EPISODE 29: Can This Beer Stop Lesbian Bars From Going Extinct?

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Show Notes

These beer lovers created a specialty line that just might help preserve lesbian culture — even as gathering spaces like lesbian bars disappear.

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Transcript


Straw media. There's a lot of
space for the capital g gay man,

SIS, Gay man, but there
isn't a lot for queer women. And

so part of our campaign is the
lack of oars, the lack of space

and also just the lack of visibility
in general. This is Lucas greenly from

next city, show about change makers
and their stories. Truth is, there

are solutions to the problems of pressing
people in cities. If you're listening,

I hope it's because you want to
spread good ideas from one city to the

next city. I want to start
with Brian Lee. He's a designer who

lives in New Orleans and when the
city had begun removing all those confederate monuments,

Brian launched the paper monuments project.
These are posters hung where there ought

to be monuments celebrating the city's rich
black history. The posters fill the void

until the day hopefully comes when physical
monuments will replace them. So I was

listening to Brian Lee give a talk
about race and culture. He said something

that stuck with me. He said
Cultures Springs up and comes to life whenever

a community is excluded by the mainstream, because being excluded forces us to create

our own spaces and in these spaces
we grow a culture of our own.

I thought that was a helpful context
when thinking about all kinds of cultural preservation.

And it's pride month, so I
start to think about all the queer

spaces that were created as society excluded
lgbtq people. Most straight people don't realize

this, but one of those spaces, lesbian bars, is rapidly disappearing and

today we're going to spend this episode
talking about how that Reality Inspired Lobretta Androw

Chung and Sarah Hall in quiest to
Start Dyke Beer. It's a beer and

so much more. Here is our
reporter, Oscar Perry, a bellow who

first covered this story at next city. You're a business in economic justice expert,

but you're also a bit of a
beer kind of sore. So I

wonder if you've tried dyke beer and
what you thought. Oh Yeah, I

think I'm really excited because they're bringing
back the the tall girl goes a for

their pride month, not only because
it's good, but it has a nice

surprise of it's made within the lay
and pink salt, so it turns out

to be a very nice shade of
pink, which I think just goes longer

well with the month. So excited
for that, Feback. What about it

made it sound like it would be
a next city story, the idea of

not just a woman owned but also
a queer owned brand going into the space

that is so known for being like
the very straight, almost toxic, even

masculin kind of space. Right,
we're talking about beer, taking a product

like that in any of trying to
reclaim some the it for a population that's

traditionally left out of that. The
kind of discussion, not just the discussion

among like who likes beer, but
who can own a be who can create

a brewery, who can get financy? I don't know if you do the

answer this question. You probably do, but do you have any insight on

how this business got funded? It
started just out of the savings of Sarah

and Loretta had from their day jobs. For most of the time that,

like you, as existed, Sarah
and read had had full time jobs in

marketing and they initially put their savings
into it because it was a passion.

Like for a lot of folks,
was a passion to start a business and

really is just building it up and
bootstrapping it, so to speak. I

ran into a parallel recently. So
land a lounge is the first black queer

owned lounge in Harlem. Land The
lounge it opened up in two thousand and

nineteen and it had been about three, is four years of land of vodka.

You know the owners, they created
the same thing. They have full

time jobs. They created their vodka
brand. It actually wasn't doing that great

and so they said they felt like
they needed to open up the space in

order to really to be successful at
creating a business by and for Black Queer

folks in Harlem. So you know, these like beer folks. They're they're

not that far behind. That's their
dream to open a space. Yeah,

exactly, they're all they want to
open up the space eventually. You know,

that's also what they're what they're setting
aside, wanting to do to open

up space eventually. Can this labor
of love prevent lesbian bars from going extinct?

Here is the statistic you need to
know. In nineteen eighty there were

two hundred lesbian bars across the United
States. Today there are twenty one.

What's happening? What can be done? After the break we will talk to

Sarah Hollandquist, the CO founder of
Dike Beer and the head of recipes.

Welcome back to next city on the
show. This week we are talking to

Sarah Hollandquist, the CO founder and
head of recipes at Dyke Beer, a

lesbian owned beer company. Dyke Beers
mission goes beyond just creating delicious beers.

