Name a better duo than Wisconsin and beer. Go ahead, we’ll wait.
As every Milwaukee Brewers fan or Pabst Blue Ribbon drinker knows, the Badger State has been famous for beer for over a century. But to this day, it’s unusual to see a brewery or distillery in Wisconsin owned by women. Turns out, it may just be the best pairing since…well, you know.
Historically speaking, women brewers have been crafting delicious beers for thousands of years, with brewing considered a “women’s trade” for centuries. In fact, the ancient Mesopotamians even had a brewer goddess, Ninkasi, who today lends her name to an Oregon-based brand of beer.
Today, thanks in part to organizations like the Pink Boots Society, which helps women and nonbinary folks pursue a career in the alcohol industry, that tradition is on the rise again in Wisconsin, with more woman-owned and woman-run breweries and distilleries opening in the state over the past few years. Here are a few to explore. Enjoy responsibly, and bottoms up.
New Glarus Brewing Co.
2400 State Hwy 69, New Glarus
Proudly Wisconsin-based New Glarus Brewing Co. was launched by husband-and-wife duo Deb and Daniel Carey from inside an abandoned warehouse. Today, New Glarus is considered one of the top breweries in the world, with Deb serving as president and Daniel working as head brewer. Stop by New Glarus for tours and tastings at their hillside brewery, and after you’ve visited the beer museum, head to the depot for drinks to take home.
Wisconsin Dells Brewing Co.
110 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy. S., Wisconsin Dells
Wisconsin Dells Brewing Co. is headed by brewmaster Jamie Baertsch, who’s proud to hold the title of first woman brewmaster in Wisconsin. Jamie oversees the brewing of award-winning beers that range from classic ales and lagers to lively fruit beers. Wisconsin Dells Brewing Co. regularly hosts brewery tours and is located in the same building as Moosejaw Pizza—perfect for a slice-and-pint combo.
Giant Jones Brewing Company
931 E. Main St. Suite 9, Madison
For those who love beer but also care about social justice and sustainability, Giant Jones has you covered. Madison’s first certified organic brewery, Giant Jones is proudly woman-owned and partners with local farmers and nonprofits to make good beer that you can feel good about imbibing. Owner/brewer Jessica Jones also hosts guided beer tours at the brewery to teach people about the art and science of making beer, including which chocolates pair best with beer.
1649 S. Webster Ave., Green Bay
Beer at Zambaldi is a family affair spanning multiple continents and generations. Co-owner/brewer trio Abby, David, and Wade have traveled from Munich to South America and back to Wisconsin to apply what they’ve learned about the finest beers from around the world in their own brewery. Today, they serve up the delicious results in Green Bay at their brewery taproom, where they also host music events and make specialty beer cocktails.
Pure Class Vodka
3570 N. Cty Road K, Omro
Do you like a martini at happy hour? If you’re like many Wisconsinites, the answer is yes, and Pure Class Vodka is a great addition to add a twist to your favorite martini. Founder Peggy Hendricks and her family have been brewing award-winning potato vodka and flavored spirits (apple pie moonshine, anyone?) since 2011. Today, their spirits are stocked at bars and restaurants across Wisconsin, or you can pick up a bottle online, wherever you may be reading this.
W62 N590 Washington Ave., Suite B, Cedarburg
At Handen Distillery, named for the German word for “hands,” you can sample the distillery’s unique spirits, from gin to bourbon to vodka. The company’s name reflects the hand-crafted process all their spirits are created through. Handen is proudly woman-owned—with a majority-women team working onsite—and are equally proud of being the first distillery in Cedarburg. Stop by for a bottle or have a cocktail at their onsite bar.