Girls' Pint Out
Last summer, I attended the Beer Blogger’s Conference and met Tamre Mullins, who was one of the co-founders of Girls' Pint Out, which started in Indianapolis in 2010. Although she left the organization in 2012, her references to it left me intrigued. I’d been wrestling with the fact that as a beer writer, most of the people I dealt with on the consumer side were dudes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! But I thought that in a town like New Orleans, specialized drinking clubs thrive, so why not see if we had any beer drinking ladies interested?
In November 2013, I reached out to co-founder and head of the national Girls’ Pint Out organization, Magen Peters, who was very helpful and supportive. She created a Facebook and Twitter page for the New Orleans chapter, which I immediately began promoting. It was quickly apparent that there was a lot of interest in meeting up as soon as possible - not only from dedicated craft beer drinkers but also women who were new to the world of delicious and diverse beer.
According to Peters, “We started GPO 4 years ago in Indianapolis. Essentially, we started it as an outlet to get beers with our girlfriends without our guys giving us their opinions and judging us. It worked. After our first group, more girls became interested and we started a blog (now our website/blog) to document our beers, put out info about where we'd be and get others' input on what we should do.”
The first year of Girls' Pint Out’s existence, Peters reports, they had 4 chapters. “Our second year saw 8-12 more chapters. The third year saw on average, 15+ chapters and we've launched several this year already. Our official number is 48.”
I’ve found that there is an incredible diversity in the women who attend the New Orleans Girls' Pint Out events. There are some beer geeks and homebrewers, of course, as well as some “beginner” craft beer drinkers, who maybe tried something like a sour or imperial stout or an IPA that made them realize that the beer they thought they hated wasn’t the only kind of beer out there. There are also just a bunch of kick ass ladies who dig on great tasting beer. Hopheads, stout lovers, sour fiends. We’ve had a few Australians in the mix also, which is an interesting cross over. And there are women who are new to the city and see this group as a fun, casual, laid back way to get out and meet some cool people.
We also get some men who enjoy attending our events. Usually they are friends or spouses of women attending, which is great. Men are permitted at GPO social events, but one thing I was a little nervous about was guys showing up just to hit on a cool group of ladies, which would definitely cast a pall on the event. But happily, we haven’t actually had that problem, despite my fears.
I’m looking forward to moving on to educational events - maybe a group homebrew or beer style class. At this point, I’m still trying to get the word out about low-impact but high-fun meetups, and once we get a critical mass of women who are excited about the group, we can move to other kinds of events, be they educational or just more time and energy consuming to organize and pull off, like a special trip to tour breweries outside our local area, or hosting a women-only bottle share.
Our monthly meetups have stayed at around 25 folks, but I’m looking forward to using Meetup and combining forces with other women’s groups like our local Women In Technology chapter in order to grow our numbers.
It’s difficult to explain why these kinds of clubs are necessary - it’s not because we can’t drink on our own or with dudes, but it’s because it’s a great alternative to doing so. It’s not that we women are desperately unhappy with men in beer culture; it’s because this is a different way to experience that culture.
I love it when women tell me how happy they are there’s a group like this in New Orleans now. Even women who are very comfortable going out and drinking with men or mixed groups are happy about it. For my first event back in December, I was nervous that just a couple of my friends would show up - but we had more than 25 women hanging out, most of whom I’d never met till that night! And now I have some new, kickass, beer drinking girlfriends.