If you’ve been a TapRm fan for a bit now, you know that we believe in pushing for inclusion, visibility, and representation 365 days a year while also taking the opportunity of heritage months to spotlight different brands and businesses that are integral facets of a better, more diverse drinks industry. These are the brands owned and/or operated by members of communities that have been underrepresented in craft beer and beverage alcohol, and supporting them drives toward changing the industry’s narrative for the better. Besides, doing that--supporting them--is a no-brainer since it means you’re going to upgrade your drinks repertoire with creative, high-quality gems.
March is Women’s History Month, and today in particular--March 8--is International Women’s Day. Striving for equity and visibility for women in craft beer is vital and necessary, and also opens important doors to that kind of equity and visibility for other groups that have been underrepresented in the industry for too long. The goal is an industry free of gender disparity, but also one where the groundwork is laid to bring all marginalized communities to the table with equity, opportunity, a voice, safety, and support.
Organizations like the Pink Boots Society, formed in 2007, have helped knock down barriers of entry for women with scholarships and education programming along with networking and career assistance. Men currently still make up 76% of brewery owners in the United States, reports Forbes on findings from the Brewers Association. And as anyone who’s been paying attention to craft beer for the last year or so knows, women--as well as anyone from any underrepresented group--are still far from guaranteed equality, safety, and opportunity. Many dedicated people are hard at work to change that. Take, for example, the Brave Noise beer collaboration. This project is the work of brewer Brienne Allan, who shared the flood of stories of discrimination, abuse, and toxic workplaces in beer last year, and Ash Eliot, who founded Women of the Bevolution, a platform providing a safe space, resources, job links, and more to women, femmes, and nonbinary individials in the alcohol industry. To brew Brave Noise, breweries must create or update their code of conduct and share publicly. The results of the collab are more than a great pale ale; they’re accountability and commitment to a safer, more equitable industry.
For the final week of March, TapRm will be donating 2% of all sales to these two incredibly valuable causes: Pink Boots Society and Brave Noise. Stay tuned to TapRm on Instagram and Twitter for updates and info, and if you’re not already subscribed to TapRm’s emails, make sure to get on the list now.
Indeed, there’s lots even a casual craft beer or beverage fan can do, from donating to causes like Brave Noise (check out the Brave Voices fund here) to staying informed on how the industry is doing in this regard (Good Beer Hunting and VinePair are great sources) to, quite simply, supporting brands owned and/or operated by women. And when those brands are creating such game-changing, delicious drinks, this is arguably the easiest, best “task” in the world. To start, get to know some of the women-owned beverage brands on TapRm.
Jennie Ripps and Maria Littlefield turned a wealth of skills and passions, from marketing genius to encyclopedic tea knowledge, into an entirely new beverage that has had imbibers clamoring ever since. After exploring tea together as a hobby; after turning that into experimenting with cocktails; after that led to so much buzz among friends and then basically all of New York that Jennie and Maria were pouring their “tea-tails” at the trendiest settings and events; the duo launched Owl’s Brew in 2013. Jennie and Maria understood what would set a drink apart and not only intrigue consumers but keep them coming back: the enchanting and delicious flavors and aromas of tea. Thanks to tea, they could make inspired beverages that were actually natural, not just boasting “natural ingredients” on the can. As it turns out, with tea bringing everything from floral notes to fruity notes to spicy notes to herbal notes, you don’t need or want anything else.
These natural, vegan, 4.8% bubbly hard teas come in dreamy iterations like Spiced Chai Cranberry, Matcha, Darjeeling Tea with Hibiscus and Strawberry, and White Tea with Raspberry and Watermelon. (It’s no surprise we’re partial to the variety packs, so you can experience all these beautifully balanced flavors.)
Jennie and Maria aren’t content to just change the game when it comes to the beverages, themselves, however. Supporting and lifting up other women in business and helping to create more of those seats at the table is a constant and integral facet of Owl’s Brew. They developed an organization called the Wise Women’s Collective. This is a platform where women can connect, and through which Jennie and Maria support career enrichment and education programs as well as initiatives and charities. The WWC also hosts its own programming and events, from the Boozy Book Club--focusing on women authors--to a series of discussions with other inspiring women for Women’s History Month. With so much going on, from powerful work opening up the industry to incredible beverages, we just had to ask Jennie and Maria a few questions.
In honor of the Boozy Book Club, what are you reading right now?
We’re both reading the Boozy Book Club book of the month! Black Cake is our featured book. It’s a novel by Charmaine Wilkerson, and it’s a treat, if you will ;). It’s full of juicy secrets, and we highly recommend!
