Brewing beer has historically been woman’s work. I want to be a part of the movement to bring equity back to the craft beer industry by cofounding the first female owned and operated brewery in the state of Oklahoma.
As you can likely tell by now, I am extremely passionate about overcoming the gender biases that dominate so many areas of American life. And there are few industries as male dominated as the craft beer industry. Only around four percent of craft breweries in the United States are exclusively female owned or operated and less than 1 percent are exclusively owned by people of color.
On top of that, only 31 percent of women, compared with 49 percent of men, say they drink craft beer. (Although that number is up from 25 percent in 2015—progress!) This might be because of the rampant objectification of women in beer advertising. Underrepresented minorities also don’t feel welcomed and included by an industry dominated by white men. But women and minorities should have equal access to enjoying a great beer, one of life’s ultimate pleasures, without having to endure sexist marketing and a male-focused product line. Plus, women should have the option of supporting other women when they buy that delicious beer.
Interestingly, brewing historically has been the domain of women! In ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, women were the ones who brewed beer in their kitchens, sold the surplus for profit and owned the taverns. The Sumerians and Egyptians worshiped brewing . A woman, German nun Hildegarde von Bingen, was the first to recommend adding hops to beer. In fact, brewing didn’t become the male-dominated industry it is today until 1200 to 1500 AD, when brewing guilds began to take over and industrialization turned brewing into a big business. But the vast majority of beer brewers and purveyors around the world were women for over 4,000 years!
I believe the craft brewing industry—which, by definition, gives preference to craft over industrialization—is ripe to usher in the return of women to the business. But so far, it’s been a slow process.
So, to speed up that change, my business partner, Jacque Braun, and I are starting Equity Brewing Company! We chose the name “Equity” because we believe that everyone, no matter their background, ethnicity or gender, should have the opportunity to achieve their dreams. Plus, good beer is an asset to life—you could say it builds equity in pleasure!
We’re still in the early phases, but our goal is to become the first female owned and operated micro-brewery in the state of Oklahoma! I’m excited about bringing my passion for equity to the world of craft beer. I absolutely love a great beer and being able to make one that has meaning behind it is a dream come true.
We hope that you’ll watch this website for more information about Equity Brewing as we embark on this exciting journey. In the meantime, here are some articles with more information about female brewers throughout history and today to peruse:
“Women and Beer: A 4,500-Year History Is Coming Full Circle” in The Atlantic
“Brewing Beer Has Always Been a Woman's Game” on Vice.com
“Pour Us Another: The History of Women and Beer, from Ancient Past to Present” on The Exploress podcast