Craft beer adventures and experiences… one pint at a time

I have an affinity for Shakespeare’s quotes and his famous “Rose” quote came to mind as I mused about discussions with homebrewers, bloggers and others over the term “Microbrew(s)” vs “Craft beer.”

“That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet 

Perhaps I’m old school (I’m no longer 30-something,) by still using the term “Microbrews” instead of the new, hip term “Craft Beer” – but isn’t it all beer after all?

I find it interesting that aside from industry insiders, whose passion or profession is craft beer, everyone else I meet in the U.S. or abroad knows about mass-produced beer or microbreweries, but not so much about “craft beer.”

So, despite ongoing quips and comments from industry “insiders”, I’m staying the course and keeping MicrobrewsUSA as my blog name (with due thanks to Shakespeare!)

Here’s a bit of background that I presented last month at the European Beer Bloggers Conference in Brussels (#EBBC5):

terminology craft beer1
terminology craft beer2

To me, changing terminology is an issue in every industry (I wrote a blog post for the software engineering audience last month on this topic: “In a few words: why IT is intimidating”)

So, tell me, what do you think:

Does it matter whether you call your beer microbrewed, craft, specialty, ale, lager, Belgian, or something else, if it all “tastes as sweet”?

As I await my flights to attend #EBBC15 in Brussels, it strikes me that I’m a bona fide beer snob. You know the type… I’ve chided friends who choose mass produced brews instead of craft varietals or one off releases, and I’m sorry.

It’s a 1st world problem when we create drama or hierarchy of peeps by self-selecting friends based on what they drink… And… I realize it’s stupid. Kind of like when you realize you’re any kind of “elitist anything” based on an opinion. And, we all do it without thinking.

I’m committed to change and the #BBC15 in Asheville last month opened my eyes. One of our conference sessions featured a senior QA professional from, *gasp* Budweiser, THE mass produced beer often only whispered about in craft beer circles. The presentation was FIRST RATE! And professional and scientific and respectful… everything a solid presentation should be. I was impressed and humbled at the same time.

It hit me then… We… are… privileged. We can drink what we like here in a free first world county, and we are also free to like what we drink. It’s a great thing!

So, from now on, if you see me and you’re drinking a xxx-lite, good on you! I promise to be respectful of your beverage choice, no matter what.

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying a Goose Island IPA (it’s only a short distance from mass produced brew) and today, that’s what I like.



This quote is so apt for this weekend!!!

How better to motivate me to quote more, write more, observe more, and share more on this blog than to attend a Beer Bloggers Conference?

I’m in Asheville this weekend with 100+ other writers/bloggers/community leaders from all over the U.S. doing just that. This is my 5th bloggers conference (I’ve only missed one since it started in 2010) and it’s a homecoming of sorts reconnecting with peers from almost every state who share my passion. #bbc15

Craft Beer is an amazing hobby that brings together passionate, optimistic, inspiring people with regular jobs, but who share the love of the world’s oldest purified beverage.

We gather annually in a vibrant city where craft beer is thriving (past cities include Boulder, Portland, Boston, Indianapolis, San Diego, and now Asheville,) and spend an agenda planned weekend of brewery visits, lectures, networking socials, and sharing.


Here in Asheville, our day 1 included visits to Oskar Blues brewing and Sierra Nevada, where we hobnobbed with brewery dignitaries -‘thank you to both breweries and to all of our conference sponsors and organizers.


I’m inspired to start trying new things with this hobby and I need your input (please and thank you)…

What would YOU like to see on this blog? Local brewery reviews/visits or events and photos or videos of places I visit or something different?

Here’s your incentive… I’ll pick a commenter at random and award s/he with some craft beer swag… So, go!

tbbw 2015

Throughout the U.S., (and increasingly in other countries as well,) full-scale regional BEER WEEKS are becoming the norm.  With over 3000 operational craft breweries, Beer Weeks are definitely becoming TOURIST DESTINATION WEEKS!

