Last week, my friend, fellow beer writer and Beervanian brother, Jeff Alworth, posted on his blog, Beervana, an interesting post — with additionally interesting subsequent replies — about whether women seem to enjoy sour beers more than other flavors, and, if so, why.
It certainly seems like sour beers have struck a congenial chord with women, especially women who normally don’t like most beers – and those who are prone to contorting into “bitter beer face” at the thought of beer.
I have a bit of a theory on why women might enjoy sour beers more than other beers. And it goes back to the caveman (and cavewoman) days.
There is a school of thought that women’s palates are more fine-tuned to bitter (not sour) flavors because, as the primary child caregivers, at least historically, women would often taste food first before giving it to their child. In fact, these earlier females probably even chewed the food a bit before giving it to the younger ones – especially in the days before cutlery and CuisineArts.
My crazy, eat-everything-in-sight dog aside, bitter flavors are usually a signal to most animals that what they have just stuck in their mouths is not safe. So, perhaps, a lot of women even today — especially those of us in childbearing years — are internally wired to initially reject bitter stuff.
But sour, now that is the flavor of unripe berries and other fruit still on the vine or tree. Cavewoman might not have had the luxury of letting those fruits ripen a bit more before eating them or feeding them to the kiddos. Women’s brains developed to not give us the “danger” signal with sour flavors like it did with bitter.
Of course, that’s not to say that with some practice, we can’t overcome this natural distaste. And there are some women, Yours Truly included, who love bitter flavors. I have to admit that it did take me some time to work my way up the IBU scale (it’s always work, work, work!). But now hoppy beers are among my favorite styles.
What do you think? Why are some women who just can’t get their lips around a hoppy IPA falling in love with some really sour beers? Are sour beers a trend with staying power or just a passing fad? What sour beers would you suggest to someone who is new to them?
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