Sarah and her business partner, Loretta, are hoping to preserve space for lesbian

women. There is a disappearance of
gathering places and lesbian bars. What has

been happening, I get my understanding
is that nineteen eighty they were two hundred

lesbian bars across the US and now, as you mentioned, there's twenty one,

and that was basically a count done
before the pandemic. I would hate

to go count now. I'm a
little worried. We did do research and

we do this lost dike are walking
tour in the West village showing the places

that used to be our our spaces
that now are either dog day care centers

or starbucks coffees. The whole thing
is a pretty, pretty tragic when you're

walking through. But one big one
is simply gentification. If we're talking about

the castor in San Francisco. We're
talking about the West village in New York.

These are extremely expensive, the neighborhoods
where some of the bars simply just

could not afford rent anymore and they
didn't want to raise prices. They were

places selling two dollar PBR bears and
they didn't want to become twenty five cocktail

bars. And so that was one
reason, just simply gentrification, that we

were gentified out. Another reason is
that when online dating became something popular,

this one's on us, that a
lot of people who are in the suburbs

or in the country no longer had
to drive to the city, they no

longer had to get parking, they
no longer had to get the day off.

They could possibly find somebody even in
their own town or a town away,

and so then if these folks are
not coming out to gay bars,

lesbian bars, etc. That money
is missing. And so that was a

huge population that didn't come into the
bars. Or if you were simply introverted

and you didn't want to go out, there was another group of folks in

the city even who then weren't attending
these bars. And the third reason was,

this is very specific to lesbian or
dyke bars, there were these parties

in the s that were really popular. They would be a house party,

it would be cheaper because you would
bring your own bottle of wine or six

pack. You would have to get
in, usually through some sort of code

or knowing somebody, and the bars
were really seen as, quote unquote,

old lady bars because they are multigenerational. There are so few of these spaces

that, yes, you have a
woman in their s eight s sometimes playing

at the pool table, and I
think our generation of millennials and Gen z

love this and like we want to
see like all sorts of generations, we

want to talk to them and we
respect our queer elders, but I don't

know, jen x, really drop
the ball, you guys. And so

this is what suddenly, one thousand
nine hundred and eighty, a lot fell

off because if you then have online
dating, where people from the country and

the suburbs aren't going, and then
you have actually the people in the city

or extroverted people that aren't going,
well, who's going? So we really

lost a lot of people who were
customers and paying for these spaces, and

it's you know, these are capitalistic
ventures. They need to pay taxes,

they need to pay their landlord rent, they need to pay for the beer,

they need to pay for their staff. So yeah, I mean the

whole thing collapsed. But I think
now we really care about space and,

especially in a post covid world,
we realize how important it is to get

together, like how important friendships are, relationships, seeing each other in person

is. So I think we have
a different idea of all my goodness,

we need this brick and mortar space
and we need to get together for real

in person. I want to get
to talking about the beer, but first

I want to sort of also underscore
the importance of gathering spaces for Queer women.

What is the short hit? You
know, this came up during after,

tragically, the pulse massacre and Orlando, that people had to be explained

to the importance of bars in a
queer space. What is the importance of

having a lesbian bar? It's not
just Oh, I need some place to

go dance. Absolutely one huge one
was political activism. A lot of the

die, March, the do,
any any sort of like queer movement.

You can think of Lesbian Movement,
you can think of probably originated in a

lesbian bar because it was safe for
people to organize and find one another and

order us for us to achieve various
activist ideologies, and so, you know,

this is how we were able to
get together and fight for our rights,

whether there for marriage, you know, Trans Gender Bathroom Rights, with

whatever it is. A lot of
these spaces are used as activist political places

that are safe for us to talk
and have these conversations, where they may

not be under a straight eye or
straight ear, it depending on who's in

the straight bar. Another reason I
usually explain to folks because they feel like

their local watering hole is so queer
friendly. How come you need this space?

Well, one basic reason is romance. I think it's really hard if

you're you're assist gender woman and you
see who you assume as another sister gender

woman in a straight bar, are
you going to go up to that woman

and hit on her, or are
you going to assume that woman is straight?