Our local Tampa Bay Beer Week (#TBBW) is imminent (Mar 7-15, 2015) will again be a celebration focused on local Tampa Bay (30+) and Florida breweries (close to 100!) with a few notable anchor festivals on the first and second #TBBW weekends:

All told, if 2015 is anything like years before, you’ll be able to select from close to 300 events on both sides of Tampa Bay (and north and south to Bradenton, Sarasota, Tarpon Springs, Lakeland, and beyond) – visit the #TBBW website for up-to-date listings and  links about 2015 events.

VolunBEER (volunteer) Opportunitiessignup genius

If you’re short on cash or simply want to donate your enthusiasm and energy to making local craft beer events run smoothly (volunteer tasks range by event and can include registration help, checking identification, selling tickets, pouring beer, fetching ice, emptying dump buckets, door security and other jobs,)  you may want to join my VolunBEERs database (simply email your name, email and cell number to me:  caroldekkers at gmail dot com!)


What’s New for #TBBW in 2015DIPA TBBW 2015

For the first time ever, the Tampa Bay Beer Week board has commissioned a special beer to commemorate craft beer in Tampa Bay.  Brewed this inaugural year by Cigar City Brewing, the Double IPA (DIPA) is already available by the bottle at Cigar City’s Tampa tasting room, and will be available throughout the bay area at local #TBBW sponsors, bars and establishments (distributed by J.J. Taylor.)

Carol’s Event Recommendations for #TBBW:

  • Sat Mar 7, 2015: Florida Brewers Guild Beerfest (see links above) – Tampa
  • Sun Mar 8, 2015: Best Florida Beer presents Brewers Ball (see links above) – Tampa
  • Wed Mar 11, 2015: TBD. Recommendations to come!
  • Fri Mar 13, 2015:  Friday the 13th!  Recommendations to come!
  • Sat Mar 14, 2015: Hunahpu’s Day – Cigar City Brewing Company (see links above) – sold out! – Tampa
  • Sun Mar 15, 2015:  Recommendations to come!

Drink responsibly – designate a driver to get you and your friends home safely!


I love craft beer and the craft beer community – it’s uniquely optimistic, positive, creative, social, family oriented, pet friendly, gender-neutral, and open-minded. On average, craft beer drinkers are upwardly mobile (two-thirds earn over $75K a year, are between 26 and 54, and almost 50% are women.)

Certainly craft beer drinkers are no different from mainstream society: we face challenges with career, jobs, family and finances like everyone else, but one of the best parts about our community is that the quest for great brews, new tastes, loves and life dominate our gatherings!

Unsurprisingly, the craft brewing industry (breweries, brewers, distribution, retailers and bars) is dominated by men, but the latest statistics also show that a staggering 44% of craft beer drinkers nationwide are women!  And bartender, we’re knowledgeable women at that!

Bay Area Barley's Angels

It might come as a surprise to you to know that female craft beer drinkers are regularly “dissed” at craft beer establishments (all the above) by both men and women alike.  By “dissed” I mean disrespected, discounted, and disregarded as if we negligently ended up in craft beer places.

Two years ago when this started happening to me, I chalked it up to my superpowers of invisibility that comes with being an over-40 female with all-my-own-body-parts.  I was so frustrated that I even wrote a blog post about it:  “IWF (Invisible White Female) – The forgotten demographic.”

So, I was a bit surprised to discover,  via a Facebook discussion in a craft beer group, that the issue is widespread among women who are experts in craft beer.  Throughout the country, and across the world, we are often treated as if we don’t have a brain (or rights to be served,) – yet our money spends equally well.  And, even more surprisingly, craft beer men sometimes face similar treatment AND see what we go through.  It’s the beginning of a solidarity movement of sorts, but I digress.

real women craftReal Women Drink Craft Beer…

More women are moving into drinking beer, especially craft brews, at a faster rate than men, and are also becoming home brewers and cicerone trained.

Perhaps our quest for knowledge is because we don’t like to be told what to drink or feel overwhelmed at a craft beer bar.  The intimidation factor from male bartenders asking us “what would you little ladies like to try?” is part of the reason that women’s craft beer groups like Barley’s Angels and Girls Pint Out exist.

