Teresa Hackwith sipped her first craft beer a few years back at a brewpub in Omaha's Old Market.
It was a scotch ale, and she remembers the creamy, malty flavor.
Her taste buds popped.
It wasn't anything like those fizzy yellow American beers she occasionally drank.
"It was yummy," she says.
Craft beer — which used to be known as microbrew — is growing in popularity, and women are increasingly part of the trend.
Women are buying more craft beer at retailers, sampling more varieties at pubs and even brewing it at home.
Craft beers are produced by small independent brewers known for innovation, like making beers with hints of chocolate or fruits like apricot and cherry.
Hackwith, 49, recently joined the Nebraska chapter of a group for women interested in craft beer. The national group, called Barley's Angels, formed last year and has more than a half-dozen state chapters.
The 40 members of the Nebraska chapter tour craft breweries, sample new beers and learn about the art of brewing. Drawing more women into the craft beer industry is one goal of the group.
Angela Arp, co-founder of the Nebraska chapter, said the growing variety of craft beers draws women because it's easier to find a style and flavor they like.
Maybe it's a honey beer, or a fruit beer or a pumpkin beer for the fall. Maybe it's a beer with hints of vanilla, nut or citrus.
Nationally, the number of craft brewers has grown to 1,900 in the past six years, a 35 percent increase, according to the Brewers Association, a Colorado-based industry group.
Nebraska and western Iowa now have at least a dozen craft brewers, more than double the number five years ago, said Arp, social media and events coordinator for the Nebraska Brewing Co. in Papillion.
More retailers, like Beertopia in midtown Omaha and Brix at Village Pointe in west Omaha, are offering a big lineup of craft beer.
Even grocery stores are expanding their selections. The Hy-Vee near 144th and Q Streets in Omaha, for example, carries more than 700 types of craft beers and imports.
Aaron Bush, store manager at Beertopia, says more than 25 percent of his customers are women, up from less than 10 percent when the store opened five years ago.
Hackwith, of Bellevue, said it's not always easy convincing friends to try craft beer. When some women think of beer, she said, they think of that warm Bud Light they drank at a tailgate party in college.
If she gets friends to try a craft beer, they're surprised they actually like it.
They'll say, "This is beer?"
Tap houses have noticed more women sampling craft beer.
Bob Griggs, manager at Omaha's Library Pub, said it was more common in the past for women to let their husbands or boyfriends pick a beer for them.
These days, more women know just what they want, such as an Espresso Oak Aged Yeti, a heavy stout with a bold taste that's brewed in Denver.
"A woman comes in for that (and) it's a dead giveaway she knows what she's doing,'' he said.
Charles Johnson, a manager at El Bait Shop bar in downtown Des Moines, said more women are sipping India Pale Ale, a craft beer that can pack an intense but appealing bitterness.
Julia Herz of the Brewers Association said the foodie trend has attracted more women to craft beers. Women like pairing beer with food, and we're not necessarily talking Miller Lite and a pepperoni pizza.
Maybe it's curried carrot soup with an India Pale Ale or orange-crusted trout with an ale that carries hints of Chardonnay wine.
At a Barley's Angels event, women even paired chocolate with different flavors of craft beer.
Hackwith is a fan of the chocolate-beer combination.
"It was amazing,'' she said. "They bring out the flavor in each other."
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