LGBTQ+ Owned Drinks Brands to Have on Your Radar
As consumers seek beer, wine, and spirits led by LGBTQ+ community members, here’s how retailers can meet demand and support these brands
June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month, a time to celebrate and show support for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and queer community. With well-deserved attention directed toward beverage alcohol brands created by other minority industry members in recent years, consumers are also showing increased interest in LGBTQ-owned drinks brands — not just during Pride Month, but all year long.
“I feel like there is more awareness now that diverse beer brands exist,” says Bryan Van Den Oever, co-owner of Red Bear Brewing Company in Washington, D.C. “People are searching out impactful ways that they can help the LGBTQ+ community, and purchasing products is one way that they do that.”
As the U.S. population becomes increasingly diverse, he adds, demand for products made by LGBTQ+ community members will grow. “It comes down to increasing sales if retailers can find ways to effectively message their support for diverse crafters,” says Van Den Oever. “Retailers should be aware of beer brands that break the mold, so they can highlight those products.”
That means looking toward smaller, lesser-known drinks brands that go beyond supporting LGBTQ+ causes, notes Kara Larson, co-founder of Rhode Island Spirits in Pawtucket, R.I. “It used to be that massive international brands would slap rainbows on their products for Pride Month, and that’s pretty much all you saw throughout the year,” she says. “Now, LGBTQ+-owned businesses are getting a much more prominent kind of attention than they’ve had before. It’s more authentic and less marketing-driven.”
To locate new products, Larson suggests reaching out to local LGBTQ+ chambers of commerce and asking about regional beverage brands owned by community members. Retailers can also ask their distributor representatives if they carry LGBTQ+-owned products, and check with LGBTQ+ travel companies to find out about community-owned distilleries, breweries, and wineries in their area.
Retailers should also find ways to call attention to the products they carry, says Brad Beard, owner of Mercury Wine in Geyserville, Calif. “I think that if a customer were walking through your retail establishment and saw a rainbow flag next to a bottle,” he says, “it would let them know that there are gay winemakers out there, and that you’re supporting the gay community.”
Once customers are made aware of the producers and products, he adds, sales will follow. “When people discover I’m gay, you’d be shocked at the number of times that I’ll get a call later from their daughter or colleague who wants to buy some wine.”
Drizly is also working to make it easier for consumers to find and purchase such products. As of June 2021, a new filter will allow users to search for LGBTQ+-owned brands available in their area on the platform.
The list below highlights some of the best-selling LGBTQ+-owned drinks brands on Drizly. We encourage more retailers to carry and promote drinks brands owned by members of the community — not only for Pride Month, but throughout the year.
This women-owned brand offers an array of handcrafted cocktail ingredients, including shrubs, syrups, bitters, tonics, and ginger beer. Among 18.21’s far-from-standard varieties are Apple Cardamom Shrub, Japanese Chili and Lime Bitters, and Rosemary Sage Simple Syrup. Dedicated to giving back, the company donates part of its proceeds to pro-diversity charities.
Eco Terreno Wines & Vineyards
Founded in 2012 by Sebastiani Vineyards veteran winemaker Mark Lyon, Eco Terreno offers an impressive lineup of estate-grown wines, including Pink Pride rosé. Lyon’s Alexander Valley vineyard is certified biodynamic, reflecting Lyon’s passion for environmental causes. He’s also a big supporter of organizations that support the LGBTQ+ community.
Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery
The home page for this iconic Russian River Valley winery’s website includes icons for the Out Alliance the Human Rights Campaign — designed to let the LGBTQ+ community know they’re safe at Gary Farrell. The winery’s welcoming philosophy comes courtesy of LGBTQ+ winemaker Theresa Heredia, who has crafted the winery’s elegant Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines since 2012.
Jon Moore and Jason Pazmino launched Brooklyn-based Gay Beer in 2018 to make great craft beer that speaks to and supports the LGBTQ+ community. A portion of proceeds from sales of the duo’s citrus-kissed golden lager support LBGTQ advocacy groups, including The Center and Project Renewal.
Gentleman Farmer Wines
Vintners Jeff Durham and Joe Wolosz made wine together in a garage for many years before launching Gentleman Farmer in 2005. Since then, they’ve become known as pillars of Napa Valley’s LGBTQ+ community. The winery makes less than 1,000 cases per year of sought-after Bordeaux-style reds, plus a Chardonnay and a rosé, from vineyards in Napa’s Oak Knoll district.
Republic Restoratives Distillery
This women-owned, crowd-funded distillery in Washington, D.C. is out to buck convention and break glass ceilings. Case in point: Republic Restoratives’ latest creation, Madam, a blend of 7-year-old bourbon and 5-year-old rye, complete with a portrait of Vice President Kamala Harris.
Rhodium/Rhode Island Spirits
Spouses Cathy Plourde and Kara Larson founded Rhode Island Spirits (RIS), with its flagship Rhodium brand, in 2019. RIS partners with small local farms to produce distinctive products like Forager’s Gin, made with wild ingredients found along Rhode Island’s coasts and valleys. As New England’s only LGBTQ+-owned spirits brand, Rhodium supports community nonprofits and political candidates.
Tom of Finland Vodka
This organic Finnish vodka pays joyful tribute to artist and gay icon Touko Laaksonen (aka Tom of Finland). Created by the duo behind Ron de Jeremy rum, Tom of Finland has a crisp, clean profile. For each bottle sold, the company donates a percentage of proceeds to the Tom of Finland Foundation, a nonprofit promoting tolerance and the preservation of erotic art.
Urban Growler Brewing
Deb Loch and Jill Pavlak opened Minnesota’s first woman-owned microbrewery in 2014, trading successful corporate careers to chase their passion for brewing. With a mission to bring people together through beer, Urban Growler is known for traditional brews like its CowBell Cream Ale, as well as its Plow to Pint series highlighting local ingredients and the farmers who grow them.