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The Best LGBTQ+ Breweries


There aren’t many people who would view the craft beer industry as necessarily queer. For years it has been predominantly a cis-white-male-oriented profession that we’ve largely supported because…well, we didn’t know we had options. And we could all use a nice cold beer from time to time, so we went with what we knew.

But maybe it’s time to look outside what we know about the craft beer industry. Perhaps it’s high time to start focusing on showing extra love to those in our community, supporting us, and sharing our ideals.

Ya know, instead of “Jim from Undenominational Boring Lite Beer Co.” (no offense to the Jim’s out there).

The good news is, that there are WAY more LGBTQ+ breweries and small beer makers than we thought across the country! Which has absolutely been a long time coming but we are so happy to see that progress is always happening. Even if sometimes it doesn’t seem that way.

So, here’s 10 truly stellar craft beer companies all owned, operated, and affirmed by LGBTQ+ people.

Bow & Arrow Brewing Co. (Albuquerque, NM)

Shyla Sheppard and Missy Begay standing in front of a gray wall.

Shyla Sheppard (left) and Missy Begay (right)

Photo courtesy of newmexicomagazine.org

Founded in 2016 by Shyla Sheppard and her wife Dr. Missy Begay, these women are putting a stamp on the craft brewing market with some selections that are truly wild. They created Bow & Arrow to put an appreciation and emphasis on their personal origin story and that of the land around them.

“We wanted to explore our connection to this special place. The land, the people. Indigenous ingredients captured our imagination,” Sheppard says.

By using extremely local ingredients in their brews, such as cultivating yeast from a peach tree grown on their property and sprigs of lavender from a local farm, they are creating beers that are completely their own.

Their Savage Times Sour IPA is one of our favorite original creations of theirs, but seeing their creativity at work is really something else.

They’ve also launched the Native Land Beer initiative, providing participating breweries with an original beer recipe to pay homage to the Native land they brew on. Donating to various organizations that contribute to embolden and give back to Native communities.

Fullsteam Brewery (Durham, NC)

Ari Sanders standing in front of a red door.

Ari Sanders @ Fullsteam Brewery

Photo courtesy of Fullsteam Brewery

Anyone from Durham knows one thing for certain, and that’s how to get down and celebrate. Fullsteam Brewery hosts dozens of different events every month, but also emphasizes making sure everyone is there and having a good time!

They are also an active part in celebrating and supporting the queer community, a huge part of which has been overseen by their Director of Taproom Operations Ari Sanders. Sanders, who identifies as a BIPOC Queer Woman, has promoted inclusivity in their brewing program.

She has also made sure they are selling Pride merch year-round because we all know Pride doesn’t end when June does!

They have also participated in the Queer Beer Fest this past year, where dozens of other breweries owned and supported by the queer community gather to…well, drink beer!

Local Brewing Co. (San Francisco, CA)

Regan Long (left) & Local Brewing Team

Regan and her team

Photo courtesy of GoFundMe

This queer-owned and women-owned brewery is one of the only of its kind in the Bay Area. Local Brewing Co. co-founder, Head Brewmaster (and overall science wiz) Regan Long has been carving out a space for more queer and inclusive brewers in the industry. Luckily, there has been a much broader influx of queer brewers in the industry and people encouraging diversity and inclusion wherever they go, which makes Local’s stance much easier.

“It’s been fantastic to see more visible and accepted diversity in the industry of late,” Long says. “More perspectives and opinions always drive new, innovative ideas and the industry is better for it.”

She and her team have been mixing up some fantastic brews, including their Gay Crush Tropical Blonde. Which, a portion of sales goes to support the SF LGBT Center. And is available always because Pride stops when? Never.

Dorchester Brewing Co. (Boston, MA)

Cheers to the weekend!

Punchbowl Kettle Sour Beer from Dorchester Brewing Co.

