Meet the “Beer Moms” Challenging Drinking Stereotypes
Who needs wine when you can have something hoppier?
There are certain things no one tells you about becoming a mom. There’s the joy, love and pain that comes with having a child, which no one can really put into words, but there’s also the sudden introduction of “mom culture,” which — if you believe much of the internet — involves the constant wearing of only sort of clean yoga pants, driving a minivan to endless clubs and sporting events and sourcing all your children’s medical advice from questionable mom-based Facebook groups.
There are subsections to mom culture — almond moms, boy moms, Instagram moms, mommy bloggers, mom bosses, and so on — but one of the biggest is certainly “wine moms,” who are generally considered to be suburban moms who like a nice glass (or three) of vino at the end of the day in order to take the edge off after a rough day of screaming youngsters. There are thousands upon thousands of “wine mom” items on Etsy, bearing slogans like “raising kids takes a village and a vineyard” and “mama needs some wine,” and every Mother’s Day, retailers and list-makers churn out list after list of gift recommendations full of low-calorie rose and cute wine glass charms.
But what about the moms who don’t actually like wine, or who might prefer a nice hoppy pacific coast IPA? For a certain subsection of parents, that has meant adopting the “beer mom” moniker, both because they love a sudsy brew and as a way of setting themselves apart from their (arguably more basic) wine-loving counterparts. These beer moms have started podcasts and Instagram accounts, opened breweries and come together in social clubs, all in an effort to connect and to celebrate the drink (and the kids!) they love.
One of those self-proclaimed “beer moms” is Ashley Harmon, who goes by the Insta handle @BoujeeBeerMom and who co-owns several taprooms in the St. Louis area. Harmon says she got into beer through her husband, who’d gotten into the craft scene as an undergrad. He started to brew his own beer, keeping different ales on tap in the house, and Harmon just started experimenting from there. She got into West Coast and Imperial IPAs first, but says now she’s all about milkshake IPAs, which are brewed with milk sugar and fruit.
Harmon says she started the Boujee Beer Moms Insta page because she wanted to encourage more moms to get into craft beer. “I was doing the reviews, showing them what I was drinking, talking about it, starting a YouTube page, and that kind of made it a little bit more appealing,” she says. She says she thinks more women have joined the beer mom movement in recent years in part because breweries have started adding more fruit to their beers and also because breweries have stepped up their can art game, leaning further into bright colors and beautifully designed packaging.
“Women that don’t necessarily know craft beer are looking at the cans like ‘okay, this is a cool can. It has all these different fruits in it. Let me try it.’,” says Harmon. “I think it’s a little bit more approachable now than it was a couple years ago.”
Harmon says that getting in touch with her beer-loving self has also helped her become the best and most well-rounded mom she can be. “Before, I was a teacher and my kid rode with me every day,” she says. “I was at all of the events at school — I was the baseball mom, the soccer mom, the playdate mom — but then when I switched gears and turned into an entrepreneur, my son got to see another side of me. I got to project, ‘Okay, this is Mom now.’ He’s getting to see us in two different lanes, and we’ve had to become comfortable with some of the sacrifices we were making.”
“I’m totally fine being that mom that shows up to the school and I’ve got on my beer t-shirt,” Harmon says. “People know that I’m not walking around drinking all day and that it’s my business. They think, like, ‘You guys took a chance on yourselves, you guys bet it on yourselves, and now you’re just running with it.’”
Another mom who bet on herself, Delorean Wiley got into beer after a chance stop in San Luis Obispo, California in 2008. She’d been working in the wine industry in Texas while in college, and had her son just a few months before she graduated. Looking for a gig that could pay a little more, she decided to get a masters at Cal Poly University, and on her way to look for an apartment stopped to grab a beer at Firestone Walker. “It was a double barrel ale, and while I’d had some craft beers in Texas, I hadn’t had anything like that,” she says. “I really just fell in love, and then I started to see the relationship between wine and barrel aging for beer, and that’s what started my interest. I decided to switch my research from wine to beer and began looking at sustainability in the craft beer industry.”
How Do We Fix Craft Beer’s Diversity Problem?
Organizations like Beer Kulture are working hard to promote inclusion in an overwhelmingly white industry
Wiley is back in Texas now, where she’s doing doctoral research and working on a book chapter called “Feminists Ferment” that’s about how the beer industry can become more inclusive when it comes to their marketing and hiring practices. Breweries have both political and community influence, which Wiley says equates to “How do they engage their patrons? How do they advocate for issues in their community? And what types of issues do they advocate for?”
“A lot of people don’t realize that the things that don’t get mentioned or talked about create these stereotypes or these roles or these boundaries that people feel like they have to be in, and that’s where this mom stuff comes in,” Wiley explains. She just completed a study of over 400 different craft brewing websites to see how they portray women, and often she finds that they’re depicted or mentioned as being interested in something like doing yoga and then having a beer on a Saturday.
“That’s cool, and I’m glad they’re trying to be inclusive, but the more that we just say that that’s the role women play in the industry, then that’s what’s going to pop into peoples’ heads,” Wiley says. If that’s all that brewery websites and marketing materials show women doing with and around their products, then that’s ignoring the countless brewers, aficionados and active mothers — just to name a few — who also enjoy and appreciate their products.
Being involved in the beer industry, Wiley says, hasn’t always been easy — she’s had to have discussions both with her family and with others about how she can balance her mom life and her work — but as far as she’s concerned, loving her means loving her passions. “Whoever was going to be in my life had to know that this was going to be part of our lives,” she says. “As loving and as supportive as my husband is, there have still been times in our marriage where he’s fallen into the trap of getting into what society says I shouldn’t be or comparing me to other wives, and saying, ‘Well, you’re not quite like that.’”
“I’ve definitely had to advocate and say ‘This is something that’s important to me, and this is a part of my life, and so if I’m important to you, this is going to be a part of your life as well,’” Wiley explains.
Wiley says that she’s also been able to use her role in the craft beer industry to channel some of her frustrations and energy, for instance raising money alongside the Bandera Brewery in the wake of the Uvalde shooting. “That’s not something we would have been involved in had we not had the connections I’ve made… because of the work that I do in water conservation (for brewing) and with the small business owners,” she says. “Overall, I think I’ve seen more good come out of being in this community than any bad that’s come out.”
A beer mom’s guide to Mother’s Day gifting:
Consider Mom’s likes before buying
“My first question for any customer is, ‘What’s your flavor palate?’,” says Harmon. “Are they more on the sweet side? Are they more on the dry, hoppy side? And then I break it down from there.”
Take a page from Mom’s likes
“I always ask buyers, ‘What do you drink everyday when you come home from work? What’s the one thing that relaxes you?’,” says Harmon. “And then I can point you in the right direction.”
Consider the weather and the occasion
“If it’s a rainy Sunday here in Texas,” says Wiley, “then I’m probably good with a nice IPA at home on the couch —something hazy, preferably. But if it’s a nice sunny afternoon and I get to go spend a day out in the Hill Country, then I might decide that I want a fruit sour.”
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