More importantly than ever, where we choose to give our business is a direct way of supporting people, causes, and initiatives we want to see thrive. Craft beer drinkers are uniquely positioned to empower those who deserve it most. With October being National Women’s Small Business Month and with our readers being so dedicated to supporting women-owned breweries – we couldn’t think of a better time to release a list of nine women-owned breweries.
Before we get right into our list, here are some interesting (and startling) statistics surrounding women-owned businesses from the U.S. Census.
Let’s start these statistics with some good news: According to the Census Bureau’s Annual Business Survey (ABS), the number of women-owned businesses is increasing. The Census indicates that about 20.9% (1.2 million) of all companies are owned by women, up from 19.9% in 2018. Furthermore, “Women-owned employer firms employed over 10.1 million workers in 2018, with an annual payroll of $388.1 billion and nearly $1.8 trillion in sales and revenue”. Interestingly, the percentage of women-owned businesses in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector rose the most, with real estate and construction coming in second and third.
However, the largest industry, with nearly 20% of women-owned firms employees, works in the Health Care and Social Assistance Sector. As we touched upon in our Nine Black Women-Owned Craft Breweries article, the overwhelming number of women-owned businesses are run by white women, at an alarming 82.8% rate.
California houses the most women-owned businesses of any state, with Hawai’i and Virginia holding second and third most. It should be mentioned that self-employment and non-employer statistics are not included in the Census data and that plenty of women from all professional origins do incredible things in business. We are truly proud and humbled to share this list and help celebrate and support women in craft beer for National Women’s Small Business Month.
We also invite you to check out the National Women’s Business Council website, the Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency, and the Small Business Administration, which all provide vital resources to women-owned businesses with federal, state, local, and non-profit organizations.
These amazing breweries are provided in no particular order.
Raleigh Brewing – Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh Brewing might get its name from the great City of Oaks, but the brewery got to where it is today by owner Kristie Nystedt – the first woman to own a brewery in the state of North Carolina. Since 2013, Kristie and Raleigh Brewing have become Wake County’s third-largest beer production, averaging 8,000 bbl of beer annually. If that wasn’t impressive enough, Kristie and Raleigh Brewing have become the East Coast’s largest brick-and-mortar homebrew supply shop. That’s right. In addition to Raleigh Brewing, Kristie has been supplying commercial tanks for homebrewers to create efficient and delicious beer. Her commercial tanks have expanded into 34 states and four countries. Kristie invites everyone into their taproom with 32 taps pouring seven days a week. They connect with local non-profits and community organizations to support the great city of Raleigh.
Equity Brewing Co. – Norman, Oklahoma
Equity Brewing Co. has a name that speaks for itself, but we can’t say enough about the great work the women-led brewing company is accomplishing. Owned by a dynamic mother-and-daughter duo, Suzette and Hannah Grillot combined their passion for great beer and positive social change and have since created Oklahoma’s first all-women-owned craft brewery. Equity Brewing writes on its website, “We believe in building a more diverse and inclusive community, one beer at a time.” We’re totally on board with Suzette and Hannah Grillot and everything Equity Brewing stands for. They remind us of the power breweries have to connect and inform our communities and help make this world better. Cheers to you both!
Backward Flag Brewing Co. – Forked River, New Jersey
Remember our article on Beer’s Role in Times of War? We’re proud to share Backward Flag Brewing Co. – a woman-owned, veteran-brewed brewery in Forked River, New Jersey. While this brewery helps celebrate service members, owner and founder Torie Fisher explains the brewery’s ethos on their website: “We come together regardless of race, gender, sexual preference, or political beliefs. Why do you ask? Because when you walk through our doors, you’re home.”
After 13 years in the Army, Torie Fisher opened the doors to Backward Flag Brewing Co in September 2015. The local hub for service members and their loved ones has only grown and expanded, serving local beer to the New Jersey area. Bravo, Torie. We salute you and thank you for our service to the USA and the craft beer industry.
