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Things are brewing for Madison’s women in the beer industry

Though women brewers are rare nationally, locally there are many.

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Spouses Erika and Jessica Jones own Giant Jones Brewery, Madison’s first certified organic brewery. | Photo via Giant Jones Brewing Company

Wisconsinites like beer. A lot. The average Wisconsin adult, over the age of 21, drinks 36.2 gallons of beer a year. That’s over 288 pints a year of the magic elixir. Most of the pints of beer being poured at Wisconsin’s breweries, which are legion, were made by men.

A national survey from the Brewers Association found that male brewery owners outnumbered women three-to-one. Less than 3% of breweries are owned entirely by women. What’s more, of brewers, 89% are men, though women make up 37% of the nation’s total beer consumption.

There are, however, locals that are bucking the trend. Let’s raise a glass to a few of these women:

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Michelle “Speedy” Riehn is co-owner of the progressive Delta Beer Lab, located near the Beltline on Badger Road. | Photo via Delta Beer Lab

Delta Beer Lab, 167 E. Badger Rd.
With a mission of crafting beer and crafting change, the forward-thinking brewery is co-owned by Tim “Pio” Piotrowski and Michelle “Speedy” Riehn. The business doesn’t accept tips, the employees are paid more than a living wage. The tip money is given to support local community organizations. Delta’s tap list constantly changes. Current highlights include a Hatch Green Chile Porter, a Strawberry Rhubarb Gose, and a Drip Trip Coffee Cream Ale.

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Less than 3% of breweries are owned entirely by women. Giant Jones Brewing Company, in Madison, is one of them. | Photo via Giant Jones Brewing Company

Giant Jones Brewing Company, 931 E. Main St., Ste. 9
The brewery is independent, women-owned, and became Madison’s first certified organic brewery. It opened in 2018 with a goal to make big beers for everyone. Mission accomplished. Spouses Erika and Jessica Jones pour beer like a Dubbel Diest, a Scotch Ale, and a Bier de Miel — a beverage brewed with honey. The brewery has won a number of awards, including medals at the prestigious Great American Beer Festival.

Vintage Brewing Company, Madison West, Madison Capitol East, Sauk City
Brittany Kraemer is the co-founder and co-owner of Vintage Brewing Company. With the help of family members, friends, and the community, the brewery opened in January 2010, serving its first house-brewed beer in February of that year. Since then, the beers have been a huge success. Vintage’s award-winning beers include an Abbey “Extra” Dubbel, an Oatmeal Stout, and “The Mosey,” a citrusy IPA.

Just outside of town, there are other craft breweries worked by women:

New Glarus Brewing Company, 2400 WI-69, New Glarus
Deb Carey is something of a legend, being the first woman to found and operate a brewery in the US. This was the early 1990s and now, the brewery’s Spotted Cow is one of the state’s top-selling beers.

Ooga Brewing Company, 301 S. Spring St., Beaver Dam
Sarah Ferree is the assistant brewer for the brewery that opened in 2019.

Tumbled Rock Brewery and Kitchen, S5718 State Rd. 136 & DL, S5718 State Rd. 123, Baraboo
The brewery at the gate of Devil’s Lake State Park has its beer made by head brewer Erica DeAnda.

Wisconsin Dells Brewing Company, 110 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy S., Wisconsin Dells
Brewmaster Jamie Baertsch holds the title of “First Female Brewmaster in Wisconsin.” She’s also one of the founding members of the Pink Boots Society, an organization helping women in the brewing industry.

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