5 Women-Owned Breweries
Story by Rebecca Treon
The craft beer brewing industry has long been male dominated, something women are striving to change. A wave of female innovators is creating delicious brews while bringing their own unique experiences to the fore. Here are five women-owned breweries around the country you can explore no matter your gender or preferred style of beer.
TALEA Beer Co.
Both MBAs and avid homebrewers, LeAnn Darland and Tara Hankinson met in 2018 while working at beer startup Hopsy after ditching their tech jobs. Within a few short months, the duo formed TALEA Beer Co., looking to create beers that would disrupt the brewing industry and speak to a wider audience. They found that many craft beers are either aimed at typical beer bros and come in confusing or intimidating packaging or, if trying to reach female consumers, is pinkwashed.
In 2021, the duo opened New York City’s first female-owned taproom in Williamsburg (they also both became moms, their most challenging endeavor yet). The space, in contrast with the industrial vibe of many breweries, is light and airy with modern wood and marble elements. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon sampling a flight or a glass of easy-drinking, flavor-forward beers, like Sun Up Hazy IPA or Pink Berry Punch Sour Ale. Many Brooklynites have made TALEA’s taproom their HQ while working remotely, though the beers are just as tasty and approachable when enjoyed at home—the brewery also offers beers to go.
Superior Brewing Co.
Hot Springs, Arkansas, is known for its natural heated mineral water springs, which provided the water for popular bathhouses lining the downtown boulevard in the early 20th century. As bathhouses fell out of vogue, many of the buildings (which are inside of Hot Springs National Park) sat vacant and fell into disrepair. When Rose Schweikhart moved to Hot Springs in 2011, she had a lofty dream to brew beer using the city’s famed 144-degree spring water. She restored the Superior Bathhouse which had been abandoned for more than 30 years. Today, Superior Brewing Co. is the only brewery located in a U.S. National Park and the only brewery in the world to use thermal spring water to make beer.
Superior has a rotating craft beer menu that includes styles from Kolsch to stout. Beers can be ordered as flights and by the glass to enjoy onsite or take to-go in two growler sizes. Hungry? The place also offers a menu that spans the globe, from tacos to tom yum soup, alongside familiar pub favorites like giant soft pretzels. The beautifully restored bathhouse-turned-brewery is situated on Bathhouse Row, making it a convenient stop during an afternoon of shopping, strolling the park, or soaking in a hot springs bath.
Lady Justice Brewing Company
In 2010, when Betsy Lay, Kate Power, and Jen Cuesta were serving in AmeriCorps together, they asked themselves what it would take to brew beer and give the proceeds back to the community. Already doing good, they started home brewing in a tiny storage space. Over the past 11 years, their project has grown into a flourishing taproom-slash-social movement called Lady Justice Brewing Company. Located in Aurora, Colorado (a suburb of Denver), the community-focused brewery today donates a majority of its profits to grants that promote the status of women and girls in Colorado, to Black-owned and operated organizations, and to LGBTQ+ causes.
Lady Justice has 10 beers on tap, all with catchy, politically-inspired names like Sandra Day IPA, plus hard seltzers, zero-proof options, and food. The taproom has large garage-style doors that open for an outside-in feel, a spacious patio, and an Instagram-worthy mural of activists Dolores Huerta, Marsha P. Johnson, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The CSB beer membership features growlers of a different beer each month and beers are available to be shipped to Pennsylvania, Missouri, Maine, Illinois, D.C., Florida, New York, Connecticut, and Alaska.
Bow & Arrow Brewing Co.
Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Bow & Arrow Brewing Co. is the only brewery in the U.S. that is owned by Native American women. Shyla Sheppard, co-founder, president, and CEO, grew up on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota and is a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes. With an economics degree from Stanford, she spent 10 years at a social impact investing firm before investing in her own dream. Missy Begay, co-founder and creative director, was raised on the Navajo (Dine) Nation and is the granddaughter of silversmiths and weavers. She has a BA from Stanford and an MD from the University of New Mexico. Partners in business and in life, the couple decided to fill a niche in the craft beer industry and launched their own brewery in 2013.