So, here’s what happened on Facebook

A friend (female) posted about her experience at a local liquor store.  Within minutes, a handful of responses came in with accounts of disrespect and dismissal by bartenders, clerks and others in the craft beer industry.   While I feel a sense of relief that my earlier findings weren’t personal, it was disheartening to find out just how widespread is the problem.  (And it’s not universal – there are bar owners who DO respect us, and retail outlets that treat us well… it’s unfortunate that there’s even an issue.)

The original post:

This one is for my fellow female fort members: I randomly stopped at ABC Liquors at <xx location> on Sunday just to grab something quick, nothing fancy, and as I was perusing the cooler a jack ass male employee sauntered up to me and said, “It’s quite the intimidating selection, let me help you.” I held back the urge to drop kick him in the chest and tried to politely brush him off but he kept on insisting and when he seemed to disregard my, “yeah, I’ve had that…I’m just gonna grab this Invasion and gose and be on my way..” response to all of his suggestions I finally, somewhat politely, told him to shut the eff up and walked away. Do you ladies get this a lot when you’re beer shopping? It happens on occasion but this bro caught me on a really bad day, so it stands out.

Can you imagine anyone treating a guy this way?  It’s hardly an isolated incident based on 75 comment responses… including:

I usually get shown all the new ciders they just got in. 

Happens to me all the time. I get– what kind of beer do you usually like and I want to say— F-er- I probably know more about beer than you do and I have had all your lame ass stuff here which is why I am looking for so long…..HATE that.

If a dude told me that, I would have laughed. Intimidating. I’ll show you intimidating.

It’s only happened a couple of times to me. Most places around here know me by now though. The last time it happened was at the ABC in <local community>. He was impressed that I knew what a west coast IPA was. Really? Sir, you have no idea who you’re dealing with now so just step aside and let me do my thing.

I’m usually standing there for so long trying to figure out which stand-by to go with or choose the lesser of all the evils. Male clerk described Invasion as “good for someone who likes IPAs but wants something a little ‘less'”. Da fuq does that even mean? And I have pretty good resting bitch face, especially that day. He must not pick up on social cues.

Male or female, no salesperson with half a brain should approach a consumer with such an assumptive attitude. “Can I help you find anything” “What do you have a taste for today” or even “What’s your level of beer knowledge” would be better openers, brah.

I hate the question– well- what type of beer do you normally like? Ummm…. Good beer….??? I am glad this thread was posted because I feel like this happens to me a lot. Maybe I look ‘beer dumb’.

I got it from a chic bartender at some dumb brew house restaurant. The kind where the beers are in categories that they don’t quite meet the expectations of.

My point was I was at a liquor store looking through their selection to FIND what I wanted to buy. I KNEW what I WANTED, as you just said, and I was looking for it. I don’t need someone to approach me and make a comment suggesting that their “intimidating” selection was too much for me to handle. It wouldn’t have annoyed me had he not been a douche bag about it. Yes, employees at liquor stores and bartenders are there to help you make a selection when you need help, but there’s an appropriate, not shitty way to inquire as to whether someone needs help or not.

Omg… Still better than in London UK when a male bartender responded to me when I asked about the cask brews saying “oh… these are much too strong for you … they go up to 7.2%… you’re going to want to try those blond ones at the other end of the bar” When I ordered the 7.2% plum porter he had a female serve it to me. Ugh. Yes, happens here in Tampa too, all the time, that is when I can actually get served. Bartenders are judgmental… And it’s part of why I won’t go to WOB , my invisibility powers are too strong there.

All.the.time. When I have my work shirt on(I work for a distributor) it totally flips the script. Then it’s a different type of attitude. Both are frustrating. It is what it is. The look on their faces when they have been “beer schooled” is and always will be priceless. I’m not a damsel in distress, I’m just trying to decide. Thanks for your concern!

OMG DON’T GET ME STARTED ON FEMALE INVISIBILTY POWERS AT WOB. 15 minutes, FIFTEEN MINUTES and 4 female WOB servers saw right through me one of the first times I went in there. They were eager enough to cash me out, though, and I said “No, thanks, this $10 tip is for Josh who was the one who actually waited on me.”

