Inclusion, equality, and justice.
These three words have become a cornerstone for Hop Culture Magazine.
Last year, movements around the country spotlighted racial injustice and police prejudice, with the craft beer industry simultaneously called to action. Our community realized that beer has the power to create change. An industry that has traditionally been predominantly male and white saw people speaking out about being more inclusive, crafting events that supported equality, and showcasing the stories of underrepresented communities, bringing justice and voices to those who may not have previously been heard.
For our part, in October 2020, Hop Culture hosted its third annual Beers With(out) Beards, the largest festival of its kind supporting the achievements of women in the industry. And most recently, we announced our first-ever Hop Culture x Samuel Adams Present Queer Beer Fest, aimed at capturing the unique, diverse, vibrant, and colorful voices of the queer community in craft beer.
All together we’ve seen a surge of Black, Brown, female, Queer, and Indigenous voices urging change, bringing new perspectives to the table, and highlighting BIPOC businesses that deserve recognition.
One of those breweries is also one of craft beer’s most prestigious pioneers.
Samuel Adams is not only one of the world’s leading independent craft breweries, but also a longtime and passionate supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. Because of this, they made the perfect partner for our new event. Likewise, an inclusive network of Samuel Adams and Boston Beer Company coworkers, aptly named Labels Out, recognized the importance of the festival as part of their ongoing mission to support and encourage their peers as members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community.
In 2020, Samuel Adams announced its partnership with GLAAD, including a $100,000 donation to the organization committed to rewriting the script for LGBTQ+ acceptance in addition to a commitment to education and training for coworkers. The brewery launched Love Conquers All, a Pride platform created in partnership with GLAAD, inspired by Love Conquers Ale, a Blackberry Basil Lime Gose limited release brewed by and for the LGBTQ+ community. To introduce Love Conquers All, Samuel Adams created a powerful video series called Poetry of Pride, to illustrate the power of poetry as a medium and expression designed to unite communities and amplify voices. Filmed inside the historic Stonewall inn, the series featured original poetry written by Teddy Geiger and Richard Blanco, recited by notable Broadway members of the LGBTQ+ community.
All in all Samuel Adams has made huge strides to support the queer community. And Hop Culture is honored to announce this revolutionary brewer with be our presenting partner for the inaugural Queer Beer Festival.
So, here’s the all-important question: What can you do?
How You Can Support LGBTQ+ Folks in Craft Beer
For one join us for Queer Beer, which will have you drinking beer from queer-owned and queer-supporting breweries and engaging in conversations in the community.
But, if you can’t make the actual event to help celebrate we wanted to share a shortlist of 16 queer-led and queer-supporting breweries that you can be buying beer (or merch) from and championing right now.
These are breweries that either have queer people in prominent leadership positions or are simply putting the work into the community to establish a more diverse, equitable, just, and inclusive space for the queer community. We’re talking everything from small steps such as making beers that celebrate Pride AND more importantly donate proceeds to a specific LGBTQ+ organization (no just slapping rainbows on cans here and calling yourself an ally) all the way to breweries such as Samuel Adams, whose huge strides have made diversity and inclusion a pillar of their organization.
From pioneers such as New Belgium, which just earned recognition as one of the Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality by the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Corporate Equality Index, with a perfect score of 100, and Collective Arts, which replaces the art on their flagship IPA every June to spotlight queer artists. To younger breweries taking charge like queer, Indigenous-owned Bow & Arrow Brewing Co. and queer- and woman-owned and Latina-founded Lady Justice Brewing Co. that donates the proceeds from all of their beers to organizations across the country.
Below we’ve rounded up some fantastic queer-led breweries to check out.
16 Queer-Led and Queer-Supporting Breweries
While this list is a great start we know that there are many more breweries out there, so if we missed your favorite feel free to reach out and leave your suggestions. And then, come celebrate the vibrant voices of the queer community with us at Queer Beer on Sat. Jun. 5th, 2021 or safely get out there and champion the rad queer community in craft beer.
Breweries are presented in alphabetical order.
This is one of the few cidery’s we know of that has been an active participant in the queer community. Last June to celebrate Pride month the D.C.-based cidery partnered with nonprofit Casa Ruby, an organization run by transgender women of color with the vision to “create a world where transgender, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming people can pursue their dreams.” ANXO transformed its flagship Cidre Blanc into special-edition Pride cans, donating $1 from the sale of each 4-pack along with a standalone $800 donation that came directly from the cidery. Sporting an ombre rainbow hue, the limited-edition can celebrates queer culture, but most importantly puts money back into the community to create a better world for all.
Almanac Beer Co.
Last year Almanac Beer Co in Alameda, CA showed up in a big way. During a year that saw the entire world shift due to a global pandemic and the United States unite in one of its largest social movements, Almanac brewed three very important beers. With the direct goal to use the sales from each beer to support organizations, “working to create a safe, stronger, more equitable, and just future for our community,” Almanac set a high standard. The first beer Future Is Fluid supported the Pink Boots Society, a nonprofit dedicated to providing educational opportunities for women in craft beer. The second was Almanac’s own interpretation of Black Is Beautiful, a worldwide initiative started by Marcus Baskerville, the BIPOC founder of Weathered Souls Brewing Co.
Last but certainly not least came Love Hazy IPA: Pride Edition, Almanac’s most popular hazy IPA which they brewery transformed during Pride month to support the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, a nonprofit dedicated to enhancing and sustaining the well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people through educational, social, health, and wellness-related activities, programs, and services.
Bow & Arrow Brewing Co.
Partners in business and life Shyla Sheppard and her wife, Missy Begay, opened their Native, women, and queer-owned brewery in New Mexico to incorporate ingredients and culture from their Native American heritage. Born and raised on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota, Sheppard is a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes while Begay is the granddaughter of Navajo silversmiths and weavers. Together this dynamic duo weaves delicate threads of Native American customs and legacy combined with a vision for the future across their entire brewery.
The beauty of this synergy explodes in the can with beers like Denim Tux American Pilsner inspired by the classic symbol of the American West and made with premium New Mexican blue corn or Sunbloom described as an East x Southwest variation on an American Saison featuring Thai basil, lemongrass, ginger, tamarind, lime, and Sonoran White Wheat, a heritage grain found in the Southwest.
Brooklyn, New York
A revered gay bar in Greenwich Village in New York City, The Stonewall Inn is the site of the historic Stonewall Inn Riots, six days of protests and riots in response to New York City police raiding the bar. Often recognized as igniting the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world, the Stonewall Uprising and The Stonewall Inn have become an integral part of queer history and the queer community. In 2016 The Stonewall Inn reached out to Brooklyn Brewery to see if they’d be interested in collaborating on a beer for the announcement and launch of The Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative (SIGBI) whose mission is to bring critical needed education and financial assistance to grassroots organizations providing advocacy, guidance, and shelter to LGBTQ+ youth in mostly rural and underserved communities throughout the United States and abroad. Brooklyn Brewery immediately said yes. The Stonewall Inn IPA was first released on draft during Pride Month in June 2017.
Brooklyn Brewery describes The Stonewall Inn IPA on its website as, “a fearless IPA for all. With unabashed notes of citrus peel and grapefruit, the unapologetic and refreshing IPA reminds us of where we’ve been and celebrates where we’re going. This is a beer for everyone, no exceptions.” Each year Brooklyn Brewery brews The Stonewall Inn IPA to support SIGBI and the LGBTQ+ community. And, aside from their annual donation and direct support for SIGBI through their Stonewall Inn IPA, Brooklyn Brewery is implementing fundraising efforts, directing more donations to LGBTQ+ causes, and working to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ people in the craft beer industry – 4.0% ABV.
Collective Arts Brewing
Well-known for bringing together art and beer, Collective Arts made it a priority last June to celebrate queer artists by releasing a series of special edition cans of their flagship Life in the Clouds IPA. Collective Arts showcased four different queer artists from across the globe including Wednesday Holmes (London, UK), Lisa Rose (Bristol, UK), Patricia Shim (Lisbon, Portugal), and Tim Singleton (Toronto, CA). Proceeds from the can sales were donated to Rainbow Railroad, an organization helping LGBTQ+ individuals around the world escape from persecution by relocating to safer environments.
This year the Hamilton, Ontario-based brewery will continue the tradition. They plan to launch a similar limited series featuring artwork from Ethan Barry (Vancouver, CA), Matthew Willie Garcia (St. Joseph, MO), Gabriella Grimes (Philadelphia, PA), and Henri Campeã (São Paulo, Brazil).
We’ll be featuring the work from each of these artists in a panel featured during our Queer Beer festival. Additionally, a specific design from Henri Campeã will be showcased on a limited edition tumbler that will be for sale prior to the fest. We’ve only ordered 480 of these, so once they’re gone they’re gone! All of the net proceeds from the sales of this exclusive glass will be donated to Queer | Art, an organization launched in 2009 to support a generation of LGBTQ+ artists that lost mentors to the AIDS Crisis of the 1980s. They offer mentorship, exhibition opportunities, funding, and other supports to LGBTQ+ artists. Stay tuned for more information from us when these limited-edition tumblers go on sale in May.
The country’s capital has become a powerhouse for queer-owned and queer-allied breweries. Every June the DC-based brewery rebrands its flagship Brau Pils to Pride Pils, collaborating with the Washington Blade, America’s oldest LGBTQ newspaper that originated just a few months after the infamous Stonewall riots in 1969. All proceeds from the sale of the limited-edition beer benefit SMYAL, the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League and The Blade Foundation that funds enterprise journalism projects focused on LGBTQ+ and other underrepresented communities. Over the last two years through the Pride Pils project, DC Brau has raised over $40,000 for these organizations.
Denizens Brewing Co.
Silver Spring, MD
Since 2014, after co-founding Denizens in Silver Spring, MD, wife-and-wife team Julie Veratti and Emily Bruno have been consistent advocates and voices for the queer community in the craft beer industry. As one of the only women and minority-owned-and-operated breweries in Maryland, Denizens focuses as much on community organizing as on their crisp lagers, hoppy IPAs, and barrel-aged stouts. The idea behind the brewery is to be a gathering place for all, often hosting (pre-pandemic) craft fairs, trivia, live music, a running club, and drag shows.
And, the brewery has often given back to specific LGBTQ+ organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign, the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYLA), and the MoCo Pride Center. Outside of the brewery, Veratti served as chair of the Brewers Association’s Diversity Committee and most recently actually left her full-time role with the brewery to accept a presidential appointment with the U.S. Small Business Administration. As the Associate Administrator for Field Operations, Veratti will be in charge of 68 field offices and 10 regional offices across the country. Last October, Veratti joined us during our Women in Beer Leadership Roundtable during Hop Culture’s virtual women in craft beer festival, Beers With(out) Beards.
Lady Justice Brewing Co.
Queer- and woman-owned and Latina-founded Lady Justice Brewing Co. in Aurora, CO set out with the goal to make beer for a better world across all genders, nationalities, races, and sexualities. Founded in 2010 by Betsy Lay, Kate Power, and Jen Cuesta, Lady Justice holds the distinction as the world’s first fully female-owned and philanthropic brewery at the time it opened. The brewery focuses heavily on giving back, raising over $32,000 to date for over 30 organizations across the country such as Women’s Wilderness whose mission is to cultivate courage, confidence, connection, and environmental stewardship among girls, women, and the LGBTQ2+ community through year-round outdoor immersions and The Gathering Place, the only daytime drop-in center in Denver serving transgender individuals experience poverty.
In addition to donations, Lady Justice employs a queer staff, creates a safe space for Colorado’s LGBTQ population, and brews a Pride beer with rainbow glitter that has benefited the Transformative Freedom Fund.
Marz Community Brewing
Marz Community Brewing isn’t pulling any punches here. The Chicago-based brewery’s Gay IPA represents exactly what the name says – being Gay. And, being proud to be gay. The colorful phalluses on the can were originally designed by Zipeng Zhu, a queer, Chinese-born designer, art director, illustrator, and animator whose work aims to razzle-dazzle. His label certainly did just that.
Beyond turning heads, Marz’s Gay IPA also supports the local LGBTQ+ community with a portion of the proceeds from sales donated to organizations such as Affinity Community Services, Brave Space Alliance, Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus, Youth Empowerment Performance Project (YEPP), The Legacy Project, Equality Illinois, and ALMA Chicago. What we love so much about this double dry-hopped hazy IPA is that Marz has been unapologetically unafraid to embrace queer culture and proudly and loudly represents what makes the queer community so colorful and spirited.
New Belgium Brewing
Fort Collins, CO + Asheville, NC
A stalwart in the craft beer industry, New Belgium was founded by Kim Jordan in 1991 during a time when very few women held positions in the industry. Jordan and the brewery have pioneered over the last 30 years, recently hiring Patrice Palmer, a black, queer, trans intersection leadership educator as the brewery’s Diversity and Inclusion specialist. We’ve been so impressed with Palmer’s work to create and manage programs, projects, and lead initiatives on diversity and inclusion within the brewery that we actually named Palmer one of the most important voices in craft beer in 2020.
In addition to Palmer’s revolutionary programs, New Belgium recently received recognition as one of the Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality from the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Equality Index, with a perfect score of 100. They’re the only brewery to be awarded this distinction in the industry. Last but not least, New Belgium released Biere De Queer last year to celebrate National Coming Out Day, an annual LGTBQ+ awareness day observed annually on October 11th. The purple Belgian-style ale with honey, cinnamon, apricot and sweet potato raised money for the Blue Ridge Pride in Asheville, NC and the Pride Resource Center at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO.
Make sure to tune in during Queer Beer in June when Palmer hosts a conversation around how authenticity shows up in different queer spaces. How can you be authentic as a business? As an individual? And, as an ally?
Queer Brewing Project
The Queer Brewing Project founded by Lily Waite, a queer, trans woman, builds community and fosters advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights by brewing beer. How? Waite, who has worked in the industry at places such as Good Beer Hunting, We Are Beer, and Wild Beer Co. traveled around the world brewing specific queer-focused collaboration beers with well-known breweries. Beginning with Marble Brewery’s Dinosaurs Will Die, a beer brewed as part of an art exhibition during Manchester Beer Week in 2018, Waite would go on to craft over 30 collaborative beers in 5 different countries. Each time Waite set out with the goal to unveil the intersectionality of the queer and trans communities in craft.
Most recently, Waite served as the first participant in Cloudwater Brew Co.’s Wayfinder program. Wayfinder serves as an incubator for those looking to create a positive change in the beer industry. Waite was able to gain more experience through working with the Cloudwater team and ultimately craft some exciting releases — including Statement of Intent, pictured above and as the featured image in this article!
Popular breweries she’s collabed with include Fifth Hammer Brewing Co, New Belgium, and 7venth Sun Brewery (and that’s just here in the U.S.). Together these beers have raised thousands of dollars for LGBTQ+ charities.
Red Bear Brewing Co.
Call Red Bear Brewing Co. a Safe Space. Call it Washington D.C.’s only 100 percent gay-owned brewery. Or call it just call it an amazing taproom and community hangout. But, don’t just call it a “gay bar.” This is a proud place striving for equality and inclusivity in a safe and positive environment.
Started by Bryan Van Den Oever, Simon Beer, and Cameron Raspet – all who identify as queer – Red Bear aspires to be a place of community for its diverse team members and neighbors. “We have a slogan: Just like craft beer, diversity is delicious,” said Van Den Oever in an article for CraftBeer.com. Peruse the brewery’s core values and you’ll find diversity listed as one of its top core values along with adventurous, quality, conscientiousness, community, you aka embracing the spirit of the unicorn.
Samuel Adams has not only been a pioneer of the entire craft beer movement, but also of supporting the LGBTQ+ community. The brewery’s work includes a $100,000 donation in 2020 to GLAAD, the creation of Love Conquers All, brewing Love Conquers Ale, showcasing a powerful video series called Poetry of Pride, and forming its own internal diversity and inclusion group called Labels Out. From top to bottom, inside and out, Samuel Adams has made huge strides to support the queer community and Hop Culture is honored to partner with this revolutionary brewery as a presenting sponsor for its Queer Beer Festival.
You can hear more about all of Samuel Adams work during our keynote and LGBTQ+ BIPOC panel during our Queer Beer festival on June 5th, 2021. Additionally, we’ve created a limited-edition run of 100 posters and 300 YETI Colsters (generously donated by YETI) that will feature designs from queer artists. The sales from each of these items will go directly to GLAAD. Stay tuned for more information from us when these go on sale in May.
Live in Oakland, CA for any amount of time and you’ll quickly learn about Temescal Brewing’s Queer First Fridays. In fact, our Content Marketing Manager, Grace Weitz, visited Queer First Fridays with her wife the weekend after she first moved from NYC to CA in March of 2020. Actually, it was the last public gathering she went to before the COVID-19 pandemic forced breweries and taprooms to shutdown.
The event held monthly on the first Friday of each month (prior to COVID) brings together queer musicians and drinkers to celebrate in a night uniquely queer. The event gained popularity in the area for crafting a safe space for queer folks to hang out with friends and listen to great music while also enjoying incredible beer. These vibrant often wild nights were the brainchild of then-bar manager Theresa Bale who planned the inaugural Queer First Fridays as her birthday party. Without a place specifically for the queer community to congregate outside of late-night clubs none too concerned with craft beer, Bale created her dream queer party that married the two. And, the queer community took notice with over 500 people showing up to dance and drink at the first Queer First Fridays. Although, Bale has since left Temescal her legacy lives on – the first post-pandemic Queer First Fridays returned on April 2nd, 2021.
Threes brewed a Pride beer before Pride beers were a buzzword. Back in 2017 after then-American President Donald Trump had been elected to the White House, the Threes team tried to think of ways they could do something to respond. The brewery wanted to find a cause they believed in and support it to the hilt — Gender Neutral was born. Made to represent the full, colorful spectrum of gender identities, Gender Neutral has been canned and released in June each year since to, “make a broader commentary on human nature and society at large.” With 10 percent of all sales of Gender Neutral donated to various LGBTQ+ organizations over the years such as the Human Rights Campaign or Anti-Violence Project, an NYC-based organization that works with LGBTQ+ and HIV-affected communities, Threes dedication to the LGBTQ+ community has been unparalleled.
Urban Growler Brewing Co.
St. Paul, MN
The first women-owned craft brewery in Minnesota also happens to be queer-owned. Helmed by partners Jill Pavlak and Deb Loch, Urban Growler Brewing Co. is the perfect example of how to break through barriers in this industry. Pavlak and Loch had a dream: To open a brewery. But, banks wouldn’t take them seriously. “We heard ridiculous things like, ‘How will you girls carry those big heavy bags of grain? How will women your age keep those late-night hours? What if you get divorced?… Would you ask that of a heterosexual couple?,” said Pavlak in an article for October magazine. But, the couple never quit.
They brewed beer, printed t-shirts, sold shares in their future brewery, and raised over $500,000. Still, the banks turned them down. Finally, at the suggestion of a friend, the ladies visited Pioneer Bank in Mankato, MN and secured their loan. Seven years later Urban Growler has become a beacon in the industry. Their annual Pride beer Let’s Dance, a lavender lemon summer ale, celebrates the queer community. But, it’s really the story here of perseverance and tenacity that makes Urban Growler such a special place.
Be sure to subscribe to Hop Culture’s YouTube channel so you don’t miss the livestream of Queer Beer on June 5th, 2021
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