Beer and Wine at Ignite Phoenix 9

Ignite Phoenix 9 happened Friday, and we at Chow Bella are still aflame about the food-related topics discussed. If you're unaware, Ignite Phoenix is an event at which citizens of the Valley's creative community get on stage to present short, five-minute lectures about the things they're passionate about while slides shoot rapid-fire behind them. This year's topics ranged from a dog-lover's instructions on how to save a stray, to a wheelchair-bound woman's discussion of life at butt-level, to a ten-year-old kid's squeaky-voiced (and completely awesome) declaration of love for his 3-D printer. 

As food writers and lovers of fermented liquids, we were most excited about the presentations of Maureen Basenberg, founder of the Arizona chapter of Girls' Pint Out, and Pavle Milic, owner of Scottsdale restaurant FnB. The two didn't disappoint; both were smooth, funny and educational.

Since we couldn't say it any better than these two, we've chosen to let their Ignite presentations speak for themselves. Today we present Maureen Basenberg's lecture, From Alewife to Bikini Girl and Back.Tomorrow we'll bring you Pavle of FnB. You can view video of both of Maureen's presentation here

In Maureen Basenberg's words:

I love building community and bring people together. I said, "I can do that!" So I founded the Arizona chapter of Girls' Pint Out. Now, why do we need a group dedicated to women drinking beer? I think over time we lost a little bit of ourselves along the way. If we take a look at history, 30,000 years ago Sumerians discovered beer. Women practiced and refined the art of brewing. In fact, they used to pray to Ninkasi, the goddess of beer brewing, to help them remember the recipes.

In the middle ages, women were the primary brewers of beer. Past records show us that in England's villages, they were the large-scale brewers of the time. Now, something happened over time, where it was decided beer needed to come from a "trustworthy" source, and women were not. According to historical records, men became listed as the brewers, even though they would admit nothing changed, and women still knew more about it than they did.

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Prohibition ended and large-scale production resumed, but the kind of beer that prevailed was what appealed to the majority: inexpensive and -- some would say -- without taste. A few commercial breweries came to care that women didn't want their products. Beer advertising became part of it, and women were portrayed as keeping the men away from drinking their beer.

Then of course there's the classic "sex sells" strategy, in which they'd market girls in bikinis to get men to drink their beer. Now, I'm not here to say whether this is right or wrong, but I'm not attracted to anything that objectifies women. I would just rather they brew better beer.

In 1979, homebrewers rediscovered the art of brewing. Now, what is it about craft beer, exactly? Craft beer is passion. It is the hand-choosing of every ingredient and technique that makes every beer unique and connected to that brewer and that brewery -- and there are so many selections to be made! Let's say you find 10 stouts from 10 different breweries; each will be completely unique because they chose different ingredients: different malt, different hops and yeast.

Now, I will admit women have a little bit of an advantage. We've been found to have more sensitive palates. In fact, a lot of breweries employ women as their lead taste-testers to test their products. The good news is that we are gaining recognition in the industry. According to Beer Business Daily, Kim Jordan of New Belgium Brewing is the ninth most powerful person in the whole industry. And Denise Jones of Moylan's left an established career to become an award-winning brewmaster. Our present-day beer culture is helping too. More and more groups exist to help promote the cause of women enjoying beer. There's so much to experience; so many horizons to explore. There's such a big world out there.

So what's there for you all to do? Well, all of us could stand to open our minds a little bit about women and beer. And you women out there, if you're interested, check out Arizona Girls Pint Out or a group like us. We would love to toast with you. Cheers!

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