Ale Street News December 2006/January 2007

Suzanne Woods is In Pursuit of Ale!

By Rich Wagner

I met Suzanne Woods at the New Jersey Craft Brewers Guild Festival in June shortly after she established her women’s beer club, In Pursuit of Ale (IPA). She explained that its purpose was to educate women about beer and get members together to enjoy beer in some of Philadelphia’s best beer bars. When asked if I’d consider being a speaker I told her the club sounded like a great idea, gave her my card and said I’d be happy to participate. I didn’t think much more about it, but it did prompt me to reflect on my own “learning curve” when it came to beer appreciation.

When I started pouring beer at festivals I thought women would prefer lighter beers, or those flavored with raspberries. I quickly learned that women were anxious to try the whole spectrum of beer styles. It seems my perception had been affected by mainstream advertising which is aimed almost exclusively towards men. With the advent of craft brewing a lot of the old stereotypes associated with both beer and gender just don’t apply. Women tend to be better “tasters” in general and are frequently more willing to try new and different foods, so it’s natural that they should be more adventurous when it comes to exploring the plethora of beer flavors and styles.

So far IPA has visited For Pete’s Sake, South Philly Taproom, Nodding Head Brewery and Restaurant, and Philadelphia’s newest bowling alley, the North BowL in Northern Liberties, which features an extensive lineup of craft brews. Bridget Foy’s even did a beer and food pairing event for the group.

The club has attracted the attention of Philadelphia Weekly, and even Daily News columnist Don Russell, aka “Joe Sixpack,” who attended a meeting in August to discuss Miller’s “Man Rules” ad campaign. Suzanne has done a Beer Radio interview, which you can hear online as a podcast, and more recently was interviewed on Ed Hitzel’s radio show from Somers Point, NJ and is scheduled to be on his MNBC affiliate TV show.

A few members recently got together to try their hand at homebrewing and make a batch of Brown Ale. Home Sweet Homebrew’s George Hummel set them up with everything they needed and even donated some of the ingredients. His recipe involved a partial mash, lots of Kent Goldings hops and traditional British ale yeast.

Visit to read more about the club, upcoming events and Suzanne’s blog.