Second Chance Beer Co. – San Diego, CA
Animals are people too. Okay, not really, but seeing a brewery like Second Chance Beer Co. endure a mission for animal welfare is fantastic. With their #PINTSFORPUPS – 1% of all sales from their beers New Day and Buddy goes towards their dog rescue partners in San Diego and Arizona. In partnership with Second Chance Beer Co, the Animal Pad and Second Chance Dog Rescue have raised more than $22,000 since 2015. In addition to all their efforts toward helping rescue dogs, Second Chance Beer Co. was rated the number one dog-friendly in San Diego. Co-founded by Virginia Morrison, this socially-conscious, philanthropic brewery is worth all the chances!
Novel Strand Brewing Company – Denver, Colorado
In July 2016, Ayana Coker and Chantel Columna created Novel Strand Brewing Company in Denver, Colorado, with a simple yet powerful creed: “Brew the best beer we can, no gimmicks, no trends, no tricks, no shortcuts. Just beer.” With their intention spread from the Mile High city, the two founders, black women, have another maxim written on their website: “Changes in DNA are not inherently good or bad… just different. That is who we are at Novel Strand Brewing Company. Something different.”
If two black women spearheading a successful brew house in Denver is what different* is, then we certainly need more different* in the craft beer industry. Keep it up, ladies! We love what Novel Strand Brewing Company is all about.
Attic Brewing Company – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
At BIFE, we understand how women are natural trailblazers. They’ve had to be every step of the way. To that point, Attic Brewing Company is the first craft brewery in Germantown, a historic neighborhood in Northwest Philadelphia, in over 100 years. Owned by a woman who’s achieved one-name status, “Laura” opened the Attic Brewing Company doors in just 2020. However, the Philly brewery has already gone on to earn two Great American Beer Festival medals and joined breweries across the world to release Brave Noise Hazy Pale Ale to honor those who’ve spoken out against gender discrimination, racism, sexual assault, and harassment; and to address the issues that women, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA+ individuals face in the craft beer industry. Congratulations, Laura and Attic Brewing. We, too, believe craft beer is a space that welcomes EVERYONE to craft beer.
Little Dog Brewing Co. – Neptune, New Jersey
It’s always rad to see women running a brewhouse, and brewmaster Gretchen Schmidhausher of Little Dog Brewing Co. has a name born for crafting beer. But in all seriousness, there is a craft beer renaissance on the Jersey Shore born from a genuine desire from the locals for a craft beer community. As a testament to that, Little Dog’s Brewing Co. tap room was appointed with $11,000 raised through an online Kickstarter campaign and now serves tons of locals who are craving delicious and locally crafted beer. Schmidhausler named her brewery after her faithful small dog, Quincy, a basenji, who she describes as intelligent, funny, tenacious, and determined. Sounds like a craft beer dog to us.
Lost Coast Brewery – Eureka, California
Every once in a while, we stumble upon a spectacular brewery owner. Barbara Groom is precisely that person, unconventional, passionate, and talented. Barbara grew up wanting to be a skier. However, she lived in Stockton, California. She sold Avon makeup even though she had never worn the stuff herself and became a pharmacist for twenty years, trailblazing for women in a male-dominated pharmaceutical industry. It might have taken six years of diligent, determined work, but Barbara is finally fighting back against the excruciatingly dull and stiflingly uncreative work as a pharmacist. Lost Coast Brewery was born out of Eureka, California.
Rhythm Brewing – New Haven, Connecticut
You might recognize Alisa Bowens-Mercado’s Rhythm Brewing from our Nine Black-Owned and Black Women-led Breweries article. Still, we wanted to include her story to celebrate Black women-led breweries everywhere. Alisa Bowens-Mercado founded Rhythm Brewing in New Haven, Connecticut, after realizing the lack of Black-owned craft lagers on the market. What did she do about it? She created her own. With music, dance, and beer playing a significant role in her life, Rhythm Brewing hosts all types of events – including Rhythm and BBQ and dance events – inviting people to “Find your Rhythm in Life.”