Photo courtesy of Dorchester Brewing Company Instagram

Back in the 1940s, right when Boston’s wealthiest started to up and move out of Dorchester, Boston’s LGBTQ+ residents started to move in and make it home for the community. Over time it has become a welcome safe haven for all kinds of diverse individuals, but with an open queer foundation.

Dorchester Brewing Co., founded by Matt Malloy and his husband, planted its roots right in the middle of some of the most iconic Queer Neighborhoods in the area.

“You don’t just build a brewery to make great beer, but to serve a community and make people happy.” Malloy says.

And that’s exactly what they continue to do.

Guardian Brewing Company (Saugatuck, MI)

Guardian Brewing Company logo with a rainbow-outlined and inverted triangle with a winged unicorn.

Guardian Brewing Company

Photo courtesy of Guardian Brewing Company

If their Rainbow Unicorn logo didn’t give it away immediately, Guardian Brewing Co. is an active supporter of the LGBTQ+ community.

Also being fully female-owned and queer-owned, they’re building a place to celebrate being who you are, with some incredible (vegan-friendly) food and drinks, right next to Lake Michigan.

Owner Kim Collins, having multiple accolades in the brewing community (including a Cicerone certification in 2016), certainly knows her way around crafting excellent brews. She actively advocates for diversity and inclusion in her work and is a huge part of creating a more queer space for others passionate about great beer. And recently released Werk Boots, a Queer Beer celebrating the Michigan queer community by directly acknowledging and supporting the ones in it.

Goldspot Brewing Co. (Denver, CO)

Kelissa Heiber at Goldspot Brewing Co. holding a beer.

Kelissa Heiber at Goldspot Brewing Co.

Photo courtesy of Goldpsot Brewing Co. Instagram

There are plenty of people who make Goldspot Brewing Co. a proverbial gay Mecca, but Kelissa Hieber might be the most influential. After studying brewing on her own, becoming Head Brewer at Goldspot, buying out the owners, and claiming full ownership of the brewery, Hieber is crushing it.

From promoting Drag Bingo and Brunch events and other community fundraisers, and their newest brew “It’s Brittney, B****”, Goldspot is quickly becoming one of the most noteworthy queer breweries in the industry.

They just want to go that extra mile for you. Ya know?

Big Rip Brewing Co. (North Kansas City, MO)

Bri Burrows mixing ingredients with a large wooden paddle in the brewery.

Bri Burrows from Big Rip Brewing Co.

Photo courtesy of PorchDrinking.com

Co-owner and Head Brewer Bri Burrows has always had a penchant for brewing, going from weekend bartender at Big Rip to her current standing in just under five years. If that wasn’t enough, she’s also the first female head brewer in the Kansas City area!

She continues to work with the Pink Boots Society of Kansas supporting women in brewing AND collaborating with Lily Waite of The Queer Brewing Project, encouraging and supporting queer beer makers in the industry.

She also spearheaded the creation of their “Try and Tear Me Down” Boysenberry IPA, which was donated to the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project.

Burrows is busy! But continues to help make Big Rip Brewing Co. the most inclusive and awesome brewery that it is today.

Provincetown Brewing Co. (Provincetown, MA)

smiling man holding a six pack of beer.

Provincetown Brewing Co.

Photo courtesty of Provincetown Brewing Co.

As queer people, ya just gotta know about Provincetown, the ultimate retreat for LGBTQ+ people. Provincetown Brewing Co. is the place to be and usually involves a drink or two.

As is stated on their website: “Activism is our ethos.” The brewery makes it a point to contribute to and support LGBTQ+ organizations with the sale of all their brews. Each donating to a variety of different charities and organizations to keep supporting the people who do the same to us.

In particular, their #draftivism program donates 15% of all profits to a multitude of organizations. “From LGBTQ+ inclusion to environmental conservation and support of a year-round artists community on the Outer Cape.”

They’re a queer brewery with a mission, and for that, we give the biggest cheers. Probably with a Bearded Mistress IPA in hand.