So how can you find romance in
a straight bar when it could be

so dangerous or somebody could be offended
or there could be all these problems?

It's not a safe space to actually, you know, flirt or give somebody

your number, you know on anybody, and that's actually like a really important

connection people want, and that is, I believe, a design of the

bar is also to have romantic interests. You know, they're adult spaces partially

for that. And then the other
reason, I would say, is just

queer friendships. It's a different conversation. We have different healthcare, we have

different human rights, we have to
worry about different ways we raise our family.

Sometimes different ways that like are our
biological families react to US versus what

we would call our queer family,
are chosen family, and so sometimes we

find those chosen families in these spaces
because we're there all queer people. Were

all lesbians, Wald Dykes, whatever. We're all in there together, and

so it's important for us to create
this community. You know, we talked

about cultural preservation a lot at next
city and maybe that's why we got into

reporting this story about dike beer.
He said, safe to say for people

this is a straight audience predominantly,
but is it safe to save with people

that there is such a thing as
lesbian culture and this is a form of

cultural preservation? Yes, lesbians do
exist. There's a lack of lesbian visibility,

there's a lack of under the umbrella
dike, we have queer women by

women, Pan Women. We have
non binary folks who identify as dikes.

We have even trans men who identify
as dikes, and certainly trains women.

So it's an umbrella term we've really
taken back and we know, hurled from

the wrong mouth, that this is
a slur. However, Loretta Cheung and

I Sarah Holoquist, the founders of
dike beer, identify as dikes. We

started dike bar takeover before we did
dike beer. That was a party for

this community. So yeah, you
can say the word dike and dike beer

and you know we're really taking it
back, just like we took back the

word queer. That used to be
bad. HMM. And you know,

there's still people who are upset when
you use the word Queer and LGBT media

where I used to work, and
they would say, and all this was

used against me for years, how
could use it now? But people are

reclaiming different words and this is one
of the but you so I know when

you've tried to introduce the product you've
had people say am I allowed, as

even the bartender to say, here's
your dike beer. What do you tell

them? Yes, we actually give
a small zine or a little bit older.

So these are paper, handmade,
photocopied informational packets that on one side

and has the last remaining dike or
lesbian bars. There's only about twenty one

of them. So letting people know
that this is a serious issue, that

we have a lack of space,
that there's a lot of space for the

capital G, Gay man, SIS, Gay man, but there isn't a

lot for queer women. And so
part of our campaign is the lack of

bars, the lack of space and
also just the lack of visibility in general.

We don't have a ton of movies, we don't have a ton of

books, we don't have a ton
of art. It's almost like we're experiencing

of an invisible, sort of strange
movement. But we do exist, we're

out here, we're coupled up,
we live our lives. Can you share

a little bit of the history where
just the word come from? The history

comes from it was once used by
a psychologist who describe somebody as a bull

dagger and then it later got transferred
as a bull dyke, and this was

a study on female prisoners in the
eighteen hundreds even, and so this word

is just changed and crossed around.
And so for a while the slur specifically

referred to butch, Masculine Presenting Trans
men, folks who were appearing in this

a dike way of a description based
off this strange psychological paper. So I

think it's this idea of not following
your gender identity in the straight mainstream way

they want you to. So if
you're a little bit out there, you

have a shaved head, you dress
in men's clothing, you're a little bit

bigger, whatever it might be,
the word dike has been used to describe

a certain type of butch woman,
and so we were claiming that and saying,

Hey, it's not bad to be
dykey, it's not bad to be

butch, it's not bad to be
masculine. You know it. Just present

yourself as your gender and you know, if you're nonbinary, transgender, you're

still figuring out on the gender variant, you know, it's all okay.

So we're kind of reclaiming that word
from that that strange history. The creators

of dike beer are reclaiming words and
spaces. After the break we will talk

about how what Loretta and Sarah are
doing is making a big difference. Welcome

back to next city on the show
today dike beer, a lesbian woman owned

beer company, and how they are
hoping to prevent lesbian bars from going extinct.

