Brisbane's unrivalled beer afficiando, Matt Kirkegaard, or Good Beer Matt, as he's known, is our go-to source for all things bubbly and frothy. He recently took The Urban List team (which is predominantly female) through a very thorough, very informative, very fun beer appreciation course, in which we sampled the likes of beer Champagne (yes, it's a real thing), munched on hops (a surprisingly tasty snack?), and learnt some seriously wanky beer terms, that we have been spruiking non-stop ever since ('cause wine wankers are so '99).
Like many females, until we tried a few superior brews for ourselves and learnt just what it was we were tasting, we had quite a negative view of the amber ale. So, to spread our new-found beer love, we asked Matt for his tips on how women can start to enjoy and appreciate beer for themselves. Cheers!
Why Don't girls like Beer?
A common complaint Matt hears around the traps is that beer is a man's drink, but he thinks there are plenty of beers that can be enjoyed by the fairer sex. The fact that, until recently, we've largely only been drinking low-flavoured, relatively bitter brews that were designed to refresh hard-working blokes, not to please more seasoned palates, has probably had a lot to do with our distaste for beer.
Matt compares it to saying you don't like cheese when you've only ever tried cheese singles. Beer comes in mass-produced varieties that are deliberately made to be pretty flavourless, so you can sink a six-pack easily, as well as in craft varieties that have been produced specifically for their unique flavours, and are meant to be enjoyed one bottle at a time. Essentially, you need to get out there any try the good stuff, before you dis' beer completely.
Another common complaint Matt hears from the ladies is that beer is too bitter. But remember how you felt the first time you tried really dark chocolate, or coffee? Bitter notes can be glorious; it's just a matter of training your palate to appreciate the hops-y goodness.
If you need any more incentive to give beer another go or try your hand at a beer tasting session, Matt says that studies have shown that women actually have a better developed sense of taste then men (we knew it!), all-the-better for appreciating the subtle nuances between IPAs and stouts, largers and pilsners.
Matt's Picks of the most Lady-Friendly Beers
Stone & Wood Brewery (Byron Bay) 4.4%
An incredibly popular craft beer that can be described as the Sauvignon Blanc of beers. Australian Galaxy hops give it a powerful aroma of passionfruit and lychees (there aren't any in it) but the beer is still dry and quite crisp and not fruity on the palate. In my experience It has done more to change women's ideas of beer than any other — I regularly hear a surprised "wow, I actually like that".
Brouwerij Bosteels, Belgium(Belgium) 11.5%
A beer made following the methode champenoise and literally the champagne of beers. Triple fermented and then riddled and disgorged over an extended period and packaged in a champagne bottle with cork and cage, this not only doesn't lool like a beer, it doesn't taste like any you have ever tried. Not quite Champagne, not quite beer, but a unique and memorable experience with subtle flavours of star anise, pear and apple. One of the few beers I recommend serving as chilled as you can, and paired with the freshest oysters available, or a goats cheese such as Chevre Cremeux D'Affinois .
Holgate Brewery (Victoria) 6%
Don't be scared of 'dark' beers. Great porters and stouts have characters of chocolate, toffee, mocha, cocoa and even hints of vanilla and licorice. How can you not like that? Holgate complement these flavours by adding Dutch cocoa and vanilla beans to the blend of seven malts in the brew for a velvety and decadent drink that pairs perfectly with ice-cream, Dello Mano chocolate brownies and chocolate cake. Drier versions of the style will pair nicely with sweet desserts, even pavlova.
Matt's Tips for Enjoying Your brew
"The big thing with beer is drink widely and experiment with flavour. Lager is one, very low flavour version," says Matt.
"A little can be a lot. "I really like that, but I couldn't drink a lot of it" is something I regularly hear. You don't have to approach beer as a six-pack only proposition. The trend towards enormous heavy pint glasses is a very female unfriendly, and I know lots of blokes who don't like it either. If you're buying beer by the bottle, ask for a wine glass and even get two and share it with a friend. If you're buying tap beer ask for the smallest glass size they offer. Enjoy the flavour of the beer, matched with food, without the need to drink it by the half litre."
If you'd like to learn from the man himself, Matt offers beer appreciation sessions and tastings for groups, which can be as formal or as informal as you like (hello, new-age hen's party idea!). And he also does corporate events. You can find all the details here.
Image credit: Because I'm Addicted