Necromancer Brewing (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lauren Hughes of Necromancer Brewing holding a beer.

Lauren Hughes of Necromancer Brewing

Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Brewery and Diversity Council

Necromancer Brewing Co. might be one of the coolest concepts for a brewery, they pride themselves on “resurrecting” old styles of beer…. get it?

This beautifully macabre brewery is bringing back some killer brews, courtesy of their Head Brewer Lauren Hughes. Being the second ever female head brewer in Pittsburgh, as well as being a member of the queer community, she has always had her work cut out for her. And, boy, did she come to work.

This beer program has something for everyone, from the Ms. Peacock (with the Wrench) Summer Blonde to their Kill Switch Red IPA, you’ll be dead wrong not to give them a try.

Show up for the Drag Shows, stay for the spooky beer.

Ponysaurus Brewing Co. (Durham, NC)

Ponysaurus Brewing Co.

Ponysaurus Brewing Co.

courtesy of their website

As it very clearly states on the Ponysaurus Brewing Co. website, this is “The Beer Beer Would Drink If Beer Could Drink Beer.” 'Nuff Said.

Specializing in both traditional and experimental styles of beer, they really caught our attention when they rode in on that Ponysaurus of theirs to defend the LGBTQ+ community.

After a video of the Lt. Governor of North Carolina made a certain comment, they decided to take a stance in one of the most clever ways possible. Their Don’t Be Mean To People beer donates a portion of every sale to support LGBTQ+ organizations.

“So we know in his heart he doesn't believe other North Carolinians are "filth." We’re so sure of it, we’re helping to fund the good work that could be his greatest act in public office.”

So cheers to education, stopping bigotry in its tracks, and #fundthefabulous.

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Mjolnir

Like many of the recent Marvel Cinematic Universe films, LGBTQ+ fans awaited the release of Thor: Love and Thunder in open anticipation of the inclusivity that both Marvel and Disney had promised. However, the fans were only setting themselves up for disappointment when the film was finally released.

Despite passionate assurances from studio heads to key actors, Thor: Love and Thunder was NOT spectacularly gay. It wasn’t even that good…

Premiere Night Promises

A bolt of lightning cuts across a rainbow on a dark and stormy night.

Lightning bold across the sky

Photo by Bill D.

Standing on the red carpet at the London Premiere of the film, director and actor Taika Waititi and fellow cast members Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson were offered up the inevitable question: “How gay is the film?

Amidst some laughter from the crowds, Waititi gestured towards Portman to respond. The actress (who plays Thor’s love interest, Jane Foster, throughout the franchise) raised the microphone to her lips and thought for a moment, before delivering a quiet yet fateful: “So gay!

Barely a moment had passed before the gathered fans went wild and Taika Waititi gave his own verdict: “Super gay!”. Tessa Thompson made no statement on the ‘gayness’ of the film, instead opting to swing her microphone around suggestively. As more cheers erupted, a second round of “super gay” slipped out of Waititi’s mouth, before he urged the fans to enjoy the film.

Thor: Love and Thunder’s LGBTQ+ Potential

Thor’s movie-goers were definitely hyped up for a gay extravaganza and they had a specific character in mind. The fan-favorite Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson, stumbled her way into the MCU during Thor’s third film, Ragnarok. The Asgardian warrior won many people over with her wit, sarcasm, and pure badassery.

After the events of Avengers: Endgame *spoilers*, Thor Odinson gives up his claim to the throne of Asgard and names Valkyrie as king in his stead. This left many fans excited to see what would become of the character, especially after certain revelations were made at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con:

“As a new king, she has to find her queen. So that’ll be her first order of business.”

With these words, Tessa Thompson threw her LGBTQ+ fans into a frenzy, with heavy expectations for the then-upcoming fourth installment of the Thor films. Indeed, in an interview with the LA Times, shortly before the film's release, Tessa Thompson was asked to comment on the sexuality of her character. She responded with several promising remarks, including “there’s a lot of folks that are righteously very hungry for that representation to exist in these movies, as am I”.

