The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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January 10, 2014

Stout supporters: All-female beer club established in time for Saturday's Craft Beer Expo

All-female beer club among those attending Saturday's Craft Beer Expo

Coming up during the second Mankato Craft Beer Expo on Saturday:

More tickets, more breweries — and, if local beer drinkers mirror national trends, more women.

According to statistics kept by the Brewing Association, the output of craft brewers grew 15 percent by volume and 17 percent by dollar sales in 2012. All signs indicate those numbers were nearly replicated in 2013.

At the same time, more and more women are being tapped to join the movement. One survey commissioned by the Alcoholic Beverage DemandTracker found that the number of women who identified beer as their favorite beverage grew from 24 percent to 26 percent in 2013. The same survey also found that women are more likely than men to say they were drinking more beer due to “finding new brands” (39 percent of women vs. 36 percent of men) and “finding new flavors” (38 percent of women vs. 31 percent of men).

Couple those numbers with the belief that women make or influence 85 percent of all purchasing decisions and it's clear that craft breweries should be taking notice.

Angi Drynock-Proehl certainly has. She's the director of Barley's Angels of Southern Minnesota, a recently started chapter of a national organization whose mission is to bring together women who have an interest in beer.

"Women like beer," Drynock-Proehl said. "They just need to try it. Actually, maybe they need to be invited to try it. We need to stop thinking that beer is a man's drink, or that men are the only people in beer.

Launched in October of 2013, Barley's Angels has now collected 18 full members and has held a slate of events, from regular meetings and tastings to a recent tour of the Mankato Brewery. Drynock-Proehl said Barley's Angels is more than a social drinking club and that events are intended to be fun and educational. Events in the future, she said, will include trips to distribution centers, home-brewing workshops and group dinners, among others.

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