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Saturday, Apr 19th

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Matt Eley: How do you like your eggs in the morning ladies? With beer please

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How about this for the start of a working day: Seven different beers, with seven different breakfasts in the company of about 20 women. In a pub.

Sounds all right that, doesn’t it?

Well, this was how I eased away a hangover towards the end of last week and even managed to learn a little bit in the process.

The Beer and Breakfast event was run by Dea Latis, at the Somers Town Coffee House in London. Just getting an invite to this was quite a coup because, you see, I am a man and Dea Latis (the Celtic Goddess for beer and water, since you asked) has been set up for women in the industry to get together and talk about beer and work.

My view before attending was that surely a club such as this in the 21st Century is actually a little bit, well, sexist. Isn’t it discriminatory to have a club just for one gender? Isn’t this exactly why Augusta National gets a rough time every time the Masters rolls around?

Unfortunately, nobody has ever invited me to golf’s first major of the season to explore that one further but last week I was lucky enough to get the Dea Latis nod instead.

I arrived early. A lot of the women were fashionably late. But that is where the stereotypes will end.

The session started with an inspiring opening speech by beer writer and sommelier Jane Peyton. She made lots of points on things I didn’t know much about, such as yeast being ‘female’ and how women have brewed throughout history.

She also said that what really needs to change is not female perceptions of beer but male perceptions of women who drink beer.
That induced a few knowing glances. Especially when she gave examples of how men had essentially dismissed her views on beer, despite her obvious passion and knowledge, because she is a she.

She explained how men can feel threatened or embarrassed when she talks about beer because they feel, as men, it is their subject and that they should know more about it. Marketing, pint glasses and ads are usually directed at men too.

But there is no good reason why men should actually enjoy drinking beer any more than women.

The discussion carried on at our table as we sampled beers with our breakfasts. I was sat near a brewer, a couple of beer writers and a few PRs and brewery workers.

They all knew their onions, or rather their hops and their malts, and talked passionately about why beer is a drink they love.

As the conversation flowed I began to see the point of the group. Go to any beer or pub industry event and you will inevitably find a room that is full of white, middle-aged, middle-class, men. That is never going to be the easiest environment for a female beer buff to be heard or taken seriously. It could also be a little off-putting if you are new to the trade.

At the Dea Latis event I was the minority. I was the sole representative of that demographic and I made up just five per cent of the attendees. The fact that I rather liked this temporary balance shift is neither here nor there. It just made me realise that actually there should be a place for women who work in the industry to get together and talk about the issues of the day, and what better way to do that than with a fairly informal beer tasting.

I also noticed that the conversation never became competitive or confrontational. Get a bunch of men together to talk about beer, football, cars or whatever and inevitably there will be a stand-off between a couple of alphas over who knows the most or the accuracy of a certain statement. There was none of that here.

It was a very civilised event with a bunch of people enjoying beer who happened to all be women. I’d join full time if they’d let me, but I don’t think I meet the criteria. But if you do happen to be a women reading this and you fancy getting involved I’d encourage you to find out more by visiting here or following Dea Latis on Twitter here.

In case you were wondering, the beer and breakfast went down nicely, though I probably wouldn’t recommend starting every day in this way.

The most popular match, and a favourite with all of the men present and most of the women was St Austell Clouded Yellow with Poached Egg and Smoked Salmon with Hollandaise Drizzle.

Though you could do worse than starting Christmas Day with Black Pudding and drop of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord too.

Matt Eley is Inapub’s editor. Follow him on Twitter @mattheweley