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Talea is the women-owned brewery breaking boundaries in craft beer

Cover Image for Talea is the women-owned brewery breaking boundaries in craft beer
By Sophie Brochu
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LeAnn Darland fell in love with craft beer while serving in the Navy. It was 2012, in San Diego, at the beginning of a massive IPA wave, and Darland lived blocks away from Coronado Brewing Company’s taproom. But it wasn’t just craft beer that intrigued Darland—it was the concept of creating something from scratch.

After her time in the Navy, Darland pursued a career in corporate finance. She worked for Google for three years but felt something was missing. “I had more of an entrepreneurial spirit than I realized at the time.” She started homebrewing, earned her MBA at Berkeley, and took on a position as Head of Finance for a beer e-commerce start-up called Hopsy.

“I was super excited to see another woman interested in beer.”

In 2018 at the Hopsy headquarters in New York City, Darland came across an application from Tara Hankinson. “I was super excited to see another woman interested in beer. And she was willing to leave her corporate career to take a chance on a beer start-up. She was a homebrewer. She was overqualified for the job.” 

Photo by Sydney Butler.

At the time, Hankinson held a position in marketing at The New York Times. Both of Hankinson’s parents worked in hospitality. “I grew up with an appreciation for wine,” she says. “My dad worked for a wine importer, which inspired me to take wine classes.” After earning her MBA from New York University, Hankinson spent the summer at Wolffer Estate Vineyard in the Hamptons, where she pitched herself as a generalist intern.

“That was really the catalyst for me to get interested in beer because I realized that there was no brewery that had a winery type experience and that the customer base at most wineries is so drastically different than most breweries. The beer business is a very different model, and yet, no one was trying to capture that same audience.”

At Hopsy, Darland and Hankinson quickly bonded over their passion for beer in a male-dominated industry. They learned everything they could about the beer market, beer preferences, how the supply side works, and various ingredients. Eventually, Darland and Hankinson went into what they call “incognito mode” planning their own brewery during lunch, at night, and on weekends.

“Only two percent of breweries in America are owned by women.”

In 2018, Darland and Hankinson applied for an LLC, and TALEA Beer Co. was born. They quit their jobs in April of 2019, a date that coincided with the packaging of their very first beer, Sun Up Hazy IPA, which has since become a flagship brew.

The new raspberry gose is available on the fall flight.

“We wanted to play up the fruity characteristics of beer,” says Darland. “There were so many people—women in our lives—who didn’t like craft beer but had never tried a hazy IPA or a New England-style IPA. We dialed in the hops with tropical, floral characteristics, added a little milk sugar for creamy vanilla texture and flavor. It’s consistently been a top seller.”

The two continued brewing, packaging beer, and fundraising, and in March of 2021, TALEA’s brewery and taproom opened in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 

Photo by Sydney Butler.

“There are a lot of husband and wife couples or multi-person partnerships, but only two percent of breweries in America are owned by women,” says Hankinson.

TALEA offers various beer flights centered around lower ABV, sessionable beers with fruit-forward characteristics. “Very bitter is divisive,” says Hankinson. “We want to create flavor profiles that 90% of people will enjoy. Our target customer is the woman buying hard seltzer, cider, and rosé. We want to convert non-beer customers into beer lovers.”

The brewery space itself is inspired by the women of Bauhaus. It features pops of color and mixed textures. Opening at 8 a.m. daily, TALEA feels like a welcoming change of pace from the typical industrial brewery setting. Here, you can kick back with friends and family over beer, coffee, cheese, and charcuterie. This month, you can also attend Manicures + Beermosas or Taproom Yoga.

“We’re creating things that resonate with us and our friends and the people that we see walk into our space every day,” adds Darland. “And we’re attracting a broader consumer base.”

Visit TALEA Beer Co.

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