IT'S HERE, IT'S QUEER, IT'S DYKE BEER!
Brewmasters Sarah Hallonquist and Loretta Chung chat with us about bringing their new, absurdly drinkable Dyke Beer to New York City bars and beyond.
Talk to us about how Dyke Beer came into existence. What was your inspiration for creating this exciting new product?
Dyke Beer needed to go above and beyond, from excellent label art, to delicious taste, to events, bars, stores, and catering experiences that are safe and fun for the dyke and queer community.
photo: Lory Lyon
When the pandemic hit, we were no longer able to throw our monthly Dyke Bar Takeover events, so we shifted our thinking and came up with the idea of creating Dyke Beer. We felt that many of our lesbian bars didn’t have a good craft beer and thought, what better time to create it than now? People could grab a Dyke Beer to go and bring home some solidarity with them. Dyke Beer says, “You exist and you are important.”
How and where is Dyke Beer made?
Dyke Beer is made in Wild East Brewery in Gownanus, Brooklyn. It’s a Belgian Saison ale using New York State hops, Belgian Malt, and Belgian yeast.
What makes Dyke Beer special? What sets it apart from other beers?
We wanted to make a beer different from the many pale ales on the shelf, yet drinkable and not scary if you’re new to trying craft beer. Saisons tend not to be brewed as often because they can take much longer than the average ale. For this very particular yeast to settle (which actually adds the pop of slight “bubblegum” flavor in the beginning), it took 45 days and went from an ale on the sour side to the smooth, drinkable Dyke Beer we have available today.
We want to continue with the rarer “farmhouse” or “Belgian Style” ales. There is also a lot going on with different African styles of beer, Eastern European malts, Asian Rice Beer—there’s so much interesting flavor out there. We would love to partner with other queer owned, women owned, and Black owned breweries in the future.
How many people are involved in the making of Dyke Beer? How do you work together and collaborate to put out a final product?
We joke with our clients that this a “two dyke operation,” which is true! It is just run by us [Loretta and Sarah]. We have a partnership LLC and divide the vast majority of work between ourselves, from communication, to sales, to vendor management, to accounting, to taxes—y’all get it. We’re still working towards a liquor license which will help us expand domestically and internationally. We’ve legally had to hire a distributor, who has been great in helping us. We have a great group of dyke and queer friends who have volunteered their time to help us can the beer, who let use their networks in the alcohol industry to ask questions, and who recommended bars and restaurants in their neighborhoods that would’ve taken us weeks to find. Massive thanks to Sarose Klein and Danielle Simon.
To put out the final product, Dyke Beer works with contract brewers. We hired the team at Wild East to brew, can, and label the product and to help sell it in their store as a partnership. For the next batch, we found a larger contract brewer in New York State with capacity to brew twice as much for us.
What is Dyke Beer's ethos and ideology—what does the product stand for?
photo: Lory Lyon
A lot of our ethos and ideology comes from our first project working together as volunteers and activists for NYC Dyke Bar Takeover. The dyke identity is radical for us in the sense that we are reclaiming it and using it in a positive way—to be seen and to take up space. The dyke identity can include various sexual orientations, gender expressions. [It is] a lot of folks fighting for visibility, their human rights, and standing up for indigenous, POC, and disabled folks within the queer community.
Dyke Beer is about creating much-needed space for queer women, dykes, and transgender and nonbinary people. A lot of our dyke bars are disappearing and our gayborhoods are getting gentrified. We pay queer artists to perform at the events we produce and we donate money from the events to queer charities.
Dyke Beer is a part two to Dyke Bar Takeover in showing more visibility and getting straight beer drinkers, who [likely] haven’t thought about lost dyke space, illegal homosexuality throughout the world, transphobia, etc., to begin thinking about us and having conversations about a community different from theirs.
How has the LGBTQ+ community received Dyke Beer so far? What has been the most surprising or unexpected part about launching this endeavor?
We would say Dyke Beer has been received well by the queer and straight community! It makes our supporters excited to see the cat and dog pool table art, the name, the little paddle we had drawn with “Cubbyhole” on the side. The taste of our Saison has been received well by the craft beer store owners and new craft beer drinkers, too. People have described it as “summery,” “crushable,” “a drink I can see myself pounding down in the sun all of Pride month.”
Honestly, the most surprising part is where this beer ends up. It was easier to sell this beer to a straight dive bar in South Slope, while traditional LGBTQ bars in the West Village and Hell’s Kitchen have not been as enthusiastic.
What are your hopes and dreams for Dyke Beer in a post-pandemic world?
In a post-pandemic world, we want to sell the beer wherever in the world dykes and queers want us. We want to keep having events centered around our community and expand into larger venues, dance parties, restaurants, gaycations, and huge dyke events such as Dinah Shore. It’s so exciting for us to think about the future possibilities for this beer, new brews, and potential parties!
Find Dyke Beer at the following locations:
Astoria Bier & Cheese * Abilene Bar * Bar 718 * Beer Boutique (offers delivery!) * Bierwax * Bodeguita BK
Carpe Vino Wines * City Swiggers * Covenhoven * The Crown Inn * Dromedary * Foster Sundry * Good Judy
Heart of Gold * Hi Hi Room * Malt & Mold Gramecy * Maite * Milk and Hops Chelsea * Monster Bar * Red Bamboo Someday Bar * St. Gambrinus * Winemak’her * Zombie Hut