As part of our ongoing Female Forces series to celebrate Women’s History Month (March), we’re highlighting some of the leading women in beer.
Historically, brewing beer was a woman’s job, but today, the craft beer industry is largely male-dominated. However, the number of women working in the field is steadily growing: today, about 29 percent of brewery employees are female, and about 21 percent of breweries have at least one woman in a leadership role.
To celebrate women in leadership, we’re raising a glass to these female founders who are changing the face of the beer industry, one pint at a time.
1. Brey Sloan | Riverwatch Brewery
Brey Sloan is a retired Army colonel who founded the first brewery to operate in Atlanta since the days of Prohibition. She spent two decades homebrewing and mastering her craft before opening Riverwatch Brewery, studying brewing technology in Chicago, Munich, and Fujinomiya, Japan. This business is a family affair: her daughter, Anne Sloan, is also a brewer at Riverwatch.
2. Eilise Lane | Scarlet Lane Brewing Co.
Eilise Lane became interested in homebrewing after trying a unique coconut stout, and eventually, she decided to get serious about her hobby and study fermentation science at the American Brewer’s Guild. She opened Scarlet Lane Brewing Co. in Indiana in 2014, and today, her brewery is known for its gothic, witchy aesthetic, earning the label of “The Official Beer of Horror” for their HorrorHound Weekend Ale.
3. Barbara Groom | Lost Coast Brewery
Barbara Groom is a skier turned makeup saleswoman turned pharmacist turned brewery founder — clearly, she’s never been afraid of change. After she began home brewing, it took her six years to get her business idea off the ground. She started operating Lost Coast Brewery from a restaurant in Eureka, Calif., and in 2014, they opened their own facility. Their first official beer, The Great White, is still a customer favorite, along with their Lost Coast IPA and Tangerine Wheat.
4. Shyla Sheppard | Bow & Arrow Brewing Co.
After graduating from Stanford University with a degree in economics, Shyla Sheppard spent more than nine years helping other people build their businesses, and in 2013, she decided it was time to start her own. Bow & Arrow Brewing Co. was born, and the Albuquerque-based brewery now offers wild, sour, and barrel-aged beers inspired by the culture of the American Southwest and brewed with unique ingredients like blue corn, churros, and pineapple.
5. Kim Jordan | New Belgium Brewing Co.
Kim Jordan co-founded New Belgium Brewing Co. with her now ex-husband, Jeff Lebesch. The couple began brewing in their basement, and as the company grew, Kim stepped up to serve as CEO for over a decade. Kim pioneered New Belgium’s employee ownership policy, and the company is now well known throughout the craft beer industry for their conscious business practices and 100 percent employee-owned status.
6. Bailey Spaulding | Jackalope Brewing Co.
Bailey Spaulding never anticipated becoming a brewmaster. She moved to Nashville in 2006 to attend Vanderbilt University Law School, but in between study sessions, she created homebrew recipes and began sketching out the idea for her own brewery. Two years after graduation, she co-founded Jackalope Brewing Co. with her former business partner Robyn Virball. In 2013, Jackalope became the first Nashville brewery to can its beer.
7. Kate Power, Betsy Lane, and Jen Cuesta | Lady Justice Brewing
Lady Justice Brewing began as a fundraising idea amongst three friends working at a Colorado non-profit: why not drum up funds by selling home-brewed beer, and then invest that money back into the community? Today, Kate, Betsy, and Jen run a monthly beer subscription program, and all profits over cost are donated to feminist organizations in Colorado that empower women and girls. It’s a unique business model in this industry, but it serves an important purpose.
Jane Harkness is a freelance writer who provides blogging, copywriting, and proofreading services to startups, small businesses, and nonprofits. She works with clients in a variety of industries, including food and travel, and she also contributes political essays to several digital publications.