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Gender, innovation and bias

Bailey talks about the innovations that could help continue to move beer into a modern, enlightened, equality driven and broadly appreciated arena

Dave Bailey Hardknott Brewery

Humans have made beer for many thousands of years. Indeed, archaeologists have discovered that there is evidence of it being made over 7,000 years ago. With such an ancient trade one has to question how innovation might be possible, is there indeed anything that can be considered new or novel when there are many thousands of years of combined human beer technology?

Innovation is broadly considered as new technology that changes the way a product is made, delivered, marketed or presented. It might possibly be a variation that is outside the accepted norm for a product, or even just exploring new target audiences in a way that has never been done before.

I would also postulate innovation can even be the application of old ideas that have fallen by the wayside. Expansion of ideas into the mainstream that are considered by contemporary wisdom to be specialist and niche are equally justifiable innovation.

Beer has consistently and repeatedly weakened for various reasons. These days many beer drinkers consider anything above 5%ABV to be crazy. In reality these same people will often drink other beverages at many times the concentrations of alcohol. There is simply no real reason for the divide other than instilled tradition and preconceived ideas.

Before industrialization and mass marketing many brewers made beers of various strengths, style and colours. Although this has never really died out completely, it has become much more marginal and shoved into a narrow group of beer consumers who might be considered enthusiasts.

What are left in the mainstream are a few beers with almost no difference

between any of them. Flavour differences are minimal, with brand loyalty and marketing glitziness much more marked than actual flavour variations.

In the modern world it is also important to consider equality. Beer, due to the ever belligerent advertising of major brands, has become very genderised. There is no good reason for this. The more contemporary of micro-breweries are now aiming at a broader range of customers with stereotype busting marketing. We are very pleased to be involved in this new-wave of beer development.

Beer has, over the years, been considered a poor man's drink. It has been debased by years of crass mass production and cynical advertising. Beer deserves a little increase of status. Indeed, one of the advantages of beer over other forms of alcoholic beverages is a broad range of strengths, flavours and styles.

Hardknott has always championed the idea that beer can be considered more than just a fizzy yellow lager, or your rather dull traditional bitter. We are keen to further explore how beer can be more exciting, bolder, bigger and make sure much more innovative beer is brought into the mainstream.

For all the reasons above I am delighted to be involved in the Beer Innovation Summit, run by the Publican's Morning Advertiser. I am to take part in a panel that will discuss the state of the UK beer market (February 26, 2014 at St George's Park, in Burton-Upon-Trent). I hope I can help shed light on innovations that could help continue to move beer into a modern, enlightened, equality driven and broadly appreciated arena."

Dave Bailey runs Hardknott Brewery in Millom, Cumbria with his partner Ann Wedgwood (pictured above).


18 February 2014