Queer Beer Festival returns to East Coast this summer

photo via New Belgium Brewing Facebook

Cheers to some queers with killer craft beers! The second annual Queer Beer Festival, set to take place on June 3 and 4 in Washington DC, celebrates the unique and vibrant voices of queer-owned and/or operated breweries, as well as a few household names that have shown ongoing support to the LGBTQ+ community.

Hop Culture is teaming up with New Belgium Brewing to introduce 30 different breweries from around the country to queer beer lovers, pub crawlers, trivia heads, and day drinkers alike—aiming to create a stronger culture of inclusivity in the industry. Queer Beer Festival has three sessions to choose from, each packed with unlimited craft beer samples, live music, and awesome food options.

Here are a few of our festival favorites:

Bow & Arrow Brewing Company

Albuquerque, NM

Dakota, Manager of Taproom Operations (photo via @bowandarrowbrewing)

Owned by indigenous wives Shyla Sheppard and Missy Begay, Bow and Arrow’s beer incorporates influences and ingredients taken from their tribes’ cultures. Here you’ll find an array of hazy IPAs and funky sours like you’ve never had before.

Lady Justice Brewing Company

Aurora, CO

During their 2010 service in AmeriCorps, Betsy Lay, Kate Power, and Jen Cuesta made a plan to make beer for a better world. Queer- and woman-owned and Latina-founded, Lady Justice was the world’s first fully female-owned philanthropic brewery when it opened. They offer community-supported Beer memberships that give members access to specialty brews and other perks, all the proceeds of which go directly to non-profits.

Local Brewing Company

San Francisco, CA


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Co-founders Sarah Fenson and Regan Long opened this queer- and woman-owned San Francisco favorite in 2010. Anyone can find the brew for them at Local. From pilsners to IPAs and sours to lagers, this space is truly made for everyone. Seriously, Local strives to be a safe space for all LGBTQ+ people, making it a favorite for the, well, local community.

Denizens Brewing Company

Silver Spring, MD

Another wife-and-wife brewing duo, Julie Veratti, and Emily Bruno started Denizens Brewing Company. When it opened in 2014, it was one of the only women and minority-owned-and-operated breweries in Maryland. Serving up a variety of beers, as well as sours and hard seltzers, the brewery/ beer garden is a safe space for the local queer community and donates to LGBTQ+ organizations.

Hillcrest Brewing Company

San Diego, CA

Known as “the first gay brewery in the world,” Hillcrest Brewing Company is a part of the city’s iconic LGBTQ+ restaurant group Mo’s Universe. As a result, this gayborhood is as diverse as they come, and so is the selection of gay bars. But for craft beer brewed by queers with cute beer garden vibes, Hillcrest Brewing is unmatched. Oh, and did we mention they make pizza, too?

Red Bear Brewing Company

Washington, D.C.


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The only completely gay-owned brewery in the capital, Red Bear provides a safe space for queers to hang out. Enjoy craft beers made in-house over a board game from their vast collection. Queer founders Bryan Van Den Oever, Simon Beer, and Cameron Raspet strive for inclusivity and equality in and out of the brewery.

Urban Growler Brewing Company

St. Paul, MN

Business and life partners Jill Pavlak and Deb Loch struggled to get a loan from banks that didn’t understand how women could carry kegs and heavy bags of grain. Instead of giving up, these determined beermakers opened Minnesota’s first woman-owned brewery. Now, they are a pillar of the community and Urban Growler provides a safe space and hosts queer events like drag brunches. 

Brewed with Pride

In the spirit of inclusion, breweries attending Queer Beer Fest that are not queer-owned or operated either have Pride beers whose proceeds go to LGBTQ+ organizations. Or have robust diversity, equity, and inclusion programs and a commitment to social justice work.

For example, New Belgium, one of the event’s sponsors, is a longtime, consistent supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. One of the first breweries to hire a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Specialist—the current one, Patrice Palmer, is a Black, queer, trans intersectional leadership educator. Plus, it’s the only craft brewery in the country recognized by the Human Rights Campaign as one of the Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality scoring a perfect 100 on their Corporate Equality Index.

RELATED: Casablanca’s finest share the grim reality of being gay in Morocco

Can’t make it to the festival? Support queer brewers yourself by having a pint at one of these taprooms in person. Find queer-owned breweries near you in our City Guides.

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