According to a 2021 survey by Brewers Association, women only account for 23.7% of brewery owners, compared with 75.6% of males. Even further, only 2% of breweries in the U.S. are fully women owned. Two breweries in Colorado are challenging that statistic by operating as a 100% fully owned space. These breweries not only provide a welcome space for women of all kinds but give back to the community and raise visibility in the beer scene.
Enter Lady Justice Brewing, a brewery that opened in 2020 by co-founders, Betsy Lay, Kate Power, and Jen Cuesta and dreamt up during their 2010 service in AmeriCorps, is one of the few fully Latina-founded, Queen & Women-owned breweries in the city.
Lady Justice Brewing got its first official taproom in 2020, although they’d been brewing since 2016 and had serving their beer at various locations, but their home at 9735 East Colfax in the Aurora Cultural Arts District is where they truly began to thrive. With a focus on “great beer, better world,” Lady Justice has been doing its part to become a part of its local community with collaborations, fundraisers, and events that benefit and empower women and girls in the state of Colorado. Betsy Lay, co-founder, sole owner, and head brewer of Lady Justice said, “As a brewery owner and a leader in the craft industry, it’s my responsibility to do my part to shift beer culture away from that homogeny and towards a culture that embraces diversity.”
Goldspot Brewing is another example of a woman-owned spot, but Kelissa Hieber’s journey to becoming 100% owner was a little different than Lady Justice, but nonetheless interesting. According to their website, Goldspot was opened by brothers-in-law, Matt Hughes and Alex Sward in 2015. Hieber was brought in as a server in 2016 and quickly escalated to brewing apprentice and inquired about buying into the brewery after some time of taking on more responsibility and elevating in her role. When Sward and Hughes stepped back, Hieber was given their spot and collaborate with Ryan an Winnie DuBois for a short period of time in 2018 until now, where Hieber is now full owner of Goldspot.
The brewery scene is slowly shifting towards being more inclusive for underrepresented groups and Lay has seen it first hand being a part of the LGBTQ+ community here in Colorado. What’s more, there’s been a slight increase in women working in the industry. In 2019, a study from Brewers Association said, “Female representation among craft brewery employees grew to around 37 percent in the “non-production, non-service” staff roles, and in Colorado, Lay says, “Luckily, there are a lot of women working in the industry in Colorado today, so our visibility helps fight that stigma.” We’re hoping this number continues to increase, especially in roles of leadership within the industry. For now, we can do our part by appreciating and giving back to the breweries in our community that we believe in.