Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into beer?

I’m Jane Peyton and I’m a beer sommelier. Originally from Yorkshire, I got into beer from a young age going to the pub with family. My first drink was a light mild real ale and I loved the taste, the theatre of the pour and the big head on it. As a result, I’ve been a beer drinker for years.

I decided I wanted to have a career in beer, so I started a business called School of Booze and became accredited as a beer sommelier. Today I educate people about beer, organise events and write about beer.

So how did Beer Day Britain get started?

Beer Day Britain is a national beer day that has been running for several years now. I started it because Britain didn’t have a national beer day even though beer is Britain’s national alcoholic drink. I spoke to people in the beer industry and the pub trade and asked why we didn’t have one and nobody knew – so I said I’ll start one!

It’s incredible that it’s taken off so quickly and with such traction, supported by organisations like CAMRA, Society of Independent Brewers, the British Beer and Pub Association, and of course, beer drinkers. CAMRA has really helped to elevate this day and the volunteers and branches have been fantastic in getting people into the pubs to celebrate beer on Beer Day Britain.

So how can people get involved?

The main thing is to drink some beer – ideally in the pub! This year Beer Day Britain is on a Saturday (15th June) so there are plenty of opportunities for pub visits. If you can shout about it on social media and encourage your friends and family to get involved even better.

The focus of the day is the national #CheerstoBeer which happens at 7pm, and that really simple activity unites the country. All you have to do is raise a glass and take a photo for Twitter, Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #CheerstoBeer – every year we have trended on Twitter and it’s been fantastic. This simple gesture brings everyone together to support our national drink. After all beer tastes that much better when you’re drinking it with friends!

How does Beer Day Britain tie into a Summer of Pub?

Beer Day Britain ties in really well to Summer of Pub because both take place during the height of summer, offering plenty of opportunities to head to the pub and sit in a beer garden with the sun shining.  Both campaigns give you the chance to just remember how brilliant the pub is – whether you visit it with family, friends or on a date. Just head to the pub and make the most of our summer weather and beer which go so perfectly together!

Can you tell us a bit about your favourite beer?

It very much depends on the situation – if I’m in the mood for chatting one-to-one it would be a darker, heavier beer such as a Porter. If I’m with friends having fun on a casual occasion then I would choose something lighter such as a Golden Ale or an IPA. Hops in summer are especially refreshing and seem to cool you down in hot weather. So beer choice is dependent on mood, weather and company.

As we talk now I’m drinking a pint of SW19 by Wimbledon Brewery. It is delicious, like all their beers – well balanced so that you really get that lovely sweet, soft malty character. I’d say it’s a Golden Ale, verging on an English Pale Ale, but the hops are so gentle and balanced, it’s just a lovely drink that has been poured really well by the pub – the George Tavern in Southwark in South London.

Are there any changes you’d like to see in the beer industry?

Beer sales are going down, particularly in pubs because people aren’t going to the pub as often. The beer industry needs to find a new market – and that market exists already – it’s women. So the beer and the brewers, the marketers, the pubs, have to really think strategically how to get more women into pubs, to make them places where women feel comfortable, that women can drink beer if they want to without men making unsolicited comments about their drink choice. We need to change the attitude that many people have about women who drink beer as being unfeminine. Staff need to be trained not to sexually stereotype women and assume they will want a lighter, less bitter flavoured beer because they are women. There are many things that need to change if more women are to drink beer. It’s time to make a concerted effort to encourage that big potential market of beer drinkers.

Women don’t need to be treated in a different way when it comes to beer and they certainly don’t need a beer brewed for women. They don’t need to be petted, patronised and treated as some little slice of the market, they should be treated like drinkers who go to the pub. Then pubs will sell some more beer and us beer drinkers can be happy drinking beer and enjoying the national drink.

How do you think we can get more women interested in beer?

Only a minority of women in Britain drink beer which is disappointing because beer is a drink for everybody.  To get more women drinking beer we need to dispel some of the myths – that it’s a blokey drink, highly calorific / going to bloat you etc.  The reality is that beer is actually lower in alcohol than most drinks, measure for measure has fewer calories than any other alcoholic drink and has lots of nutritional benefits.

It will be tricky to get more women drinking beer because it means a change in the attitude of society and particularly the men who think beer is a man’s drink. There’s still this ridiculous concept that women who drink beer are unfeminine, when in reality it was women who were the original brewers of beer and for thousands of years were the primary brewers of beer. This perception has come about fairly recently with breweries and marketing businesses putting a masculine spin on beer and perpetuating the trope that beer is for the lads and that ‘women are spoiling our fun’ sort of attitude. This makes a lot of women I speak to say beer’s not the drink for them.

There’s also a perception from women that beer is too bitter for their tastes. If a woman says to me that is the reason she does drink beer I ask if they eat rocket, and drink coffee and Gin & Tonic. Invariably they say yes.  All three of those foods and drinks are bitter, in fact they can be more bitter than some beers. So it’s not bitterness per se it’s something else. I’ve given those women a big juicy and bitter IPA and they have said how delicious it was. Perception and preconceived notions are a big challenge in encouraging more women to drink beer. To quote the adage ‘If you can’t see it, you can’t be it’ so I think the more that women see other women drinking beer then they’ll think “oh that woman’s drinking beer, I can drink beer too”.

How do you think pubs can get women down to the pub for the Women’s World Cup?

It’s a fantastic summer this year – especially if you’re a footie fan – because it’s the Women’s FIFA World Cup. The best place to watch a footie match is down at the pub. The atmosphere is so incredible, everybody’s drinking beer and having a good old time at the boozer.

Hopefully pubs will televise the Women’s World Cup and encourage women to come in and watch the games. You don’t have to drink beer if you’re not a beer drinker, but go to the pub, watch the games, have that wonderful togetherness and help women in football because they need the same support as the men’s game. The more popular women’s football becomes the more matches that will be televised and sponsored. We need to get more people supporting women’s football because I can tell you one thing – you don’t get the diving and pretend falling over in the box and the shenanigans, yellow and red cards that happens in the men’s game – it’s just pure football, the beautiful game.

So let’s all go to the pub for the Summer of Pub, drink some beer, watch the women’s football and have a great time.

What’s next for Jane Peyton?

I run a business called School of Booze where I educate people about alcoholic drinks and recently I became an accredited pommelier (cider sommelier) so I’ve been doing a lot of work in the cider sector. There’s a lot of work to do to get more people drinking real cider. CAMRA is brilliant on that but there’s a real gap in knowledge about what cider actually is. Many people think that cider is the sweetened, diluted, concentrated apple juice alcopop that dominate the market. There’s a big job to do to educate people about real cider, so I’m doing a lot of that and meeting some lovely people in the cider world. I recently returned from Tasmania where I was the keynote speaker at the Australia Cider Conference.  I met some wonderful cider makers, some of whom are inspired by CAMRA to produce full juice, unadulterated real cider. CAMRA’s influence travels far!

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