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Talea Beer Co.
Photograph: Sydney Butler Photography

See inside NYC's first woman-owned brewery and taproom

Talea Beer Co. sets the bar high with an impeccably designed taproom and crazy-good brews.

By
Shaye Weaver
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New York City's first-ever woman-owned and run brewery and taproom, Talea Beer Co. in Williamsburg, is already breaking expectations.

With its fruit-forward brews, Talea specializes in beer for people who do not normally drink ale—and, unlike any other taproom, it's also opened to the community as a workspace during the day.

RECOMMENDED: The best beer bars and taprooms in NYC

Open as of mid-March, the 9,000-square-foot spot at 87 Richardson St. has been opening at 8am with fresh coffee or cold brew, kombucha and ample room to spread out for remote workers and others just looking for a place to chill. There are two kinds of charcuterie boards available for the peckish, too.

Aside from that, its main purpose as a taproom comes alive in the evenings, when it serves up suds from some of its 30 taps, including the Sun Up Hazy IPA, Leaps and Bounds Hazy Double IPA, Raspberry Lime Crush Gose and Mixed Berry Tart Deco Sour IPA, among others.

All of Talea's brews (currently about 11 products, plus a cider) are created in its 6,000-square-foot production facility directly behind the retail and taproom spaces, where you can find six fermenters that can hold up to 40 barrels. Each brew is uniquely packaged with a fun design from the artist behind Long Island's Wolffer Estate Winery's labels, making for a can that jumps off the shelf.

Talea Beer Co.
Photograph: Sydney Butler Photography

In the next couple of weeks, Talea will begin scheduling in-person brewery tours, where visitors will be given a drink when they arrive and have a dedicated server walk them through a tasting. Information for that will be posted at taleabeer.com.

But for those looking for an open and airy spot to gather with friends over some brews, Talea presents its gorgeous, light and inviting taproom designed by Carpenter and Mason, the same company that designed several Van Leeuwen ice cream shops. There's also a backyard designed with a mural by DJ Schmidt and seating on the sidewalk that's dog-friendly.

"It's open like a beer hall but has a softer touch," said co-owner LeAnn Darland. "There's an elevated but comfortable and approachable vibe in the taproom."

Talea Beer Co.
Sydney Butler Photography

This kind of approach, where the taproom's design was built in addition to the brewing facility, rather than as an afterthought, made it possible for Darland and co-owner Tara Hankinson to provide a space for a wider community, rather than just craft beer aficionados. 

"We took a lot of inspiration from wineries, which are usually light, bright, airy and inviting," Hankinson said. "We wanted a place where non-beer drinkers and everyday people walking by in the neighborhood would want to come in for a coffee, a glass of wine or kombucha or try one of our beers."

They've done that successfully—they even have beer cocktails that use their own brews rather than seltzer or liquor, including The Talea Punch. By making "beer more relatable through cocktails and cocktails-like profiles," it opens up the craft beer scene to more people, Hankinson explained.

Talea Beer Co.
Photograph: Sydney Butler Photography

Those who can't sit down in the taproom can also just grab "crowlers," wine made by women-owned vineyards on the North Fork and more in Talea's retail space. 

Hankinson and Darland, who had been working on opening their taproom for almost three years and amazingly opened during a pandemic, are making their new space an example for how to support other women through their business. The craft beer industry is dominated by white cis-gendered men, but women are its fastest-growing segment, yet fewer than two percent of breweries in America are solely woman-owned, Hankinson said.

But at Talea, 18 out of its 23 employees are women and most of the staff did not have previous experience in the industry. Both Hankinson and Darland, who we named as women of the year in 2020, agreed to grow their talent from within and also extend logical benefits to them, including paid maternity leave.

"We view [Talea] as an opportunity to have a fresh start and a fresh perspective on the industry," she said. "We can now let go of what other people think of us and about the company we want to build...it's not just for women but for other people who are under-represented in the industry."

Talea Beer Co.
Photograph: Sydney Butler Photography

Talea Beer Co. is now open at 87 Richardson St. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

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