*Warning: spoilers ahead!*

So, How Gay Was Thor 4?

To put it simply: not gay at all. Not only did Valkyrie end up without a fabulous new queen, her non-heteronormative sexuality only got the barest mention (a brief line about a previous, now dead, girlfriend). Valkyrie may have made bedroom eyes at some pretty ladies before an action scene spoils the moment, but that’s about as much as we get.

The film does get some credit for introducing a trans character in a minor yet significant role. Thor returns to his people (after a brief stint as a Guardian of the Galaxy) only to find out that the daughter of one of his closest (and deceased) friends is now a boy. The issue is, whether due to personal prejudice or some alien inability to grasp the concept of being transgender, it does take Thor a frustrating few moments to come to terms with the change. And to stop deadnaming.

In fact, the only concession to the queer community was Taika Waititi’s extraterrestrial character Korg finding a husband in one of the closing scenes. This heartfelt moment was somewhat underscored by the revelation that Korg’s entire species is male, meaning he had no other choice but to be ‘gay’.

This Is Not Marvel’s First Queerbaiting Attempt

Close up of an eye reflecting an unknown scene as a rainbow crosses the image.

Photo by Harry Q.

This is, by far, not the first time that LGBTQ+ fans have been sorely disappointed by the workings of Marvel and Disney. In fact, people across many social media platforms have been chiding expectant viewers for once again falling for classic queerbaiting tactics. “Being queerbaited by the MCU is like being a golden retriever with a human who always pretends to throw the ball”, one Tumblr user declared.

Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson, was the perfect moment for the MCU to introduce its first lesbian lead. Larson’s character seemed to have an intense relationship with another woman, going so far as to help raise her child (before Larson’s Carol Danvers disappeared from Earth for 6 years). Despite leaning into several romantic tropes, the status of their relationship was never fully fleshed out. However, it was also the franchise’s first female-led superhero movie, so maybe they thought that introducing her as a lesbian would make the film too awesome.

The heavily anticipated Avengers: Endgame was also slated to introduce the MCU’s ‘first gay character'. While many fans were excited, particularly as this would be the second of Larson’s appearances on screen, the big gay build-up was a massive letdown. The film’s director Joe Russo made a cameo as a blip survivor mourning the loss of his husband. A five-second throw-away scene that had no impact on the outcome of the film. Big whoop...

Even when we did see a film with a gay lead, The Eternals, there were also ten other straight leads. At that point, it just seemed more like basic probability than an attempt at pushing LGBT+ superheroes into the spotlight.

Why Can’t Disney Let Marvel Be Gay?

The big problem with allowing a few characters to be anything other than cishet is that there are still many countries in the world that outlaw homosexuality. As much as we like to think that the MCU is being made for comic book fans, we all know the purpose of the films is to make money for Disney. And without certain markets in Asia and the Middle East, Disney wouldn’t be raking in up to (and over) one billion dollars per theatrical release.

Is There Any Hope For LGBTQ+ Fans In The MCU’s Future?

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the second in the much-loved Black Panther arc, will be released in cinemas this November. The studio has confirmed that the film will contain a queer character. Actress Michaela Coel will play Aneka, a warrior, and trainer of the king’s guard. Whether or not her diversity will stand out in the film (let alone endure for more than a 10-second scene that can be easily cut) remains to be seen.


Next year’s The Marvels film, starring Brie Larson, Iman Vellani, and Lashana Lynch may offer the MCU a chance to redeem itself in the eyes of its LGBT+ fans. The studios may feel it’s finally time to offer us the heartwarming lesbian relationship between Larson’s Carol Danvers and Lynch’s Maria Rambeau that seemed to be teased in the first Captain Marvel. Don’t raise your hopes too high, though, as you may yet end up as a stubborn golden retriever waiting for a cinematic universe to finally throw that rainbow ball.