Jennifer Newman creates her own reality—and great beer
Writer and Photographer Amy Ellsworth
The craft beer industry may still be, by the numbers, a boys’ club… with only 3% of the breweries in the U.S.exclusively owned and managed by women. But for Jennifer Newman, co-founder of Young Lion Brewing, it’s been nothing short of remarkable in terms of the level of support and respect given to everyone, regardless of gender.
“Don’t underestimate the power of quality relationships, kindness and integrity in business,” she advises. “Inevitably, you will encounter people who are predisposed to assume you are not as strong because you’re a woman. To those people, be kind but always stand up, look them in the eye and never doubt yourself. They do not create your reality. You do.”
Sitting proudly at the Northside of Canandaigua Lake, Young Lion is the perfect gathering place. The modern tasting room offers a relaxed atmosphere with indoor and outdoor seating. Order a beer flight and marvel at the spectrum of colors from bright golden IPAs to the ruby pink of their Raspberry Gose. The second floor offers ample space for special events, including sweeping panoramic views of the lake, with sunsets to match what’s in your glass.
The 2-year-old brewery produces five year-round beers, along with a host of rotating seasonal and specialty offerings. For now, you’ll find Young Lion beer only in New York State. “We’re committed to going deep in our home market before we expand to other areas.” In addition to fine beer, the tasting room offers a rotating selection of New York State cider and wines, and they even serve as a pickup location for Good Food Collective, which offers year-round food shares from sustainable farmers in the area.
That commitment to the local community is a result of early inspiration by women in founding roles, including Mariah Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, DE, and Kim Jordan of NewBelgium Brewing in Fort Collins, CO. Both breweries were started in the early to mid-’90s, when it was rare to see women at the helm.
Newman saw in them a focus on collaboration, the employees and the creation of a supportive industry that is truly unique among manufacturers. Since then, the number of women-owned businesses has increased 114%—a growth rate more than 2.5 times the national average for all firms. Today, she still looks to those pioneering women as examples of leadership as they’ve grown their breweries to become national brands, and is grateful to feel that same supportive energy alive in the local beer scene here in New York.
Unlike the other male-dominated industries she’s worked in—finance, publishing and tech—she doesn’t feel limited in the beer business. “If anything, people want to promote me for it!,” she says on being in the minority. Initially shying away from the attention, Newman wanted the beer to stand on its own. But she realizes that putting herself out there helps normalize female faces in the industry.
Young Lion’s beer is distributed locally by Wright Beverage, led by third-generation owner Tessa Tobin, and Newman herself employs women at all levels of her staff, from the tasting room to marketing and sales. Her message to other women interested in craft beer: “While it’s still hard to find a seat in the board room, there’s always an open stool at the bar!”
24 Lakeshore Drive, Canandaigua, young lionbrewing.com, 585.412.6065[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m14!1m8!1m3!1d11695.424935668487!2d-77.269807!3d42.8758785!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x0%3A0x956e4a0ddb33852b!2sYoung%20Lion%20Brewing%20Company!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1577471182219!5m2!1sen!2sus&w=600&h=450]
Amy Ellsworth shares craft beer stories on Instagram as @theCraftBeerGirl
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2019 Women’s Issue of Edible Finger Lakes magazine.