It was in a queer space that
the founders of Dike Beer, Sarah

and Loretta, were able to meet. Amazing things happen when you bring together

lgbtq folks to talk. There were
different activists who started it, but later

on Loretta and I became organizers,
and so when we became organizers we were

basically in charge of these parties.
We would have artists who were queer in

a lot of them weren't hired by
straight bars. These were drag kings,

these were lesbian bands, these were
transgender performers, these were certain performers that

just weren't getting booked, and so
we wanted to support our local queer community

artists. And then we would have
a ten dollar cover and if you can

pay you could get right in.
So we wanted it to be kind of

on the cheaper side so everybody could
have access, and then we would donate

any extra money to a queer charity. So would be sage or the LGBT

center, and so really was all
volunteer, all activism. We're very much

part of the dike March and coming
out and showing our face anytime there was

a protest at stonewall. So we
were just really, really activists and trying

to support artists and trying to support
the community in this way. And so

that's the roots of really dike beer. Sure it's like Whit in a can,

sure it is beer, but at
the same time it is still this

campaign for human rights, for visibility
and for space as well. I'm know

that I'm talking to the person who's
in charge at the recipes for so I

feel like I can safely ask you
to describe to me what this beer taste

like. Our some of them taste
like, and you're also talking to someone

who, I have to confess,
I don't drink beer, so I don't

know that I even fully understand.
So explain to me. How. What

does it taste like? How is
it sure? So we have four different

flavors. Our main one is the
Sayson, and so a Sayson is a

traditional Belgian Golden Ale. It has
a certain quality in the use which my

sound Funky, but like it has
different flavors of a sort of a black

pepper, sort of lemons or bubble
gum. That changes throughout time, but

it's a really lovely beer. It's
really crushable, easy drinking in the summer.

It's just like a nice golden beer
that you're like yes, I want

this, it's called me off.
I feel good. The labels funny.

Right now we have our collaboration with
green point, a beer called tall girl

because these sixteen ounce cans are called
tall boys and we thought that hilariously gendered.

And so this is a Goza,
which is a traditional German beer.

It has salt in it, Himalayan
pink salt. It has a little bit

of a sour edge and it has
lincolberry, hibiscus and raspberry in it.

So it's hot pink. And so
we're thinking about drag Queens fems. We

were thinking about like actually like turning
the head of this like Macho, like

beer industry and making this like hot
pink beer for pride. And so we're

really happy with what green point put
out with us and it's really been a

fun collab. And then we have
an October fest, which please that's a

marsinlager with spices, all the nutmeg
cinnamon, all the things that you would

expect out of an October fest,
a little bit of Pumpkin and then we

have a Australians rocking sparkling ale called
going down under that we sold out of,

and that was a highly carbonated beverage, because everybody's drink in this white

cloths to everybody wants that. Yeah, yeah, it's the taste of hyper

carbonation. So if you love so
much carbonation, this is the most carbonated

beer you can get. And then
we put a little bit of a juniper

ginger, like just some botanicals in
it as a balance of flavor. But

it's really crushable. They're just in
twelve ounce cans and they went really,

really fast. And right now we're
working on a Che Cha. That's an

unusual beer. My business partner is
Peruvian and so it's going to be called

Latin X and it's traditionally an indigenous
made beer. It's a purple corn and

do you have to really like crush
it up and in traditionally you're supposed to

actually chew it and spit it to
create the enzymes, but we have machines

that can kind of like do this
for us. Maybe that's so not a

lot are made because it's a very
intensive but we like making new beers that

are a little bit different. We
don't want to just make like the millions

paleal and we don't even have an
IPA right now, which is seventy two

percent of the market. We really
are trying to be more creative in the

flavors and really create a quality new
product for our community and a lot of

people who might even be new to
craft beer in general. Is it all

coming together the way that you wanted
it to? Do you feel like it's

everything you imagined in what's next?
It's really fast. I mean we started

this business two years ago and we
cannot believe the you know, we're just

thrilled that people really like the product
and that people like us and they want

to come out to our events and
it's been really, really wonderful to have

the community open arms to us.
We're really excited about it and we even

had a lot of straight people say
that they really like the product as well

and they have it in their house, and you know that's going to hear

that it's not just, you know, our community that can enjoy this as

well. This business basically started.
I think because we were already in bars

with dike bar takeover that making a
beer seemed like a funny choice. The

name seemed funny. It seemed like
we would reach more people, even straight

people, with this campaign on a
can, and I think we have.

