Meet the cofounders of TALEA Beer Co., the first woman-owned brewery in NYC

TALEA Beer Co. is here to disrupt the beer industry with the first female-founded brewery and taproom in New York City. 

Co-founders Tara Hankinson and LeAnne Darland founded TALEA Beer Co. as a way to convert beer haters into devoted drinkers. The company’s line of “easy-to-love” fruit-flavored beers is geared toward people who enjoy rosé or hard seltzer. 

Hakinsen and Darland both have MBAs and were homebrewers long before they met in 2018 in NYC. The two women ditched the corporate world to pursue TALEA together just three months after they met. 

“We wanted to create a product and an experience that would encourage non-beer drinkers beyond the typical craft beer bros to try our product by creating easy-to-love beers here in our brewery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn,” Darland told In The Know. 

While Darland first fell in love with beer while serving in the Navy, Hankinson began as a wine lover who wondered why breweries didn’t focus more on hospitality. 

“I worked at a winery and wondered why breweries don’t have a winery-like experience that’s focused on education and hospitality,” Hankinson said. Thus, the first inkling of TALEA was born. 

But getting the kind of support TALEA needed was an uphill battle for a woman-owned business. 

“Fewer than 3% of breweries in the U.S., of which there are 8,000, are run just by women,” Hankinson explained. “Fundraising was a challenge. A lot of investors asked us if we were going to become the skinny girl of beer and be the one-tap handle across the country owned by women.”

Investors would say things like, “My wife doesn’t drink beer. My daughter doesn’t drink beer. Why would anyone drink your beer?” But Darland and Hankinson did their research, and the market was viable. 

“We had a lot of data and a lot of research that showed there was a huge opportunity in this market,” Hankinson said. “And once we opened our doors, that became our reality, where … over 70% of our customers are women.” 

TALEA Beer Co. can compete because its product is built differently. There’s none of the bitterness that beer haters find off-putting. 

“Our philosophy is to make fruit-forward beers that are low in bitterness and easy drinking,” Hankinson explained. “What that actually looks like is beers that are inspired by cocktails or wine flavor profiles or just really fun reimaginations of our favorite desserts.” 

The brand currently has a variety of flavors, with profiles like sour, hazy and tropical. The co-founders hope that TALEA will pave the way for its customers to be more open to drinking more IPAs. 

“We like to consider TALEA beer a gateway beer for many consumers who walk in the doors and say they hate IPAs — or that they think beer is either something very watery, like beer-pong beer, or something offensively bitter, like a double IPA, West Coast style.”

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