Can you tell us a little about your amazing Wise Women Happy Hour Series?
Absolutely! In this industry, only about 4% of the workforce is female. A pretty shocking statistic, especially when consumption is almost even between male/females.
We launched our platform, Wise Women Collective, about a year ago with the goal of promoting community and celebrating women in this industry and across industries.
Our Happy Hour series this month is focused on shining a light on women in our industry, hearing their stories and celebrating each other and what we’re all doing to change the statistic.
We know it's probably almost impossible to pick, but do you have a favorite Owl's Brew style that you're especially reaching for in March with all of its almost-spring vibes?
Maria’s ready for spring…she’s been grabbing the Jasmine & Blueberry recently (it's crushable and delicious!), and Jennie is not quite finished with our yummy winter seasonal, Spiced Chai Cranberry--during these last days of winter, it's still perfect for the fireside with a book.
TALEA Beer Co.
TALEA is the creation of LeAnn Darland and Tara Hankinson, who each bring a dynamic array of skills, talents, and experiences to the craft beer space. With MBAs, both are experienced in areas like finance, marketing, operations, and more--LeAnn served in the U.S. Navy and Tara consulted for one of the country’s most prestigious wine-makers, just to name two fascinating pursuits. After meeting at a start-up in the beer world and becoming fast friends, the two avid homebrewers decided to put all their brilliance and passion to work in the form of their own brewery. Today, that has evolved into a lineup of beers that appeal equally to jaded beer geeks and those who previously only preferred, say, wine or cocktails. Crisp pilsners, hazy IPAs, bright sours, lush stouts--every TALEA beer is a thoughtful flavor journey. Plus, TALEA’s space in Brooklyn challenges any limits on what a brewery taproom can be with modern-chic and inviting decor; cafe-like perks such as being open early and serving coffee in addition to welcoming remote workers, families, and friend groups; and events like yoga classes and manicures.
Is there anything more inspiring when entering the beverage space than to do so forging a whole new path for a whole new category? We can’t think of anything.
Makkgeolli is, in fact, the opposite of a new category in general. It’s Korea’s oldest alcoholic beverage. But until recently, the story of this important drink hadn’t been widely told in the American craft beverage space, and the average American consumer didn’t know there was this slightly milky, slightly sweet, slightly tart and funky, effervescent rice beer to enjoy. Carol Pak is helping to change that with Makku, connecting those of Korean heritage to this time-honored drink and introducing new consumers who become instant fans. Read more here, and try makgeolli in its original flavor plus Blueberry, Mango, or Passion Fruit here.
Dyke Beer is a love letter to the precious LGBTQIA+ spaces that are unfortunately disappearing in the U.S. This beer brand exists to celebrate these spaces, support them, raise awareness for why they need to be protected, and create new ones that are safe, welcoming, and community-bolstering. This is the work of Loretta Andro Chung and Sarah Hallonquist, who met working with an activism group devoted to this cause, called Dyke Bar Takeover. Loretta and Sarah decided to use beer’s innate power to bring people together to tackle their mission. They collaborate with different breweries to bring their unique and delicious beer ideas to life, and the rest of the time, they’re bringing the community together with super fun events. So far, the beers have included a saison with Brooklyn’s Wild East Brewing; Tall Girl Gose featuring blackberries, lingonberries, raspberry, and Himalayan pink salt, with Greenpoint Beer & Ale Co.; Witch, Please, a sweet and spiced yet crisp and refreshing pumpkin lager; and soon, an Australian sparkling ale.
Crowns & Hops Brewing Co.
Beny Ashburn founded Crowns & Hops with Teo Hunter after a successful career in brand marketing and advertising. With her genius skills and dedication, Beny has been helping to change what craft beer looks like, smashing stereotypes and barriers of entry and building visibility, representation, and inclusion. Crowns & Hops is about so much more than beer, with regular collaborations, projects, and events that raise funds and awareness for important causes and also work to bring the community together and introduce craft beer to new fans. But it certainly doesn’t hurt that the beer itself happens to be fantastic, with hop-bomb IPAs and decadent stouts that have every beer enthusiast buzzing.
