Oct 21, 2021 - Economy

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."

Get more news that matters about Latinos in the hemisphere, delivered right to your inbox on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sign up for the Axios Latino newsletter.

Go deeper