Wigan beer figures speak out against industry sexism

Patsy Slevin of Prospect Brewery is speaking out for change
Patsy Slevin of Prospect Brewery is speaking out for change
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Prominent figures in the borough’s beer industry have given their views on a national campaign to rid real ale of sexist names, images and marketing.

The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) has started the new year with a crackdown on brewers who are thought to be demeaning women in how they label and sell their products.

Festivals have already removed ales with derogatory names or pump clips from their lists and women involved in brewing have been vocal in their demands for change.

The campaign has produced something of a mixed reaction locally, with everyone condemning openly-sexist attitudes but some questioning whether such a strong approach is actually needed.

One person in no doubt is Prospect Brewery owner Patsy Slevin, who has a simple message for those using groan-inducing humour or pictures of female skin.

“I think they need to grow up. It’s pathetic,” she said.

“There’s no place for it and it’s not necessary. Women are half the population and need to be taken notice of more.

“Men who think this is funny or whatever have clearly never been groped in a pub.”

Northern Beer Temple owner John Lomas also offered an interesting story about how pump clips and names influence pub customers’ behaviour.

The Standishgate bottle shop owner says he sees a newer generation of craft brewers strongly moving away from this old-fashioned marketing.

He said: “A barmaid told me that when her pub had those beers on customers would be more inappropriate with staff and the conversations would be different.

“Sensibilities do seem to be ahead in the craft world, the problems with sexist marketing are among the more traditional beers.

“For many people branding beer using a busty woman is just the norm, but obviously not everyone appreciates it and it’s not inclusive.

“I don’t understand why you would alienate any part of your potential market when there are other ways of marketing beer.”

Wily Fox brewery managing director Andrea Cox, on the other hand, preferred to concentrate on how much has already been achieved in making the real ale world welcoming to both men and women.

She said: “I think what offends is a matter of individual taste. We don’t want it in the industry but I think there’s a lot less sexist pump clips and imagery now and I can’t remember the last time I walked into a pub and saw something that offended me.”

Jo Whalley, the manager of award-winning micropub Wigan Central, also sounded a note of caution.

She said: “Brewers need to be very careful because things can be offensive without any intention to be. There’s a history of this being acceptable but times have changed and they need to move with them.

“I think it should come down to common sense. I’m quite on the fence about the whole thing.

“If something is offensive enough to enough people it will have to be rebranded. I think people can vote with their feet and make these decisions on whether or not they want that kind of advertising.”