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% women owned space. These breweries have not only provided a welcome space for women of all kinds but have give back to the community and raised visibility in the Colorado beer scene.
Lady Justice Brewing, a brewery that opened in 2020 by co-founders, Betsy Lay, Kate Power, and Jen Cuesta, was dreamt up during their 2010 service in AmeriCorps, and 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 began serving their beer at various locations, but their permanent 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 become an important part of the 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.
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. After some time growing more knowledgable in the role of brewing apprentice, she inquired about buying into the brewery, and when Sward and Hughes stepped back, Hieber and collaborator Ryan and Winnie DuBois were given the chance to run GoldSpot. In 2018, Hieber became full owner of Goldspot and remains the single owner to this day.
The brewery scene is slowly shifting towards inclusivity for underrepresented groups and Lay has seen it first hand as 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.