And now it’s time for Foodstuffs, our regular look at food and food culture in the Granite State.
A new beer on tap at Portsmouth Brewery does more than give you a buzz. It aims to ease the symptoms of menopause. It’s called Libeeration, and several years ago, when Joanne Francis pitched the idea to her colleagues at the brewery, the men didn’t get it.
"It was met with nothing short of disdain and horror," she says. "And I'm not exaggerating when I say that."
A beer for just women? No way. Francis, who is 58, co-owns the brewery, so she could have pushed it through, but she says she wanted everyone believe in it. Years later, she pitched the idea again.
"And Matt Gallagher, our head brewer here at the Portsmouth Brewery, said, 'Let's just brew it here. Let's make it here.' So we did."
Downstairs at the brewery, in the relatively quiet event space, Francis fills a balloon glass of Libeeration, a gruet that's meant to celebrate the time in a women's life that can often be fraught with hot flashes, mood swings, and broken sleep. The many herbs and spices in the beer were carefully selected to provide a mellow feeling.
"Motherwort, lemon balm, mugwort, damiana, chickweed, stinging nettles, and rosebuds," she says. "And then we use saphir hops, which have a tangerine flavor."
It's on the lighter side, citrus-y, not bitter or hoppy – yes, men can drink it too. Francis says she's getting lots of great feedback about the beer – both the taste and the concept.
"I'm getting hundreds of right-on, power-to-the-women emails. And power to us older women who have been marginalized," she says. She says women have been mostly ignored by the beer industry, which typically markets beer to young men.
Upstairs in the brew pub, Lori Talanian of Arlington, Massachusetts is here with some of her girlfriends. She's 54. And she says she has experienced hot flashes and mood swings. She's giving Libeeration a try.
"I will say it is smooth."
So it passed the taste test. But what about the concept--a beer for menopausal women?
"I think we're pretty desperate. Anything that works that's not drug-induced would be good. So good for them! If it works, that's great."
Talanian says she would try it again, even though she doesn't consider herself a beer-drinker.
Joanne Francis says as word gets out, even her girlfriends ask her in round-about ways how they can get it.
"I find women are buying cases of this beer so that they can share it. If we sold it in a four-pack, one bottle would be for the person buying that four-pack, and she would give the other three bottles to friends."
Right now, Libeeration is only available at Portsmouth Brewery and Smuttynose in Hampton. But she says she's working on licensing to produce it on a larger scale for women all over the east coast.