It also does so without having its Woodchuck mascot smash a can over its head, ogle women on the beach or drive a 550-horsepower muscle car through an orchard. Beer drinkers may have been deluged by chauvinistic, gender-specific ad campaigns for decades, but that doesn't mean they're idiots. If you offer them flavor they love in a slightly different format, they'll give it a try.
During the tasting at Reverend Nat's, hundreds of people streamed in and waited on quick-moving lines for samples of hopped cider. Unlike the Oregon Beer Festival, the Oregon Fresh Hop Beer Festival and many of the other beer festivals I've attended here, it was a near-even split of men and women not only on the tasting lines, but behind the taps and pitchers. Nat West's reluctance to genderize cider gave hip an event where gender wasn't a factor and drinks with fistfuls of hops in them weren't deal breakers. From young male and female soccer fans in their game-day Timbers scarves to older couples in more formal attire who looked as if they'd just stumbled upon the place after walking from a Convention Center hotel, the crowd in the garage-sized cidery was a plurality that big beer marketing teams only dream about.
Cider still has a small following compared to the beer industry's, but it has some outsized lessons to teach the big brewers encroaching on its turf. The most important is that they already have the tools to convert bored light lager drinkers into bubbly cider lovers. They just need to close down the He-Man Woman-Hater's Club and invest in better ingredients and a broader spectrum.
-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.
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