Oct 21, 2021 - Economy & Business

Latinas who brew seek to shake craft beer industry

A server at Mujers Brew House in San Diego rings up a customer in front of a selection of craft beers.
A server at Mujeres Brew House in San Diego rings up a customer in front of a selection of craft beers. Photo: Russell Contreras/Axios

Independent craft brewers are popping up in cities across the country, and a small but growing number of them are Latina-owned or run by a Latina head brewer.

The big picture: Latinas are opening up independent craft breweries from California to Colorado as Latina-owned small businesses continue to be one of the fastest-growing segments of the economy despite a lack of venture capital.

  • The acknowledgment comes as advocates observe Latina Equal Pay Day on Oct. 21 — a day to bring attention to the fact that Latinas earn only 57 cents for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men and must work nearly 23 months to earn what white men earn in 12.

Details: Mujeres Brew House in San Diego's historic Barrio Logan opened last year during the height of the pandemic and has since developed an international following. Carmen Favela, owner and co-founder, said the brewer came out of a club to empower Latinas who drink craft beer.

  • Three years ago, Jessica Fierro opened the Atrevida Beer Company in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and has since won a number of awards and earned a shout-out for her ingenuity from civil rights leader Dolores Huerta.
  • Around the same time, Cielomar Cuevas with husband Luis Castro opened up the San Francisc0 Bay Area-based Del Cielo Brewing Co. They create beers like Guava Dreams, a kettle sour inspired by pink guava of Cali, Colombia.
  • And Latina and woman-owned Hot Plate Brewing Company is scheduled to open in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, with a seven-barrel brewhouse.

By the numbers: Around 93.5% of brewery owners in the U.S. were white, according to the latest survey by the Brewers Association, the nation's top trade group for independent and craft brewers.

  • Only 2.2% were owned by someone of "Hispanic, Latina -o, or of Spanish Origin," the survey found. It did not break Hispanic ownership down by gender.
  • Yet, the survey found that 23.7% of all breweries were partially female-owned. Only 2.9%were entirely woman-owned.

The intrigue: Female drinkers of alcohol under 25 now outnumber their male counterparts, Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association, wrote in his analysis.

Don't forget: Missy Begay, a member of the Navajo Nation, and Shyla Sheppard, a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes, founded Bow & Arrow brewery in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They are one of the few Native American women-owned breweries in the U.S.

What they're saying: "One of the biggest reasons for wanting to own my own brewery is because I don't fit in that box of whatever a brewer is supposed to look like," Atrevida Beer's Fierro tells Axios.

  • The hairstylist-turned-brewer said she heard negative comments about her gender, ethnicity and job, and her brewery's slogan: Diversity, It's on tap!
  • But then her Dolores Huerta Mexican Lager won a best lager award at a Denver brew fest. "I was like..there's no better way to tell someone off. Let my beer do the talking."

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