We have many more followers on social
media than we did for the dike bar

takeover account. We have much more
articles and podcasts than we ever did for

Diyke bar takeover. Really through the
business we've been able to do more activism,

which is Hilarious, than letting people
mail that we were losing space and

that we need visibility, and it's
been a really interesting ride for that reason.

So we're business owners, but we're
like cool queer business owners, as

a woman and non binary person kind
of doing this business. So it probably

the next step after this would be
to make some sort of brick and mortar.

We are trying to get through pride
right now where we are just,

you know, shipping the cans for
now, but it would be ideal to

create another dyke bar, lesbian bar
that could be a tap room brewery sort

of concept. We would still have
to look for real estate, Ne Work

and that sort of thing. But
yeah, that would be the next step,

is to have that physical location be
here to queer be able to maybe

Brew More Beers. I take forever
with the recipes. I mean we only

brew like three or four Beers a
year, where some boweries really crank out

for to to sixty. So it's
the Labor of love right now and maybe

if we had our own facility we
could we could make more different kinds or

we could have, you know,
more events and we could have really another

safe space for our community as well. Dyke beer is more than just two

beer company. Businesses are sometimes a
form of cultural preservation. I asked our

senior economics correspondent, Oscar Perry,
a bellow, the ways a business can

safeguard the culture of its community.
Oh Yeah, so business is at a

court connovation. I mean this is
something that you here said often in city

council meeting means or community meetings,
neighborhood community organizing meetings, there's a sentiment

and it's and there's it's a lot
of truth to the sentiment that small businesses,

local businesses, are the cultural fabric
or community right like like they you

can tell who the communities for by
looking at the small business that are there

and and who and who they who
they're generally associated with? Is it a

bunch of wood Bodega's and barber shops, or is it a bunch of boutique

salons and and wine bars? Those
things, they can be in the same

neighborhood, but when you start to
see the Bordega is replaced with the wine

bars, you know it's one of
the indicators that that displacement, of gentrification,

it's happening. It's almost a lagging
indicator. It's almost too late whence

that starts to happen. So so
the idea of a business being a cultural

place holder, place keeper, is
an important one, you know, for

these historically marginalized groups, whether they're
in queer spaces or black of Brown or

Asian spaces. I mean one of
the things about the small businesses they celebrate

is, you know, the businesses
also recirculate money in those communities right,

recirculate wealth in this communities. You
know, they think about a China fowl

and you think about the businesses in
Chinatown that are that provide jobs and create

wealth for those communities and that turns
into mortgages for families have in other parts

of the city and you know,
you actually have local ownership of property still

in Chinatown. It's one of those
places that you still have a lot of

family owners, family association owners in
Chinatown, and the culture still very strong

that you can walk out in Columbus
Park in Manhattans Chinatown and every day there

are still lots of older folks and
the younger folks who claim that space is

there's and feel comfortable there. And
the businesses are a part of that right.

It's part of the money and the
ability to bring in resources into those

faces. We hope you enjoyed this
episode of next city, a show about

change makers and their stories. Together
we can spread good ideas from one city

to the next city. This episode
is made possible with support from city.

Thank you, city. Thank you
for listening this week. Thank you to

reporter Oscar peria bellow. Thank you
to our guests Sarah Holland quizt from dike

beer. Our audio producer is Savana
Alcala, our scriptwriter is Francesca Mamlin,

our executive producers are Tyler Nielsen and
Ryan Tillotson, and I'm Lucas grinlely,

the executive director of next city.
By the way, next city is a

news organization with a nonprofit model.
If you like what we're doing here,

please consider pitching in to support our
work. visit next city dot org slash

membership to make a donation. We
would love to hear any feedback from our

listeners. Please feel free to email
us at Info at next city dot Org

and, if you haven't already,
subscribe to the show on Apple, spotify,

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Next City
Join Lucas Grindley, executive director at Next City, where we believe journalists have the power to amplify solutions and spread workable ideas. Each week Lucas will... View More

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