At these Pennsylvania spots, the fermentation is a female thing.
While homebrewing may usually be seen as the pastime of a house husband seeking hobbies, archeological research tells us that brewing was first the work of women. It was only rigid gender roles that pushed women away from brewing alcohol.
But over the past several decades, women have been coming back to brewing. That’s especially true in Pennsylvania, which has a number of breweries, distilleries, and wineries owned and operated by women.
Boutique Brewing at The Vegetable Hunter – Harrisburg, Hershey, and Carlisle
In 2017, The Vegetable Hunter, an award-winning, woman-owned vegan restaurant, expanded its offerings from delicious homemade vegan food to delicious homemade vegan beer. The brewery business is called Boutique Brewing, and while you can of course purchase beers on their own, they also pair well with Vegetable Hunter dishes.
As owner Kristin Messner-Baker told PA Eats, “[W]e always say we are the smallest local brewery. We literally have the capacity to brew one barrel at a time…so we are always brewing.” Because the brewery is so small, you can expect creative and unexpected brews, like Carrot Rope, a carrot cake golden ale, or the Kapn Krunk – Krunketize Me! stout, made with Captain Crunch cereal.
Triple Bottom Brewing – Philadelphia
This Philadelphia brewery is not your typical business, because Triple Bottom Brewing is proudly “a craft brewery with a social mission,” and that’s reflected in its name: the business’ “triple bottom line” is “beer, people, and planet.” To that end, Triple Bottom doesn’t just brew quality beer, but it also ensures brewery staff earn a living wage, works to hire people who have experienced incarceration, and sends spent grain to pasture for feed for cows.
The energy behind Triple Bottom is a three-person team led by Tess Hart. She and her husband knew that they wanted their brewery to be a community space, and that’s exactly what Triple Bottom has become. The Philly taproom has lovely natural light and serves beers that are both accessible to craft beer newbies and beers that are more creative for beer lovers looking for something new. As for food, the taproom serves a handful of meals and snacks, including nachos and cheesesteak pasties.
Silverback Distillery – East Stroudsburg
Silverback Distillery is run by a mother and daughter. And according to their website, they’re the only mother-daughter team behind a distillery in the US. This distillery owned and operated by two women takes its ceiling-shattering work seriously. Christine Riggleman, who has been nicknamed “Hooch Mama,” has earned a number of awards for her spirits. You can try some of these spirits — whiskey, gin, and vodka, to name a few — at the distillery’s East Stroudsburg production facility and tasting room. Tours of the facility are also offered so that you can learn all about distilling and how liquor is made.
Franklin Hill Vineyards – Bangor
Franklin Hill Vineyards is the oldest winery in the Lehigh Valley, with the first vineyards planted by owner Elaine Pivinski and her husband in 1976 and the winery officially established in 1982. When her marriage ended in 1985, Elaine and her winemaker, Bonnie, became a two-woman team managing the winery, soon hiring other women to help them. Eventually, the winery hosted many women and mothers working in the vineyard or watching each other’s children.
The woman-powered winery racked up awards and recognition and today produces more than 80,000 gallons of wine annually, selling a number of excellent reds, whites, and specialty wines. You can also tour the winery if you visit for a tasting.
Wallenpaupack Brewing Co. – Hawley
Located in the Pocono Mountains near Lake Wallenpaupack, the lake’s namesake brewery, Wallenpaupack Brewing Co., was founded in 2017 by Rebecca Ryman. The woman-owned brewery is also host to a brewpub and beer garden so that visitors can sip locally made beers while also enjoying conversation and quality cooking. Many of Wallenpaupack’s brews are inspired by the mountain lake itself, like the Lake Haze series of hazy double IPAs. Speaking of IPAs, like any craft brewery that knows its audience, the Wallenpaupack tap list is heavy on these hoppy brews. But there are also other delicious options like traditional lagers, pilsners, and more.
McCall Collective Brewing Company – Allentown and Breinigsville
The first fully female-owned brewery in Allentown, McCall Collective Brewing has two locations in the Lehigh Valley. Owner Kaitlin McCall wants McCall Collective guests to “feel like you’re over at your best friend’s house hanging out eating, drinking, watching some football.” All brews, which are classic beers often with touches of unique flavors, are brewed at the Allentown brewery.
Besides a brewery, the Allentown location is a full-service brewpub with a restaurant food menu. The Breinigsville location, on the other hand, is a smaller taproom with quick-service food offerings. But McCall Collective brews are available at both. Visitors can even purchase different McCall Collective memberships that allow access to discounts and specials.
Christian W. Klay Winery – Chalk Hill
Named after owner Sharon Klay’s son Christian, Fayette County’s Christian W. Klay Winery was the result of years of dreaming by Sharon and her husband. The winery opened in 1995 and since then has sold a wide selection of both dry and sweet wines and has also hosted a number of events for the community. You can also drop by the winery for a wine tasting and to enjoy the Fayette County countryside. Also, Klay Winery is not far from the famous Fallingwater, so a visit to one might pair well with a visit to the other.
Fat Bat Brewing – Hanover
Hanover-based Fat Bat Brewing is owned by Sandy Bialek and operated by Sandy and her brother, the head brewer. The 15 beers on tap at Fat Bat are concocted with an inspired mix of creativity and tradition. A pale ale is the brewery’s flagship beer, but Fat Bat will also experiment with different ingredients, like Old Bay seasoning (in the popular Choppy Waters lager). The brewery is young, having just opened in 2021, but it’s already a favorite amongst locals.
Two Rivers Brewing – Easton and Quakertown
Two Rivers Brewing was started by four friends, including two women, back in 2011, just a year after one of them suggested opening a brewpub on a whim. Judy and Brad Nelson and Kathy and Troy Reynard quickly got serious about the idea and their 20-year friendship helped them work together as business partners. Today, the company has their original brewery in Easton and a taproom in Quakertown, both of which serve food. Brews are inventive but classic and usually are named in connection with Easton and the local Pa. community.
Forgiven Wine – Philadelphia
Forgiven Wine only offers pickup or delivery in the Philadelphia area, but you may want to take a quick trip to Philly just to order some of these unique wines made by two Black women. While you’ll find traditional flavors like moscato, the company also infuses some wine with CBD. Forgiven Wine can also host private wine tastings for you and your party.
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