Every woman likes a good love story. This is my love story -- not in the Christian Grey vein -- my love story is with beer.

I started working in the beer business about 12 years ago. At that time, my bar call tended towards mixed drinks. I could barely choke down a light domestic brand. My experience with beer was essentially that it's marketing only targeted men, using hot chicks in tight outfits to lure men to drink Brand X in hopes of also landing said hot chick. I was not impressed. What I discovered is my female friends felt the same way. They tended to drink cocktails and wine and did not particularly like the taste of beer. It felt "unladylike" to have a beer glass in hand rather than a glass of wine or a cocktail. After a few years of dwelling in the land of light domestic beers, I tried my first craft beer and discovered that my palette for both food and drink was maturing. That is when my love affair with American craft beers began.

Since then, I have tried hundreds of different American craft beers. I simply love beer. I love the floral hop aroma; I love the toasty maltiness. I love beer paired with just the right kind of food to make both the beer and the food taste that much better. To put it simply, the taste of great beer is like a thousand little angels dancing on my tongue. For my friends who claim to only love wine, I encourage them to try their first porter with a nice piece of chocolate cake. The result? They love it. Craft beer is available in hundreds of different styles, from over a thousand different American craft breweries so there truly is a perfect pint out there for everyone.

I have a great passion for beer. I don't even mind sharing my love affair. I love talking about it, and I love to enjoy it with friends. I was very encouraged to see so many women at this year's Bismarck Beerfest trying new styles of beer. Beer is not just for men anymore. In fact, there are women popping up all over the craft beer industry. Some of your favorite beers may be brewed by women. Ladies, it's time to set down the martini and wine glasses, pick up a pint or snifter of beer. Sip. Savor. Repeat.

Beer chicks

* A 2010 Gallop poll said 27 percent of women prefer beer over wine and liquor. That number grows each year. Interestingly, that number is higher with "drinking craft beer" than with drinking beer overall.

* 87 percent of household purchases are made by women, which is why they are an important growth group for the beer industry.

* "The Pink Boots Society" was founded to unite women in the beer industry. Women make up about 10 percent of total beer industry employees.

Source: Brewer's Association

Shannon McQuade-Ely is the President of McQuade Distributing Company, Inc. a beer distributor in Bismarck. She enjoys travelling with her family, all outdoor activities and sipping beer with friends or alone on her deck. Cheers!