USA: Gay Pride Beer Maker Announces New Brewmaster Production Resumes with New Recipe

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The J. Lewis Company announced today that it has contracted with Tunbridge Brewing of Vermont to make a reformulated Gay Pride Beer. President and CEO Jenn Lewis recalled the beer three weeks after its launch last year, due to an unworkable recipe. Distribution will resume this month in Massachusetts. The new production schedule is planned to support distribution throughout New England by September 2000. The new brewer, Liz Trott, and her partner, Janice Moran, co-own Tunbridge Brewing. The first and only woman-owned, lesbian-owned brewery in Vermont, it uses pure Green Mountain deep well water to make naturally brewed, premium gourmet beers. Ten percent of profits from the sale of Gay Pride Beer go to the J. Lewis Endowment Fund, set up by Lewis to support gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) social action and education. It is the first such fund to be administered by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.

The new Gay Pride Beer is a medium-bodied, rich, golden ale, made with four malts (pale, crystal, caramalt and flaked barley) and lightly hopped with East Kent Goldings and Willamette. Unpasteurized and lightly filtered, it will be available as an on-premise beer, and in package stores and restaurants. Suggested retail price for a six-pack is $6.99.

A former horse woman from Rhode Island, Trott began brewing in Vermont in the late 60's. Inventor of sap brew made from maple sap, she switched to brewing as a profession in 1995. "It was women who first brewed beer," she reminds folks. Recognition from internationally-known beer taster, Jonathan Tuttle, has lead to Trott's participation in the Great British Beer Festival for the last four years. Tunbridge Brewing is located in South Royalton, Vermont, the first state to pass a civil union bill. Effective July 1, it will allow gay and lesbian couples virtually all the rights and benefits of marriage. In February, Trott more than doubled her capacity to meet production for J. Lewis.

When the original recipe did not stand up under production, J. Lewis engaged Jigger Hill Brewery Ltd., operating under the name of Tunbridge Brewing, to reformulate the beer. Despite lack of product over the past year, national coverage of the launch has prompted non-stop calls, says Lewis. As recently as January 29, T.V. Guide noted that Bud Light and Gay Pride Beer were appealing to the gay market.

Gay Pride Beer is the first beer in history to be labeled "gay," according to trademark research. The idea struck Lewis in 1997. By late March 1999, distributors responding to calls from establishments whose clientele had heard about the new beer began ordering more cases than the company was scheduled to brew. The J. Lewis Company is participating in pride marches in Northampton, the birthplace of Gay Pride Beer, Provincetown, Boston, Providence, Burlington, VT and New York City.

"We do not see ourselves competing with Budweiser. We are the real thing, not a straight company vying for the GLBT Community's patronage." Lewis, who helped to coin the word "downsizing" while working as an executive at the AT&T world headquarters, named her company after her Russian immigrant grandfather. "He inspired me to create a socially-conscious business and to "manage from the heart." The "'out' name of her product, she says, gives her a strong platform from which to advocate publicly for acceptance of different life styles. Lewis' personal experience with homophobia fuels her commitment . Alarmed by the 20% rise in hate crimes in Massachusetts, Lewis says, "Company resources will help to address these and other issues that plague our Community."

The J. Lewis Company will unveil a new product on May 27 from Provincetown, MA.

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