2/A Smooth Brew

Craft-beer entrepreneur Tara Hankinson ’09 taps into the female market
THE EPIPHANY CAME to Tara Hankinson ’09 at a restaurant in Sag Harbor, N.Y., while she sat staring at a list of bitter, high-alcohol beers that only appealed to dedicated beer drinkers.

“I had this realization that beer companies are selling to the same customer again and again,” Hankinson says. “They don’t articulate craft beer in a way that’s approachable for people who don’t typically drink it.”

So last year, she and her business partner, LeAnn Darland, launched a beer company that offers fruit-forward beers that are easy on the palate.

TALEA — a combination of Hankinson and Darland’s first names — caters to the fastest growing craft-beer demographic: women. As a lifestyle-focused brand, the company produces their “easy to love” beers in cans with colorful, stylish designs.

“I want a beer that I can bring to a girls’ night, to a baby shower or serve at a wedding,” Hankinson says. “We want the packaging of TALEA to fit seamlessly into women’s lifestyles.”

Unlike many craft-beer entrepreneurs, Hankinson — who majored in management at Bucknell — doesn’t have extensive brewing experience. Most of her knowledge was learned by making home brews in her tiny apartment. But in less than two years, she and her partner have launched nine different beers that are sold in Whole Foods supermarkets and at about 100 bars, restaurants and retailers.

Later this year, TALEA will open a production brewery and taproom in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, featuring guided tastings with curated cheese and charcuterie plates, replicating the winery experience.

“The course of my career has proven that there is space for creativity in this business,” Hankinson says. “I love that our beer company is expanding the market and crossing all of these boundaries.” — Brooke Thames

Tara Hankinson