Saturday 22 July 2017

Meet the woman behind Beer Day Britain

Beer expert Jane Peyton is the one to thank for this national day.

By Jessica Pitocchi

Some events in the national calendar pass many people by, but Beer Day Britain is certainly one people seem happy to get behind.

Jane Peyton, a beer sommelier, writer and historian, is the driving force behind the day, now in its third year.

She said: “The beer industry had been talking for years about ‘why doesn’t Britain have a national beer day?’

“But it took a woman to actually do it and start it.”

Referencing one of Theresa May’s now infamous catchphrases, Peyton said it is through being a “bloody difficult woman” determined to create an official day to celebrate the country’s many pubs and brewers that the initiative eventually came to pass.

It would be fair to say that Peyton, a woman with extensive knowledge of a product quite often seen as belonging to men, has faced challenges during her career.

She’s been (and sometimes still is) mansplained to at the bar, ignored at one of her own privately run tasting sessions because an attendee assumed she was someone’s mother, and asked if she was the stripper.

“I did get a few comments, ‘what do you know about beer, you’re a woman’. Or a man who said ‘I should be ashamed of myself, a woman knowing more about beer than I do’,” she said.

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The blame for such attitudes lands partly at the feet of the people in marketing, according to Peyton, for choosing masculine branding styles and advertising campaigns that alienate half of the population.

While such problems still exist – for instance, the Top Totty beer that was banned in Parliament five years ago for being sexist is still on sale, unchanged, elsewhere – Peyton said those dreaded customer encounters seem to be going down while more gender neutral branding is on the way up, suggesting society is taking (slow) steps in the right direction.

“We’re still in the last century but we’re coming more towards the early 20th century now I think,” she said.

The date of Beer Day Britain – June 15 – is significant, too, as it’s the date the Magna Carta, which features a mention of ale in clause 35, was sealed.

Better known for restraining the powers of the king, the charter also protected the nation’s right to a perfectly measured pint.

So there are a few people to raise a glass to this Beer Day Britain.

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