Some Days I Wish I Had a Beard

Laura Patino, Holiday Mountain

Laura, in a Frida Kahlo moment of reflexion
(photo by Jen Lee Rachid)

Let us start this week’s post with a moment of reflection. Consider this question: are you guilty of profiling craft beer enthusiasts? Now, hold on. Pause before you automatically open your mouth or shake your head to deny it. Here’s a story.

A couple months ago, when our 25-year-old musician daughter came for a visit, I took her to a local brewpub for lunch. I knew exactly how it was going to play out because it’s always the same. We walk in and, instantly, the host or hostess—two that day, about Laura’s age—are assessing her. The hair, jet black with extensions at the time, is what people tend to notice first, then her always original mix of mostly vintage store clothing, and then the tats. All this transpires in about three seconds. The hosts/hostesses greet her with big smiles and that hey-we’re-all-hip vibe. “Lunch?” one asked her that day. “Party of two?” I was surprised they’d noticed I was there.

Beer flights and coffee

Beer flight and coffee (photo by pub server)

When the server arrived at our table, another female near my daughter’s age, they chatted and laughed way more than I thought was necessary. But I’ve learned this has advantages. Whatever I need during the meal, I tell Laura. She turns and looks for the server, raises her hand a little, flashes an adorable smile accompanied by a slight finger wave. “Hey, (ha-ha) could you bring us some catsup?” And, bingo, we have catsup! Naturally, while the server is there, she refills Laura’s coffee cup. (Yep, coffee. Embarrassing confession from a beer couple: neither of our adult children likes beer.)

On that particular day, I was working my way through whatever it was I ordered to eat and a carefully chosen beer flight. The new IPA was on the harsh side, IMO. (See, I’m cool, too!) The Mai Tai Pale Ale that had won the brewer/owner a 2015 GABF medal was as delicious as always. The next time the server refilled Laura’s coffee, I was tempted to ask, “Hey, (ha-ha), what does GABF stand for?” I’d give you 2-1 odds she couldn’t have answered correctly. Instead, I quietly behaved myself and listened to these twenty-somethings sound way cooler than I ever did at any point in my life.

So, back to the question: are you guilty of profiling craft beer enthusiasts?

Stereotpyical brewer

Stereotypical brewer (photo pirated from internet)

I’ll be honest. I am. Let’s face it, the stereotypes of bearded, shaggy-haired, brewers wearing short-sleeve T-shirts that show off full-sleeve tats exist for a reason. There are a lot of brewers who fit some or all of that image. But consider these stats from Pallet, “the magazine for people who like to think and drink,” started by Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione. Seventy percent of Pallet readers are male. Median age: 32. Median household income: $75,000. Graduated college: 67%.

Yes, there are reasons for those stereotypes. To borrow an old cliché, at one time or another, most of us will jump to judge a book by its cover. We expect certain behaviors and likes from people based on their appearances.

Christina Sierra-Jones with her brew pot

Homebrewing grandma, Christina Sierra-Jones (photo probably by Grandpa)

But hang on. My friends and I fit the nice, educated women over 50 stereotype. Most of these ladies aren’t craft beer drinkers, but, by golly, others of us are. Some of us know a lot about beer. Some homebrew or brew professionally. The two times I’ve been fortunate enough to see Kim Jordan speak at beer conferences, the co-founder of New Belgium Brewing Company has come on stage looking more movie star than brewer–and she’s one of the best in the business (brewers, not movie stars).

The next time you look at someone and immediately think you have them figured out, maybe engage that person in a little conversation first, because, honestly, some days, the profiling is enough to make me wish I had a beard.


  1. Even with my tattoos and crazy hair, if I’m at a brewery with a dude, I get overlooked. It’s an assumption that if the quy that I’m with has a beard, they know more about beer than I do. I constantly have to prove myself when the person I’m with does not based on apperance. When I drop the knowledge, I get surprised looks like, “Wow! She sure knows a lot about beer for a chick!”

    • Leslie Patino says:

      Dang, maybe we BOTH need beards, Amanda! Seriously, as with any prejudice, I think you break down the wall one brick at a time. Respecting your Cicerone certification, thanks for giving an older female beer geek a good laugh!

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