The ladies-only beer club of Sweden launches their first pale ale

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Marco Werman: You know what else is strange? Why brewing always seems to be the business of men. Like in Scandinavia, the craft beer scene there is booming but it remains a boy’s club. Even in places as progressive as Sweden. It seems the guys just can’t grasp that girls like beer.


Elin Carlsson: The guys think that girls should drink fruity beers, or light beers, or not-so-big beers.


Werman: Elin Carlsson of Gothenburg is kind of sick of it. She says it’s dumb to think her girlfriends don’t like beer, especially when there are so many different types.


Carlsson: All the things from sour beer to stouts to amber ales, you have a lot of different styles.


Werman: But the men in her town still don’t get it--girls like craft beer. Just take this story Carlsson heard from her bartender friend.


Carlsson: A lot of times, guys come to her and they say “Oh, can I talk to someone that knows something about beers,” and she’s like “Yeah, but I work in the bar, I know stuff about beer,” but they won’t listen to her.


Werman: Imagine what Carlsson thought of that.


Carlsson: Yeah, I think it’s crazy.


Werman: So, two years ago she started a group called Fem Ale on Facebook. The group would alert women to bars that had great beers on tap. Fem Ale also arranged tastings at local breweries. And guess what? Yeah, women like beer.


Carlsson: Friends of mine, they talk to their girlfriends and their mothers, so a lot of people came to the tastings.


Werman: Not only that, but a dude-free zone meant the women felt more comfortable getting into the finer points about beer.


Carlsson: A lot of women, they ask things about the beers and they are interested, and they say that if they were on a beer tasting with only guys, they wouldn’t ask those kinds of questions.


Werman: So, a total success, unless you want to go deeper, like Carlsson’s bartender friend, who, after going to the tastings, suggested to Carlsson “Let’s brew some ourselves.”


Carlsson: We got together a few women and we talked to a brewery called Ocean Brewery here in Gothenburg and asked them if they were interested in brewing a bar.


Werman: Ocean said yes, so the women of Fem Ale came up with a recipe and went all in, brewing a 423-gallon batch.


Carlsson: We brewed a pale ale. It’s a little more bitter and it has a lot of hops in it, so it’s kind of a fresh, bitter pale ale.


Werman: Fem Ale’s beer topped out at 4.3%. That meant the Swedish government had to approve it for sale in state-run liqour stores. Undeterred, the women got the go-ahead from officials. Now they just needed a name for all that beer.


Carlsson: We Can Do It.


Werman: That is the name, a node to Rosie the Riveter.


Carlsson: Yeah, exactly.


Werman: So, any good?


Carlsson: That batch sold out before we even brewed it, you could say.


Werman: And already a couple of small breweries have approached Fem Ale about partnering with them for more beer. Carlsson’s fine with that.


Carlsson: I think it’s good to involve more women in it, just to show them how it’s done.


Werman: Elin Carlsson, founder of Fem Ale in Gothenburg, Sweden, the all-female brewers behind We Can Do It Pale Ale.