Barley's Angels: Women & Beer 

Amber Mills: Learn about great beer with chill women

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click to enlarge Amber Mills - RACHEL PIPER
  • Rachel Piper
  • Amber Mills

Cosmopolitans: so 10 years ago. Wine: so predictable. What’s the drink of choice for hip young women these days? Craft beer. Longtime beer lover Amber Mills is on the planning committee of the Utah chapter of Barley’s Angels, an international organization dedicated to educating women about craft beer. Founded in 2012 by Alexandra Ortiz of Park City’s Shades of Pale Brewing, Barley’s Angels has previously hosted a beer & chocolate pairing night and a beer cocktails event, and is planning brewery tours, home-brewing classes, beer & cheese pairings and road trips to nearby beer festivals. Their next event is a beer & food pairing at Squatters (Sunday, April 7, 147 W. Broadway, 5 p.m., $20, Facebook.com/BarleysAngelsUtah).

Is Barley’s Angels just a boozy, girls-only drinking club?

We are not a drinking club. We’re not just looking for an excuse to get out and get drunk together—it’s educational. We respect beer and the process behind it. We’re excited about learning about all the components. Our mission is promoting women and craft beer: educating women in the brewing aspect, or knowing the different kinds of beer, the different glasses you should drink them from. And really, to get women involved, because it’s such a male-dominated society. We’re not men-haters—we’re not here to take the beer from the men, but we’re an under-recognized demographic in craft beer. We want to let women know it’s OK to love beer.

Why is beer culture dominated by dudes?

I think media has a lot to do with it, with the way they portray it in commercials—drink this beer and you’ll get this hot girl. I think a lot of women don’t like beer ... humans tend to do what their peers do, and women tend to go out and have cocktails, or wine. Not very many women say, “Hey, let’s go get a beer.”

What mistakes do women make that cause them to hate beer?

No. 1 mistake: Drinking bad beer. And by bad beer, I mean the usual suspects—Budweiser, Coors. Those are mass-produced with very cheap ingredients; there’s no heart and soul behind it. Typically, they’re not even brewed with true beer ingredients. You’re not going to get the flavors. The people who make craft beers—that’s their life, that’s their soul. When you can learn the flavors that you’re looking for, it’s just like wine—you can pick out the flavors: chocolate, coffee, even raisin, coconut. These things are very subtle, but once you develop a palate, you can look for those things. That may not work for everybody, but it’s what gets me really excited.

How can someone develop a taste for beer—or do they need to?

My mom hates beer, and I’m just bound and determined to get her to like it. So every time we go out together, it’s like, “Try this one, OK, now try this one.” We did find that she likes Lambic, so that’s a good starting point. And she’ll try my home brews—she’s such a good mother. But that’s definitely a good way—just try them, and find what you like. It’s definitely an acquired taste, and some people may never like it. Even in Barley’s Angels, people who don’t necessarily love beer still come, because it’s such a cool community of women—and they’re going to learn about it. It’s easy to learn about things with your peers, surrounded by like-minded women. And knowledge is definitely going to be something that’s going to change the laws here. The more people know about what’s going on, the better things you’re going to get for the people who participate in drinking.

Did you have to develop a taste for beer?

It’s just something that I’ve always enjoyed. I never really got into wine; I never did the whole liquor thing. I do enjoy those things, but beer is where my interest is—it’s what I love. Really, from the beginning, there hasn’t been a beer that I didn’t like. I certainly go through periods where I drink a lot of one kind of beer. Then I get burned out, and I try something that’s new and fresh. Sometimes it changes with the seasons—I drink a lot of dark porters and stouts in the winter, go with something lighter in the spring and summer, obviously pumpkin beers in the fall.

Do I need a bunch of different glasses for different types of beer like I do for wine?

You can still enjoy a beer out of a pint glass, but there are types of beer that the flavors are going to be more pronounced in another type of glass. I’ll be honest—I’m a pint-glass girl, so I haven’t taken a lot of time. Another class we’re going to have is glassware for your beers. The lighter, fruitier beers, they serve in those Chimay goblets—something about how the liquid is distributed and the aromas come out enhances the flavor

Rachel Piper Twitter: @RachelTachel

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