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  • Writer's pictureDana Piccoli

Raising a glass to queer beer, wine, and spirits makers across the US

The craft beverage industry has been booming in recent years. As of 2019, there were over 8,000 craft breweries alone in the United States. That's a lot of talent, money, and inspiration. As we are wont to do at Queer Media Matters, we wanted to highlight queer-owned breweries, wineries, and distilleries currently operating in the US. Next time you want to raise a glass (if you are 21 or over, of course), consider doing so with one of these fine businesses. (Side note, these businesses were listed as queer-owned either on their own sites or in interviews and profiles.)

Hillcrest Brewing claims to be the "World’s First “Out and Proud LGBT Brewery" and located in San Diego's queer neighborhood. It also happens to be a part of the same hospitality group that includes Gossip Grill and Baha Betty's. Hillcrest offers cheekily named beers, including the Perle Necklace Pale Ale and U-Hawl Hefe.

Gay Beer. Yes, that's the name! Jon Moore and Jason Pazmino are the brewmasters behind Gay Beer, a light and crisp lager with lower gluten content. The cans, dressed in a jaunty red bandana and a sky blue background, would look right at home anywhere from Fire Island to West Hollywood. Check out where you can get your own Gay Beer, with a portion of the sales going to LGBTQ non-profits.

If you are in the NYC area, you will hopefully run into Dyke Beer. The beer is a "tribute to lost Dyke Spaces and is creating future ones for our community. For queers, trans, nonbinary, womxn, and those that identify with dyke culture." Yes, an inclusive, activist beer. What does Dyke Beer taste like? According to the brewers Loretta and Sarah, "Dyke Beer is an American Saison with balanced notes of black tea, chamomile, white pepper, and bubblegum." I'll take 17.

Gay-owned Red Bear Brewing in DC is all about creating an inclusive and safe space for the entire community. In addition to making some delish brews like Grande Goddess Vanilla Latte Stout and Something About Rosemary Saison, they are also producing hard seltzers and ciders. Basically, something from everyone over the age of 21.

Urban Growler Brewery is led by married couple Jill Pavlak and Deb Loch and has the distinction of being the first women-owned brewery in Minnesota. You can find their approachable yet innovative brews all across Minnesota in stores and on tap.

In the sleepy Lake Michigan vacation town of Saguatuk, you'll find LGBTQ-owned Guardian Brewing. Guardian specializes in barrel-aged and session beers like VanillaCorn Porter and Gold Phoenix Session IPA. Located in the gorgeously restored and famed Red Barn building in Saugatuck, you'll have to add this spot to your list when vacationing is once again on the table.

If wine is more your thing, I hear you. I'm as apt to go for a Shiraz as I am for a porter, and these queer-owned wineries and winemakers are doing some amazing work.

Napa Valley wines are on the menu at Gentleman Farmer, Jeff Durham and Joe Wolosz are making classic California wines like Cabernets and Chardonnays, most for under $100 a bottle. They even have a wine club you can join to make sure their new varietals make it into your glass first.

Head north to Oregon, and you'll find lesbian-owned Remy Wines, led by winemaker Remy Drabkin. What may surprise you is this Willamette Valley winery actually specializes in Old World Italian wines. You can actually visit the tasting room by appointment only, and masks are required. Remy also ships to most states, so you can also support this queer-owned business from afar.

Over in Isle La Motte, Vermont, Zafa Wines winemaker Krista Scruggs makes some amazing New American wines with a focus on sustainability, or as Zafa puts it, "just fucking fermented juice from responsibly farmed living fruit." Love. Zafa wines are so popular that they are currently out of stock, so you'll want to follow their Insta for updates. Meanwhile, if you live in New York, California, Massachusetts, Texas, Illinois, Oregon, or Maine, ask your local distributors about getting your hands on some Zafa. If you are in Vermont, check this out.

Prefer the hard stuff? The world of craft liquor in the US keeps getting better and better, so I don't blame out. Check out these two queer-owned distilleries guaranteed to boost your spirits.

Queer-owned Republic Restoratives Distillery is rocking the DC-area with their innovative spirits like Madam whiskey, inspired by Vice President Kamala Harris, and Borough Bourbon finished in 50-year-old Armagnac casks. In 2015, the distillery raised over $100K through crowdfunding and has been wowing the community ever since.

If clear spirits are your jam, then lesbian-owned Rhode Island Spirits should be up your alley. They are making their own vodka, gins, and liquors, utilizing local resources like Coffee Black Walnut Vodka with locally roasted coffee and foraged black walnuts, or their Rhode Island Red Vodka infused with hibiscus and rosemary.

Do you have an LGBTQ-owned brewery, winery, or distillery? Let us know in the comments.

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