The craft brewing industry is dominated by men. According to the Brewers Association, more than 77 percent of craft brewery owners around the U.S. are men. But one organization is having success in its efforts to change that statistic, bringing more women into the underrepresented beer scene.
A unique lager is just one reason customers are drawn to Lady Justice Brewery in Denver, Colorado.
“We run the range. Right now, we have a really fun Pride beer, our seltzer, or our sour beer, we tend to do pales,” said Betsy Lay, the owner and head brewer of Lady Justice Brewery.
Lay says it’s the welcoming and inclusive atmosphere that keeps the regulars coming back. But pouring into the community is the brewery’s main mission.
“We donate a majority of our profits over cost to nonprofits in Colorado that work with women and girls,” said Lay.
The brew barrels inside this brewery are named after seven lady Supreme Court justices is just one clue of what sets this brewery apart from the rest.
“We’re also all female-owned, female-founded,” Lay said.
Lay makes up one-third of this women-owned crew here in Denver. This is a huge breakthrough in an industry with surprisingly low statistics.
“We learned very quickly that us existing as a female-owned, female-brewed company was actually really important to a lot of people we just, we had no idea,” said Lay.
“There’s still a lot more representation than there was at one point, but we’re still, I would say, for sure, under-represented,” said Emilie Stewart Maskwa, senior brewer at Blue Moon Brewery in Denver.
An international nonprofit Pink Boots Society makes it its mission to change that, and it’s working. Over the year, they’ve provided almost 80 $2,800 scholarships to aspiring female brewers nationwide.
Maskwa recognized the benefit Pink Boots Society can make in cities across the country, so she helped form a Denver chapter five years ago.
“Creating space where females are able to freely express themselves, maybe in an environment that they don’t necessarily get at their normal jobs,” explained Maskwa.
With their boots-to-the-ground approach, they raise scholarship money through fundraisers.
They also provide startup money and coaching, all things that wouldn’t be affordable on a brewer’s salary.
“They know how important offering these scholarships to people who normally wouldn’t have access to these things is,” said Maskwa.
Currently, at more than 2,400 members strong, Pink Boots offers that access to women brewers in 32 different countries, including the U.S. with chapters in several states.
A scholarship from the Pink Boots Society is exactly what helped Lay and her team open doors to Lady Justice in 2020. She’s hoping her brewpub will inspire other young women to join Pink Boots, so younger women aspiring to join the industry will be equipped with resources to brew long term.
“Being able to show people that women know how to brew, women know how to run businesses, women can be successful at this, and we can do it in a way that gives back to our community,” said Lay.
If you’re an aspiring brewer in need of financial help, you can apply for a scholarship through Pink Boots, make a donation or sign-up to volunteer on pinkbootssociety.org.