Two Locals Brewery co-founders Richard (left) and Mengistu Koilor are pictured holding up cans of Black is Beautiful beer, produced at Love City Brewery in Philadelphia.
Courtesy of Scott Broussard
Two Locals Brewery co-founders Richard (left) and Mengistu Koilor are pictured holding up cans of Black is Beautiful beer, produced at Love City Brewery in Philadelphia.

Regional craft breweries are making diversity a priority

Triple Bottom Brewing is distinct among breweries for its socially conscious mission, but it also stands out in another way: It’s led by a woman.

Craft brewing leadership has a well-established lack of diversity when it comes to gender and race. A 2019 survey by the Brewers Association, a national trade group, found that roughly 23% of breweries are owned by women. Moreover, brewery owners are 88% white, 4% American Indian or Alaska Native, 2% Asian or Latinx, and just 1% Black.

The Philly area brewing scene actually claims a couple high-profile elder stateswomen: Rosemarie Certo, who founded Dock Street Brewing in 1985, and Carol Stoudt, founder of the eponymous Stoudts Brewing in Lancaster County, who announced her retirement in early 2020.

In recent years, more female founders have entered the industry, like Tess Hart. There’s Jamie Queli, who launched Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing in 2014 in Flying Fish’s former Cherry Hill facility. There’s Carly Chelder, who co-founded Tannery Run Brew Works in Ambler. And there’s Laura Lacy, who, along with her husband, opened Attic Brewing in Germantown in January 2020.

Brother and sister Sasha and Renata Certo-Ware both work at Dock Street, which their mother, Rosemarie Certo, founded in 1985.
Jenn Ladd / Staff
Brother and sister Sasha and Renata Certo-Ware both work at Dock Street, which their mother, Rosemarie Certo, founded in 1985.

But when it comes to race, Pennsylvania breweries don’t buck the trend, but there are signs of progress. Two Black-owned breweries, Harris Family Brewery in Harrisburg and Two Locals in Philly, are in the works in Pennsylvania. (A third, Mack Brewing Co., is also percolating in West Philly.) As they raise funds and make plans, both outfits have been making collaboration beers with other local breweries.

In the past year, the founders of Harris Family Brewery — Shaun Harris, Jerry Thomas, and Tim White — have teamed up with Hemauer Brewing Co. in Mechanicsburg, Free Will Brewing Co. in Perkasie, and Tröegs in Hershey, and Love City Brewing in Philly’s Callowhill neighborhood. (Two Locals also pitched in on the Love City collab, producing Philly’s first edition of Black Is Beautiful, a stout that’s been brewed by more than a thousand craft breweries in a national initiative to raise awareness of and funds for police-brutality reform and victims' legal defense.)

Meanwhile, Two Locals’ West Philly founders, brothers Rich and Mengistu Koilor, have worked with Brewery Ars on West Passyunk Avenue, Wissahickon Brewing Co. in East Falls, Punch Buggy Brewing Co. near Kensington, and Chimney Rustic Ales in Hammonton. This summer they released slick new branding designed by Philly-based Say Less Studio, a Black-owned, women-owned creative firm.