5 Queer, Women-Owned Breweries

These lesbiqueer-owned breweries let the hops do the talking.

If the point of drinking beer is to feel good while doing it, why not give back to the community at the same time? That’s one of the main criteria these five brewery owners seemed to have in common from the start. Next time you’re in New Jersey, New Mexico, Massachusetts, or Colorado, check out these heart-centered breweries.

Backward Flag, New Jersey

This Forked River-based lesbian- and veteran-owned brewery pays homage to military servicemembers and Gold Star families on the daily (presumably both definitions of that moniker). Army veteran Torie Fisher founded the brewery and attracts plenty of fellow military vets. Guests are encouraged to bring a service patch from a military, police, fire, or first aid unit not currently on the wall for a free pint. Food trucks are scheduled regularly at the taproom and outside food is permitted. Signs say children and dogs are welcome to join their family members at the beer garden, but take note: if unruly behavior persists, they will be put to work (not really, calm down). (699 Challenger Way, Forked River, NJ 08731; backwardflagbrewing.com @backwardflagbrewing)

Bow and Arrow, New Mexico

Albuquerque’s Indigenous- and queerowned brewery, Bow and Arrow, has its roots firmly planted in the heart of the American Southwest—an area of the country steeped in both history and inspiration. Entrepreneurs Shyla Sheppard and her wife Dr. Missy Begay founded Bow and Arrow in 2016, putting themselves on the map as the first Native American, women-owned brewery in the U.S. Their goal: inspire other Indigenous women to do the same.

“Growing up, I have fond memories of my Magoo, my grandma, working in her garden, making our traditional foods, and sharing stories of our people,” shares Sheppard, who is descended from three affiliated tribes of North Dakota: Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara. Her wife has Diné (Navajo) heritage.

“These experiences ingrained in me an appreciation for the bounty of the land, its connection to a way of life, and to our history,” Sheppard shared on their website. “In many ways, I see incorporating Indigenous ingredients and sharing our connections to them as a way of reclaiming our agricultural histories and foodways.” (608 McKnight Ave NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102; bowandarrowbrewing.com @bowandarrowbrewing)

CraftRoots Brewing, Massachusetts

Milford is on the map with CraftRoots Brewing, a seven-barrel brewery and taproom where kids and dogs are welcome before 6pm and where locals bring in their 64-ounce growlers for refills. In 2014, CraftRoots became the state’s first brick and mortar brewery completely owned by women, after wives Maureen and Robin Fabry opened it. By 2017, the National Brewers Association had named CraftRoots the fastest-growing brewery in the U.S. Ecological sustainability is core to the Fabrys’ mission to ground the brewery in a uniquely grassroots idea: connect the farmers, maltsters, brewers, and beer lovers together.

To that end, CraftRoots sources all their malt from craft maltsters in New England between Massachusetts and Vermont, where small farmers grow along with CraftRoots. It’s a winwin for growers and artisans alike. (4 Industrial Road, Milford, MA 01757; craftrootsbrewing.com @craftroots_brewing)

Goldspot Brewing Company, Colorado

Colorado might be known for its bigger brands but in a state that has had craft brewers since the 1800s (129 breweries—most of them short lived—opened in Colorado in the late 19th century and early 20th century), Goldspot Brewing is one of a kind. It has been 100% queer- and femaleowned since its inception in 2015.

Goldspot’s mission is to provide a place where everyone, especially the LGBTQ+ community, feels welcome while making a difference with lovingly crafted beer. Owner and head brewer Kelissa Hieber (who took over in 2021) has helped raise money for over 50 non-profit organizations by running six charity taps at all times and throwing the Big Queer Beerfest alongside Lady Justice Brewing (see below).

Goldspot also hosts community events like weekly trivia, a monthly drag brunch (yes, with bingo), live comedy, and open mic nights.

“People ask me all the time, ‘Would you consider this a gay bar?’ Absolutely not,” Hieber told Denver’s Westword. “I don’t want to put anything in those boxes. We’re a place for everyone, as long as you’re not a piece of shit.” (4970 Lowell Blvd, Denver, CO 80221; goldspotbrewing.com @goldspotbrewing)

Lady Justice Brewing Co., Colorado

Queer and Latina-founded Lady Justice Brewing Co. opened its doors in 2014 as a byproduct of an AmeriCorps mission. Daydreamers Betsy Lay, Kate Power, and Jen Cuesta initially operated their production on a custom-built homebrew system. Fast-forward nine years and the tiny storage space is now a large taproom where giving back is the main attraction. This communityfocused brewery regularly dedicates time, space, and money to nonprofits and community partners that support and empower women, girls, and nonbinary people in the state. Now owned by one of those dreamers, Lay, and her wife Alison Wisneski, Lady Justice programs their taproom on a weekly basis. There are nights dedicated to trivia or board games and a do-it-yourselfers Ferment and Vent. They also share other eat and drink innovations (like house-made hard cider, food trucks, and products from other craft alcohol makers) offering a way to give back while imbibing. (9735 E. Colfax Avenue, Aurora, CO 80010 ladyjusticebrewing.com @Lady JusticeBrewing)

Knock One Back

If you can’t get to a taproom, there’s always Dyke Beer. When New Yorkers Loretta Andro Chung and Sarah Hallonquist could no longer host their weekly dyke bar takeover events because of the pandemic, they shifted their thinking and came up with a craft beer we love. The duo (New York City event producers known for self-defense classes, dyke cookouts, and queeraoke) pay homage to the lesbian bar history with Dyke Beer. Find it everywhere in NYC, from Henrietta Hudson’s in the Village to Dumbo Market in Brooklyn. (Even the Museum of Sex carries it, so you can cross two things off your to-do list.) –Editors

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