WOB is the worst for that. Happened to me tonight at xxx Brewery, too, though. Four chicks behind the bar, three people (including me) sitting at the bar. Ten minutes to get acknowledged.

From a male:  I am just being a a-hole all over this thread but as a guy, I have been in some craft beer bars whee I am invisible to wait staff too. It’s not always just a gender thing, just poor service .

It definitely depends on the bar. The female bartenders at WOB locations, in my humble opinion, seem to fit a certain physical stereotype, and typically fawn very obviously over the male customers and have zero craft beer knowledge.

Bottom line of my post <from the original post>it’s annoying when dudes in craft beer establishments/liquor stores automatically treat me (and other female customers) like they need to talk to me like I’m an idiot and think they need to hold my hand through the aisles and point out the “good beers” because I’m a chick. I am far from intimidated by ABC’s beer selection.

Another male response:  Barside invisibility can definitely strike across gender boundaries, yeah. In the sort of establishments that are most prone to that sort of behavior from the barbacks, I think it has more to do with whether or not you look like you have more money than sense. I’m a 6’4″ ginger dude, not exactly tough to spot in a crowd, and I’ve been ignored plenty of times. I must not look desperate enough to buy half a dozen Red Bull and vodkas for all the mad hawt chixx I’m totally gonna score with tonight. One time, I got so fed up that I pulled out the biggest bill I had in my wallet and waved it at one of the barbacks to get his attention…so that he could see me slowly put it back in my wallet, and slowly flip him the bird as I turned and left.

That said, it is absolutely positively 100% worse for women than men. Unfortunately, there are far too many servers who still assume that women are there to have drinks bought for them, not buy their own. And there’s no way any guy would be the lucky recipient of anything remotely like the persistent, condescending, and ham-fisted “assistance” of that ABC muppet.

Another male:  I’m really happy to see this conversation happen here! imo, this is exactly what the beer scene needs. up with inclusivity and respect, down with douchebaggery!

Stopped in at a pizza place in Dunedin that had recently remodeled, put in a bunch of taps, and was advertising craft beer, just to see what they had on tap (I was early for a hair appointment nearby). Walked in, was greeted nicely, and I replied that I just stopped to check out what they had on tap. Got the “Well, what kind of beer do you usually drink?” as the two of them stood there blocking my view of the taps. “I just want to take a look and see what’s on tap,” I said as I shifted to try to see the tap handles. “What’s your favorite beer?” “Really, I’m not staying right now, I’m just checking to see what you have on tap.” “Oh, so I stumped you. You can’t even tell me your favorite beer? Do you like light beers or dark beers?” “Can I just take a look at the taps?” “You don’t have a favorite beer?” “Yes, I do. The beer I brew…”as I walked out.

Totally different talk show, but that happens to me more than anything else. Even worse are the ones who tend to the male you’re with (if you’re with one) but ignore you completely. That happened at Revolution Brewing when I was in Chicago recently.

There was a female bartender at a place I used to hang out. This happened all the time. She would check all the males at the bar, make sure their drinks were full, then walk over to her phone and start texting or face booking or something. I’d have my empty glass right there. THE PHONE WAS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. THIS CHICK LITERALLY STOOD ACROSS THE BAR FROM ME AND WOULDNT SERVE ME. I pointed it out to the owner one night. He said something so I got beer with attitude. She messed with the wrong ginger. She doesn’t work there anymore.

Something similar happened to me yesterday at Total Wine, which I’ve never ever had a problem with before and maybe after reading your post now I’m more aware of LADY BEERS and ‘little ladies who can’t figure out what they want must need my help!’ mandrome. I’m staring at the seasonal releases, trying to determine “Which Dogfish Head do I get? They are all sounding fabulous…” To which of course a gentleman employee comes over to ask “Do you need help?” “Nope, just trying to decide what I want. I want them all.” “What do you normally drink?” “…..sigh…..All of them.” “Oh, do you like pumpkin beers?” and points to the other side of the aisle. “Lots to choose from, I’ve seen other women pick this one…..” to which the buzzer went off inside me and I just laughed a ridiculous cackle and I kinda yelled “I’M OVER PUMPKIN BEERS!” and laughed. He gave me a kinda ‘oh shit now what’ kinda look and said “It sounds like you know what you are doing. Holler if you need help.” and swiftly walked away. Ha! I may be short and blonde, but quiet and in need of beer help I am not.