Grimm Artisanal Ales
Lauren Grimm founded Grimm Artisanal Ales with husband Joe in 2013. This was after years of homebrewing, alongside studies, work, and pursuits in the arts. Lauren and Joe met as students and artists in Providence, Rhode Island, according to Grimm’s website, and their journey took them playing music and creating art to places like Belgium--where they fell in love with Belgian ales--and Chicago--where their homebrews caught on with friends and neighbors. That passion and talent for art is easy to see in Grimm’s instantly recognizable, striking branding; thoughtfully designed Brooklyn taproom; and, most importantly, the brewery’s penchant for deftly hopping (no pun intended) from beer style to beer style with a cohesive attention to detail, focus on quality, and creativity for ingredients. Explore Lauren’s innovation from beer idea to beer-can label with IPAs, lagers, sours, and more.
Good Nature Farm Brewery
With Carrie Blackmore at the helm, Good Nature has helped pave the way for a rich and vibrant farm brewery scene in the state of New York. She founded the brewery in Hamilton, NY with co-owner Matt Whelan in 2010, before craft beer had fully exploded into the bustling, brewery-on-every-corner world it is today. The mission then is what it still is today: to make high-quality, beautifully brewed beer in a range of traditional styles, all with ingredients grown by New York State farmers. Blackmore and Whelan seek to actively contribute to their community from sustainability to creating a gathering place at their farm taproom. Brown ales, blonde ales, and IPAs all remind any drinker of the simple goodness of craft beer.
Plan Bee Farm Brewery
Plan Bee Farm Brewery is another integral, trail-blazing member of craft beer’s farm brewery segment, and along with husband Evan, Emily Watson is to thank. While homebrewing in New York City, Emily and Evan started thinking about what it would be like to brew truly American beer without imported ingredients. The conversation only got more local, more innovative, more dedicated, and more sustainable from there. By 2015, the Watsons had expanded a brewing operation they had up and running in Fishkill, NY to a 10-barrel system. Ever since, Plan Bee has been a brewery beer pros and beer fans alike all over the country look to for what it means to brew a hyper-local, home-grown beer--Plan Bee’s “barn beers” are farmhouse styles made with ingredients grown right on the brewery’s own farm; any other ingredients are sourced from farms nearby. Read more about Plan Bee’s other beers, what makes them all special, the must-visit taproom, events, and more here.
Maíra Kimura, Yumi Shimada, and Fernanda Ueno have built an inspiring, unique brewery that tells stories of heritage and culture and showcases truly special ingredients. All three are of Japanese heritage living in Brazil; the term “Japas” is what people of Japanese descent are often called in Brazil, frequently without their permission. The trio took back the term and now celebrates both Brazilian and Japanese culture with their thoughtful brews, brews that have beer drinkers as far as the United States excited. Think wheat beers with ginger, lagers with yuzu, IPAs with matcha, and much more. Read more about the fascinating Japas story here.
Jackalope Brewing Company
It would be more than enough to consistently wow beer drinkers with pitch-perfect brews, making your own taproom a destination and your own cans an instant draw on shelves. But Jackalope has always gone even beyond that admirable feat. CEO and co-founder Bailey Spaulding told us about the Nashville craft beer scene when Jackalope opened in 2011--or rather, the lack thereof. Bailey is one of the founding members of the Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild, where she helped push back on limitations and open new avenues for more breweries to open their doors in Nashville. Now, a craft beer scene worthy of Nashville’s reputation for creativity, uniqueness, and excitement has bubbled up, and Jackalope is at the center with favorite flagship beers and anticipated rotations alike. Bonus: Jackalope has a Brave Noise brew, too.
Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery
Similarly, Lickinghole Creek CEO and co-founder Lisa Pumphrey helped pave the way for a flourishing farm brewery scene in Virginia. The LCCB vision centered on but always included even more than fantastic beer. Lisa sought a way to make conserving the rich land in Virginia economically viable. She used her background in environmental studies and law to help establish a farm brewery system in the state, incentivizing the conservation and upkeep of land while also forming a vibrant craft beer destination. LCCB is very much its own destination, too--there’s 290 acres of land to hike and take in the natural beauty and wildlife. Lisa and LCCB are also heavily invested in and always hard at work on sustainable methods and not only ensuring clean water locally but bringing it to regions that need it. That’s all on top of classic beers made with creative ingredients and expert brewing.
AMASSAMASS was born out of Morgan McLachlan’s love of botany. A trail-blazing distiller, Morgan grew up in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest in Canada. Before moving into the world of spirits, she hit the ground running already breaking boundaries as the youngest member of IATSE, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, when she was 17 and working in the film industry. Morgan’s move into distilling is our gain--she applies a deep understanding and devoted love of plants to crafting both beverages and self-care products that shine with natural flavors, aromas, and uplifting qualities. AMASS’s line of hard seltzers take that unique innovation and can it, creating a refreshing new way to imbibe.