When you next quench your TGIF thirst, consider visiting or supporting a queer-owned beer maker!
With craft beer being the multibillion-dollar industry that it is, it’s not all about straight beer bros. While historically, the industry has been predominantly male and straight, over the last few years there has been a surge in queer-owned breweries. Not only are they diversifying the industry, but oftentimes they are using their profits and influence to support charities and activism. The following is a small list of LGBTQ+-owned breweries around the United States, using their talents to fill our bellies and facilitate change.
Red Bear Brewing Co. (Washington, DC)
Red Bear Brewing Co. is the brainchild of Simon Bee, Bryan Van Den Oever, and Cameron Raspet. Originally from Seattle Washington, these guys brought their west coast sensibilities and infused them into their business. Sustainability is a core value of the brewery, and they are actively working towards a “B Corporation” certification. A “B Corporation” status is bestowed upon a company after an in-depth reviewal process ensures that an organization is operating with the highest levels of social and environmental responsibility.
The guys don’t let their passion for the environment interfere with having a good time though. With brews such as “Tastes Like Flannel (with notes of pine, grapefruit, and resin) and “Hefe Don’t Preach” (banana, clove, wheat); it’s clear that they bring a sense of adventure and fun to their work.
Guardian Brewing Company (Saugatuck, Michigan)
Kim Collins and Dr. Catherine Bishop co-founded this Saugatuck, Michigan brewery in 2018. The team at Guardian Brewing Company has made a fervent commitment to philanthropic work and consistently gives donations and holds events for organizations that align with their beliefs and values. Past beneficiaries include Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance, Out on the Lakeshore, and Drag Queen Story Hour.
Their brews, in addition to their food menu, are seasonal since most ingredients are sourced locally. Popular selections off the menu include “Majik”- a German-inspired pilsner made with Michigan hops and “As Luck Would Have It” – a cream ale brewed with local cherries and vanilla beans.
Provincetown Brewing Co. (Cape Cod, Massachusetts)
Yes, the legendary queer resort town and artist colony on Cape Cod has its very own brewery! Christopher Hartley opened up the brewery in 2019 with his business partner Erik Borg and a team of close friends. Committed to social justice and activism, Provincetown Brewing Co. has coined the term ‘draftivism’ to describe its business philosophy. Every product they sell highlights a cause or organization they care about. Fifteen percent of all profits are donated to these various causes which include Immigration Equality, Rainbow Railroad, and the Transgender Emergency Fund of Massachusetts.
Bow & Arrow Brewing Co. (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Two queer Native American women own and operate this brewing company. Shyla Sheppard left her career in corporate investing to pursue her passion for craft beer and built the brewery from the ground up with help from her wife, Dr. Missy Begay. The couple routinely releases new brews inspired by the American Southwest, which in addition to a few staples, comprise a varied and sophisticated draft list. The “Denim Tux” is a Blue Corn American pilsner and is one of the brewery’s bestsellers. The “Flora Vista,” an oatmeal stout, is another popular choice amongst their customers.
Last year, Bow & Arrow announced their Native Land Campaign. They developed the “Native Land IPA” recipe and packaging for collaboration with other breweries across the U.S. The program will run from November of 2021 until March of 2022. In order to participate a brewery would need to acknowledge on their labels the names of the ancestral Native tribes upon which they are located and commit to donating profits. The objective is to further the visibility of Native people and to generate resources to support Native organizations. To date, 52 breweries have joined the initiative across 24 states.
Urban Growler (St. Paul, Minnesota)
Urban Growler has the distinction of being the first women-owned microbrewery in St Paul, Minnesota. After years of research, fundraising, and visiting taprooms, Deb Loch and Jill Pavalak opened this Minnesotan mainstay in 2014. Their menu is as varied as it is delicious. One of their banner flagship options is the “Kentucky Uncommon.” This popular pre-Prohibition recipe takes the Kentucky bourbon recipe and modifies it for beer, with Growler’s own special twist, of course.
The brewery also has a commitment to the community as evidenced by their “Plow to Pint” series of beers. Unlike all the others, these brews utilize the harvest of local farmers to ensure a unique regional blend. The 2021 creation was “Honey Beer,” brewed with local wildflower honey. In addition to that, they routinely offer free events for the community to enjoy such as “Books and Bars” (a new spin on book clubs, Girl Scout cookie drives, and a blood drive for the American Red Cross.