It’s one thing to sell T-shirts during Pride Month each June. It’s another to donate money to LGBTQ+ causes and to support them throughout the year. For breweries, one of the best ways to show kinship with the community is to brew a “gay-specific beer,” says Goldspot Brewing owner Kelissa Hieber. “If you are really putting yourself out there and making one of these beers on your own, it shows that you are doing more than just being performative.”
On Sunday, Goldspot, in conjunction with Lady Justice Brewing, will host Colorado’s first-ever beer festival dedicated to LGBTQ+ causes (it is one of just two or three queer beer fests nationwide). The Big Queer Beerfest on June 27 will feature Pride-specific beers from about twenty different local breweries, including Comrade, Call to Arms, Baere, New Belgium, Diebolt, Woods Boss, Strange Craft, the Empourium and Jagged Mountain.
A dollar from every pour will be donated to an organization (selected by the individual brewery) that supports LGBTQ+ and/or BIPOC communities. All money raised will be matched by the hosts.
Many of the participating breweries are owned by straight, white, cis-gendered men, Hieber points out, but all have proved to be friends and dedicated allies over the years. “They have made a true effort...by cultivating healthy, safe spaces. We couldn’t do something like this in some other communities.”
The impetus for the festival came about because of this momentum, but also because Hieber bought out her business partners and took over in February as the sole owner of Goldspot, making her just one of a handful of LGBTQ+ brewery owners locally and one of only two that are women.
With that platform, she has been able to collaborate with more than a dozen other breweries around town on new beers, to highlight causes that are important to her, and to bring back the Making Noise Beer project, which she founded in 2016 with fellow brewer Bess Dougherty as a way to raise money for people and causes at risk in the United States — and especially under the previous president.
Nevertheless, she wasn’t expecting the amount of interest she got in participating or sponsoring the festival. “We’ve had so many people reach out,” she says. “But the beers had to be Pride-specific. … It’s amazing to have something that is big enough to have to turn people down.”
The party, which takes place on the patio, will also feature some of the Making Noise beers, two food trucks, a drag performance by Lala Shearz and live art painting. Many of the guest brewers or brewery staff will be on site as well to pour their own beers. Next year, Hieber says, the fest will likely be large enough to host it off-site at a larger location. “We’re taking Pride to a whole new level.”
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