It all started over a couple of beers after work one night around 2010. Three friends on a stint with AmeriCorps started to think: What if the money they spent on a few beers could do some good in this world?
Though it would take a few more years to become reality, the idea began to brew. The simple yet powerful concept was this — to make great beer and make the world a better place by donating 100 percent of the profits to women and girls organizations in and around their community in Aurora, Colorado. In 2016, they – Kate Power, Betsy Lay and Jen Cuesta – finally tapped into that reality to form Lady Justice Brewing.
The first step: Figure out a way to be profitable. While studying business in law school, Power did just that by creating a model to ensure profitability before goods were even produced, a model the three women now refer to as CSB – Community Supported Beer. Much like the popular farming CSA model, subscribers pay an annual fee up front and receive two 32-ounce growlers every other month for the balance of the year, with exclusive creations. Lady Justice provides visibility to the organizations they wish to fund and can budget their production accordingly to make sure their goal is reached.
From Life Hands You Lemons Cream Ale to Friendsgiving Kettle Sour, they keep their flavors fun but not necessarily trendy. “Our rule is that we brew beer that we want to drink,” said Lay. With such an active and supportive community, they do often take requests and suggestions. In fact, their most popular beer is the Sandra Day IPA, named for the retired Supreme Court Justice who happened to read about Power and fellow co-founder and lawyer Cuesta on a legal blog.
With plans to expand the CSB and reach new customers with a tap room, the threesome signed a lease for a larger space that began in March 2020. And then Covid-19 shut the entire state down. Luckily, the three kept their day jobs (two are lawyers; the other is an assistant director of academic program management) and pivoted towards canning beer for takeout and local distribution to stay afloat. As the state reopened, they slowly began to open their doors to the public and remain hopeful their expansion dreams can continue. “There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” said Lay.
Their goal post-pandemic is to have “a trajectory that’s meaningful and true to our mission and also just wildly successful,” according to Lay. They have already donated over $32,000 to local organizations since their start. And given that their 2021 CSB memberships have sold out, it’s a good sign of things to come, both for Lady Justice and the organizations they support.
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