Bartenders and others related to the craft beer industry are the worst offenders towards female patrons of any age, personality or looks.  Certainly discrimination occurs in other industries based on judgment of race, creed, color and gender, but in the craft beer industry – with almost half of imbibers being women – this is abysmal.

If this happened to men, I think it might be enough to raise network TV attention.

Just being female who drinks craft beer somehow signals us as being inept or stupid… and it’s simply not true! Despite the stereotype that women don’t know anything about craft beer, the service industry involved has no excuse for treating women badly.  We’re not hapless little ladies (or even a “baby girl” – that was the worst I’ve been called to my face!) – we’re craft beer drinkers who happen to be female!

“Wake up Bartender – Real Women Drink Craft Beer!”

What do YOU think?  Comments?

local 662

“Wow, oh wow!”

That was the anthem resonating about the brews on tap for the inaugural Ale and the Witch’s All Local brewfest Saturday night at Local 662 in downtown St Petersburg.  Specialty collaborations and rare bottles were on hand from many of the 25+ local St Petersburg/Tampa area breweries – some never to be seen again.  Brett Andress, owner of The Ale and The Witch in St Petersburg put together a stellar line-up of brews and entertainment (The Applebutter Express) in an art nouveau space.

As often goes when I’m multi-tasking (coordinating volunteers, taking photos, networking and whatever else,) I don’t remember the specialty one-off brews I sampled.  But, I didn’t taste anything I didn’t like or want more of (which is rare.)

Nonetheless, between the Chocolate Peanut Butter offering from Sea Dog and the Green Bench Oude Bruin and the collaboration between Pair O’ Dice and Green Bench and the Cigar City specialty bottles, I was left with good taste, better times, and happy thoughts.

If you attended, please comment on your favorite brew!

Enjoy the photo montage below and until next time… be safe!

Looking to do something grand and beer-related on a sultry Saturday evening in downtown St Petersburg FL?   Tampa Bay Beer Week (#TBBW) and our supporters definitely did it up in grand style this past weekend!

halfway there logoSaturday, Sept 6, 2014 at the historic St Petersburg Coliseum marked the second annual #TBBW Halfway There Rare Beer Festival.  With the event capping attendance at 1000, we’re making our mark on the Florida beer scene.

It was an incredible event thanks to the #TBBW board and legions of others who donated time, beer, enthusiasm, and planning.

A big thank you to all my VolunBEERs who came out and donated their time, energy and heartbeats to make this an incredible festival for everyone!


With Tampa Bay Beer Week slated for Mar 7-15, 2015, we’re Halfway to incredible times ahead…But that’s still 6 months away, and we’re just getting started.

Saturday’s Halfway There fest featured rare and little seen (in these parts anyways) brews – local and international. This fest had over 60 confirmed breweries, 8 local home brew clubs, vendors, volunteers, and paid attendees who sampled, swirled, drank, and enjoyed what is fast becoming an incredible craft beer community in Tampa Bay.

Photo credits go to Tom Scherberger, Tiese Melton, and myself.

With close to 400 pics from the event itself, you can get a sense of the merriment and fun we had.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

While I don’t have pictures from The Ale and The Witch’s pre-party, I do have some from Hops and Props after-party:

Next up is The Ale and The Witch’s Local Fresh Brew Fest THIS WEEKEND (Sept 13, 2014) featuring live music, local brews, and lots of new friends.

See you there or at another upcoming St Pete/ Tampa area brewfest!

p.s., If you’d like to be added to my VolunBEER database (in case you live here OR you’re going to visit FL in the future and might want to volunteer) for future brew events in Florida, send me your name, email address, and cell number. It’s a great way to celebrate that Brews and Florida and Friends go together!



Tag Cloud


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,419 other followers

%d bloggers like this: