It is no exaggeration to say that without women, we would not have beer.
From ancient times until the 1500s, brewing was considered a domestic task. Female “brewsters” dominated the beer game, many making brews in their homes or in their taverns.
According to Laken Brooks of Smithsonian Magazine, an English Market in the Middle Ages would have been stocked with brewsters donning tall, pointy hats (so customers could locate them in the crowded room) and carrying large cauldrons (to transport their brews).
The picture sounds oddly familiar, right?
Laken continues, “just as women were establishing their foothold in the beer markets of England, Ireland and the rest of Europe, the Reformation began. The fundamentalist religious movement, which… preached stricter gender norms and condemned witchcraft.” As this new wave of patriarchal ideas took hold, men saw an opportunity to stake their claim on beer. They accused female brewers of being witches, and successfully changed the course of history: brewing became a man’s game, and has remained so for hundreds of years.
According to a 2018 survey by the Brewer’s Association, only 22.6% of breweries are owned by women, and women only make up 7.5% of brewers. While these numbers are small and discouraging, they are evidence that, slowly but surely, women are breaking back into brewing.
To show for it, we compiled a list of women-owned breweries that you should know about.
Bald Birds Brewing Company
Founder: Abby Feerrar
Based in Audubon, PA
Fast Fact: You can take a virtual tour of the Bald Birds Brewery and learn about how they craft their beers by tuning into this GNL program!
Stoudts Brewing Company
Founder: Carol Stoudt
Based in Adamstown, PA
Fast fact: Carol Stoudt is commonly known as one of the first female brewsters in the United States since the Prohibition, opening Stoudts Brewing Company in 1987.
Dock Street Brewery
Founder: Rosemarie Certo
Based in Philadelphia, PA
Fast Fact: Dock Street Brewery was founded in 1985, making Rosemarie Certo another pioneer in the world of craft beer.
Backward Flag Brewing Company
Founder: Torie Fisher
Based in Forked River, NJ
Fast Fact: Backward Flag Brewing is not only woman-owned, but also veteran owned and brewed!
Harlem Brewing Company
Founder: Celeste Beatty
Based in Harlem, NYC
Fast Fact: Celeste Beatty is yet another pioneer in the world of craft beer. She founded Harlem Brewing Company in 2000, and has since expanded to a location in Rocky Mount, NC.
Rhythm Brewing Co.
Founder: Alisa Bowens-Mercado
Based in New Haven, CT
Fast Fact: Rhythm Brewing is the first African American-owned and African American woman-owned brewery in Connecticut.
New Belgium Brewing
Founder: Kim Jordan
Based in Denver, CO
Fast Fact: In 2020, New Belgium’s flagship beer was named the first carbon neutral beer in the U.S.
Holidaily Brewing Company
Founder: Karen Hertz
Based in Golden, CO
Fast Fact: After battling cancer, Karen Hertz had to follow a gluten-free diet. So, she opened a company dedicated to crafting quality gluten-free beer. Read more about her story here!
Founder: Brey Sloan
Based in Augusta, GA
Fast Fact: A retired Army colonel, Brey Sloan runs Riverwatch alongside her daughter, Anne.
Founder: Jessica Martínez
Based in Mexico City
Fast Fact: Jessica Martínez opened the microbrewery after winning “an amateur brewers competition on her first shot”.