By Angela Rose | Mar 20, 2023
An industrial engineer by degree, Greenwood worked for manufacturers for almost 10 years before she started Greenwood Brewing out of her garage in 2017. "Beer has been my alcoholic beverage of choice since I was old enough to drink it," she says, "but I didn't feel seen in the industry as a consumer, and I wondered if other people felt that way."
An informal survey of other women confirmed her suspicion, so she built a microbrewery in her garage and began brewing and giving beer away for free. This soon blossomed into manufacturing her own beer at a local brewery on the weekends and then selling and distributing it to Arizona restaurants and bars -- all while keeping her day job.
"By the time we opened our taproom, I was in almost 100 bars and restaurants," Greenwood says. "And because I was brewing and distributing on weekends throughout the Valley, a bank saw me as an expansion. I was able to get a loan [to build our brewery and taproom] because we were technically expanding our business."
Greenwood started construction on her location in Downtown Phoenix in 2018. It's a space right out of a Crate and Barrel catalog, replete with large globe lights, a big marble backsplash, beautiful wood, and lots of mirrors. Her plan was to open the doors in March of 2020. "As you can imagine, that was not a great time to be opening a business," she says. "We ended up having to stay closed until July 2020. But we're now in more than 200 restaurants, bars, grocery stores, and retail throughout Arizona."
Greenwood and her team have produced almost 30 different styles of beer on their 10-barrel Deutsche Beverage Technology brewhouse. The brewery's best seller is its Rosemary IPA, which is dry hopped with fresh Arizona-grown rosemary. Other core beers include Purpose Pilsner and Herstory Pale Ale. "Herstory is the only beer I made for two-and-a-half years while I was building Greenwood," she says. "The fourth core beer is Emera IPA. It's light, low ABV, and low calorie. But it's still a really juicy, fruity, yummy beer."
Greenwood says new recipes are often inspired by what the team sees is lacking in the brewery's portfolio or the beer industry as a whole. The seasons also play a role. "We like to come out with fresh, juicy beers in the spring and summer," she adds. "Then, in the fall and winter, we like to make roasted, warm, delectable beers that are more spice and herbal."
A recent new release is La Jefaweizen, a crisp German-style wheat beer inspired by Women's History Month. "It's 'The Boss' in Spanish," Greenwood says. "We've been asked to make a hefeweizen forever, and our customers are really excited about it."
Challenges: "Our biggest challenge was opening in the middle of COVID," Greenwood says. "And because we opened in COVID, we didn't have the baseline for any of the grants or loans. Those were all based on your sales from the year before, and there wasn't a lot of support for people opening a business that year."
Opportunities: "I got into brewing because I wanted to be a production brewery," Greenwood says. "I wanted people to be able to drink our beer while they're sitting by the pool, or while they're on the golf course or on a hike, or while they're just hanging around their house. I want people to be drinking our products when they're not in our taproom and when they’re in our taproom. So, our biggest opportunity right now is growing into a production brewery where people have access to us at competitive price points and can buy our beer and have it in their fridge."
Greenwood Brewing produced 1,000 barrels in 2022, and a recent foray into production brewing and canning on another brewery's equipment should enable the company to manufacture 3,000 barrels this year.
Needs: Greenwood says market awareness is her brewery's biggest need, and her mission continues to be welcoming more women into the tribe of craft beer drinkers. "I think sometimes women see beer as intimidating because it has always been a man's drink,” she says. "But beer is a woman's drink, too. We want women to feel welcomed by this industry and to feel seen as consumers. And we're creating our beer with women in mind."