I’m taking a look at some possible reasons the beer industry has failed so spectacularly to market beer to women, in an honest effort to increase market share.
It’s a proven fact that women’s taste buds, like everything else, work differently than men’s. Studies at Yale University showed that most women taste bitter much more strongly than most men. It’s a function of the number of taste buds you have, which is genetically determined. Women tend to have more taste buds than men (though not always – nothing like this is true for every person).
On top of how many tastebuds you have, Yale says about 25% of people are non-tasters – not enough taste buds to differentiate much in the way of flavors; about 50% are medium tasters, and 25% are supertasters. About 35% of women and 15% of men tend to be supertasters. It may be that bitter flavors signal danger in the form of poisonous plants, which is why folks mostly don’t like it, but that’s one of those things we’ll never know for sure.
We do know more women don’t enjoy the bitter hophead beers an average guy taster might like just fine, because to them the bitter taste is much stronger. There are women who like their IBUs (International Bittering Units), but generally speaking, women tend to prefer maltier beers with lower hop profiles. Right now, the fashion in the U.S. is for incredibly hoppy brews – the hoppier it is the prouder the brewer is. (In my case, I really don’t care for bitterness, but I absolutely love the floral aromas breweries like Sun King are so good at building into their uber-hoppy beers. They often really downplay bitterness in favor of gorgeous aromatics.)
So if you’re trying to impress a girl, make sure to have something available for her that she actually likes. Don’t continually offer her (or worse, order for her) Imperial IPAs unless you’re 100% sure she’s one of the rare women who actually like them.