We had the good fortune of connecting with Betsy Lay and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Betsy, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Lady Justice Brewing was started as an answer to a fundraising problem. Kate, Jen, and I (the three founders) served in AmeriCorps together 2009-2011. We were fundraising for nonprofits right in the middle of the recession and there was virtually no money available. We used to go out for beers after work and talked a lot about how hard it was to convince people to give away the little extra money they had. On one of these nights, Jen remarked at how interesting it was that people still chose to spend their money on gathering in a taproom for a beer and she wished we could just take the money from breweries and donate it back to the community. That idea stuck with us and three years later we established Lady Justice Brewing – a philanthropic brewery that donates profits to organizations that support women and girls.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My career as a brewer and a business owner has been a series of a lot of tiny steps that have built up over the years. I never thought this is what I’d be doing in my life. It’s truly one of the most challenging and rewarding things I’ve ever done. It was certainly not easy and I don’t think it every will be. Along with my two co-founders, we created something that wasn’t really being done in Colorado (or anywhere else) at the time. We had a lot of skepticism thrown our way both about being one of the only all-female owned breweries in the world and being one of the only social enterprise breweries in the world. We’ve succeed primarily by trusting our guts and being honest and authentic with our community.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
From the airport, we’d head to Rosenberg’s at Stanley Market for a bite, then head a few blocks south to Lady Justice so that I could show them around the brewery. That evening, we catch a show at the hi-dive, grabbing food at Sputnik beforehand. Little Man for dessert and a cocktail at Rita’s Law for a nightcap. The next day, we’re hitting the DAM and Clifford Still. Day three is a lovely hike in Evergreen followed by lunch at the Country Road Cafe. We’ll take the long way home – heading to Bread Bar in Silver Plume for an acoustic show from one of the many great Denver singer-songwriters gracing the stage that night (I’ll have their classic drink pairing: the Marble Rye (stubby bottle of Coors Banquet and a shot of rye whiskey). Day four – road trip to Paonia. We do some camping, hiking, and visiting of wineries (Storm Cellar for sure). I guess that takes us to day five or six. Back to Denver, but we stop in Glenwood Springs on the way to pick up bottles at Casey Brewing and grab a donut at Sweet Coloradough. Day seven – we walk from my house down the Ralston Creek Trail to Olde Town Arvada (we’ve got a lot of booze and donuts to walk off). Burger and beer lunch at Denver Beer Co and then shopping, coffee at Hunter Bay, stop by Spirit, Wine, Provisions to grab a bottle of wine. Walk home, order YP Asian hello for dinner in. Woah. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so unexpectedly prepared for a question in my entire life.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The amazing women brewers that came before us. We’ve been mentored by so many women in the beer industry who believe in us and our idea.
Friends and Lovers Photography, Bradlee Arendt. Bryan Rowe, Alison Wisneski