelihood. She and her husband, Matt, plan to open Moustache Brewing Company in the Polish Town area of Riverhead this fall. Her commitment is also the driving force behind the Long Island chapter of Girls’ Pint Out, a national organization aimed at bringing women together to enjoy and to learn about craft beer.
The organization started in Indianapolis, Ind., in 2010 and has quickly grown to more than 15 chapters nationwide.
Girls’ Pint Out gatherings often consist of trips to local breweries. Although women are the focus, the group hosts a mix of co-ed social events that encourage male and female beer drinkers to enjoy their suds together.
At the group’s meeting on Aug. 25, an all-female group of about 20 packed the private events room at Jackson’s Restaurant in Commack for a evening of games, socializing and, of course, beer.
“I never stepped that far out of my comfort zone,” said attendee Lauren Snair of Smithtown. “It’s been nice to expand. I’ll never drink a Bud Lite again.”
Ms. Spitz said the group meets about twice a month at various locations across Long Island to encourage more people to join. There is no fee to attend a Girls’ Pint Out event, although the ladies must buy their own beer.
Ms. Spitz founded the local chapter after finding that too many women appeared to shy away from expanding their palates beyond the typical light beers one can buy in a supermarket.
“I would be pouring at beer shows and all I would hear from a majority of women was, ‘I’ll have the lightest thing you have,’ or that they were just there because their boyfriends dragged them,” she said. “You can’t just judge a beer by its looks. Girls just didn’t know what they were drinking.”
Inspired by friends who launched the Boston chapter of Girls’ Pint Out, Ms. Spitz founded the Long Island group in January 2011; it didn’t quite work out the way she’d envisioned.
“Turnout was low,” she said of that first winter gathering. “There really wasn’t a market and it wasn’t the time to promote it.”
Ms. Spitz shelved the idea for almost 18 months but as time passed, and the couple came closer to opening Moustache Brewing Company, she sensed that a renewed interest in the club was also brewing. She relaunched the group earlier this year.
“The tide has turned and women are becoming more interested in craft beer,” she said.
Even though less than three years have passed since her first attempt to organize a group, Ms. Spitz’ assessment of a growing trend among women of sipping craft brew reflects national statistics. According to a 2012 Gallup Poll, 23 percent of women now prefer beer to liquor or wine, up by 7 percent since 2007. Ms. Spitz believes educating women about the fine points of craft beer has helped to increase its popularity.
“If someone didn’t explain craft beer to me, who knows what I’d be drinking now?” she said. “I think it boils down to education. Turnout now has been phenomenal.”