Bow and Arrow’s spacious tap room manages to feel cozy despite its size—it’s lined with long, white, communal-style picnic tables and shiplap paneling on the walls. The beer hall hosts local food trucks almost daily. The beers are available on tap or in beautifully-designed cans and include a range of styles inspired by the Southwest, like the Denim Tux Blue Corn American Pilsner or the Hola Hazy IPA, plus a hard seltzer infused with prickly pear and juniper. Served and sold across New Mexico, Bow & Arrow plans to expand into the Four Corners area, where the Rambler Taproom will open in 2021 in Farmington.
Urban Growler Brewing Company
Located in St. Paul, Urban Growler Brewing Company is Minnesota’s first woman-owned microbrewery. Deb Loch and Jill Pavlak left careers in biomedical engineering and in sales, respectively, to chase a dream of opening a brewery together with the ethos of “Someday is NOW.” They converted a 19th century former stable into a brewery, tap room, and beer garden. Inspired by their visits to other breweries around the country, they aim to connect people over a glass of beer. After being rejected by a dozen banks (seriously) they opened in 2014. The 13th bank said yes—and so did they—they married on a Friday the 13th in 2013 since 13 has proven to be a lucky number for the couple.
The Hayloft Series of beers features small batches of experimental beers before a huge batch is brewed. Plow to Pint beers are brewed using the harvest from local farmers to create unique beers. There are seasonal beers and limited releases in addition to flagship beers such as the Cowbell Cream Ale, the De-Lovely Porter, and the Vanilla Latte IPA. A menu of pub food like burgers, beer cheese soup, hearty sandwiches and sharable appetizers is offered, and a traditional fish fry is hosted on Fridays in homage to Loch’s Wisconsin roots.
Plan A Trip
Options abound for lodging and dining in the New York area, but you can stay close to TALEA by getting a room at the Williamsburg Hotel. The ultra-hip Brooklyn neighborhood has everything you could possibly crave; one great option is Peruvian food from the Llama Inn. Find more details to help plan your trip in the New York City Official Guide.
In Hot Springs, I personally recommend a stay at The Waters Hotel. Be sure to stop for barbecue at the famous McClard’s, where Bill Clinton took Hillary for dinner after proposing. Discover more at Visit Hot Springs, Arkansas and Arkansas Tourism.
In Aurora, stay at the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center, (another personal favorite) which offers wonderful amenities and activities. When it comes to dining, the world is your oyster: there are more ethnicities per capita in Aurora than in Los Angeles! Choose any of the city’s independent ethnic restaurants (a complete guide is on the Visit Aurora website). Also check out Colorado Tourism.
In Albuquerque, Hotel Andaluz is an upscale, central hotel with a unique vibe. Dining in New Mexico is an experience to savor; you can’t turn your head without running into some red or green chile sauce! Duran’s Central Pharmacy is an Albuquerque classic. Get a plate of smothered blue corn enchiladas and take a dozen tamales to go—before you can visit, you can have the sauce shipped to your door, wherever you live. For more information, see Visit Albuquerque and New Mexico True.
Urban Growler is fairly close to the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, so there are hotels in spades. I like the Canopy by Hilton Minneapolis for its central location and overall ambiance. While the city is known for its gut-busting burgers, Victor’s 1959 Café will transport you to Cuba with its brightly muralled walls and classic Cuban fare. Find details on all the local attractions at Visit St. Paul and Explore Minnesota.
Rebecca Treon is a Denver-based food and travel writer who has written for BBC Travel, Hemispheres, Time Out, and many others. Always eager for the next adventure, when not writing or traveling she’s gardening, hiking, and camping in Colorado’s great outdoors with her two kids.