Women brew up brewery success


Deb Loch (left) and Jill Pavlak.

The craft brewing industry isn’t just for bearded dudes in flannel shirts anymore, as these women are proving.

The brewing scene in Minnesota isn’t just dominated by men; it’s dominated by burly, bearded men with tattoos.

At least for now.

A growing number of women are getting into the craft-beer movement. This spring, Jill Pavlak and Deb Loch plan to open a brewery run and owned by women.

Their brewery, called Urban Growler, will include a taproom and restaurant. It’s part of a new wave of breweries opening in St. Paul following the easing of city restrictions.

Urban Growler Brewing Co. won’t just be owned by women; it also will be marketed to women as customers.

“But not to the exclusion of men,” Loch said. “The beer will be drinkable, but everyone will enjoy the beer. There will be things we will do that guys won’t even know the difference — like purse hooks, a vestibule so it’s not so cold, some short chairs and half pints. Men would never know the difference, but women will notice.”

Pavlak and Loch, who married in December, are by no means the first women to own a brewery or to brew beer in Minnesota.

In Minneapolis, Rachel Anderson is a co-owner at Indeed Brewing Co. and Amy Johnson is co-owner of Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub. Laura Mullen and Karen Tonnis are two of four co-owners of Bent Paddle Brewing in Duluth.

They were preceded by Jacquie Berglund, who founded Finnegans Inc. with restaurateur-turned-whiskey-importer Kieran Folliard in 2000. She remains CEO of the company, which brews beer at Summit Brewing Co.

Loch was a biomedical engineer at St. Jude Medical Inc. and Medtronic Inc. Then, she went to UC-Davis and got her master’s in brewing. She did an apprenticeship with Mark Stutrud, founder of Summit, and interned at Minocqua Brewing Co. of Wisconsin.

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