Woman’s home brew comp ban sparks frenzy

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The Queenstowner banned from a home-brew contest because she’s a woman has been inundated with media requests and brewery invites. 

Booze giant Dominion Breweries and the female team leader at Dunedin’s Speight’s Brewery have both invited the aptly-named Rachel Beer to tour their respective plants. 

Mountain Scene broke the story yesterday (Thursday) about how Beer tried to enter her tipple in the home brew competition at Saturday’s Lake Hayes A&P Show but was told it was “blokes-only”.

The plight of 36-year-old Beer (and, yes, that is her real name) has since featured on TV3’s primetime news, the cover of the country’s biggest newspaper The New Zealand Herald, and in Australian media. She’s also been invited to do an interview on breakfast television across the ditch.
 
“Who cares if I have or haven’t got balls?” she fumed. 

“At the end of the day a home brew is a home brew.” 

Support for Beer has come from the Society of Beer Advocates (SOBA). 

Press secretary Martin Bulmer has emailed her to say: “We were a little shocked to read on Mountain Scene that you were barred from entering a homebrew competition.” 

Bulmer says his society is keen to feature her beer in a website article about women in brewing. 

SOBA is a New Zealand pressure group set up to campaign for “beer for all the right reasons”. 

Beer, whose tipple is called ‘Beer’s Beer’, was told by the chief steward she could enter but wouldn’t be judged.

“There’s no point entering a beer if it’s not going to be judged whether it’s gold or mud,” she says. 

Beer stresses she’s got nothing against the Lake Hayes show. 

“I think it’s fantastic. But it’d be great if the rules could be changed to meet modern times.” 

A Human Rights Commission spokesperson says: “On the face of it, the competition may be breaching the Human Rights Act but in the absence of a complaint and full details of the competition the Commission is unable to comment any further.”

Beer says she doesn’t intend complaining to the Human Rights Commission. 

“It’s more just the principle of the matter. Perhaps they’ll consider a home-brew competition for females,” she says. 

“But I would love to enter in the competition with the males, as there are some mighty talented home-brew gents out there who I’d love to compete with.” 

Beer, who admits she was taught by a bloke, says she’s put down about half a dozen brews in the past three or four years. 

“I gift quite a lot to friends. They might be lying when they say it’s great, but they always ask for more.” 

Ironically, one of the two labels for her ales, lagers and pilseners is a picture of Lake Hayes. 

Show president Mike Smith says he doesn’t want to comment on whether or not the “blokes only” rule is sexist. 

“I didn’t even know there was a brewing competition.” 

Smith suggests Beer put a proposal to his committee for a women’s or mixed sex section next year. 

“I’m sure the show can make room for it in the next round.”