What do women craft brewers want? Flavor, variety, class and less skin.
Ed’s Note: Written in May 2007. Not published anywhere but my dormant food portfolio and now here.
BY ED MURRIETA
AUSTIN, Texas — Never mind Miller, Bud and Coors’ foam-soaked fantasies. Jenny Talley is a craft brewer who doesn’t squirm when sex sells suds.
“We have a sexy girl on the bottle,” said Talley, a 38-year-old blonde from Utah, who bears an outdoorsy dream-girl resemblence to the midriff-revealing Provo Girl on the label of her award-winning pilsner.
Though decidedly G-rated like the Provo Girl, (Talley brews 4 percent ABV in Utah, after all), Talley is pictured on Squatter’s Pub’s Web site with two gold medals she won at Great American Beer Festivals; the awards plunge down the T-shirt that clings to her taught torso.
“The Great American Beer Festival was founded on scantily dressed women trying to get you to vote for someone’s beer,” Talley said. “If a woman wants to use her body to sell beer, she has every right. If it works and it sells beer, I’m OK with it.”
Natalie Cilurzo, general manager of Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, isn’t OK with it. Aside from free-flowing beverages and the occasional kilt, the Craft Brewers Conference was a buttoned-up affair. (“We like it classier,” Cilurzo said.) One vendor’s scantily clad model stood out at the trade show.
“I was very uncomfortable for her because that’s not what we’re about,” Cilurzo said. “She’s not going to help that guy sell more tanks. I don’t want to do business with him because I don’t like his marketing. Can you believe this guy?”
The comley model stirred Cilurzo’s incredulity kettle. She recalled a radio advertisement for a Sonoma County beer festival that she and her brewmaster husband, Vinnie, sponsored in March.
“I told Vinnie: I’m offended by this commercial,” she said. “The whole commercial was just about people being totally disgusting and drunk. And then the guys says, ‘Hey, babe, you bring the beer, I’ll bring the condoms.’ Vinnie said, ‘We’re pulling out.’”
As interviews with a dozen women brewers and brewery executives at the Craft Brewers Conference here in April revealed, figuring out what women want — both in beers and their marketing — is obvious and impossible.