Part eight in a series on the women who have risen to the top of Nevada’s burgeoning brewery industry
Humans have been drinking beer or similar drinks for several thousand years, but many do not realize early brewers were mainly women, making beer as one of their normal household tasks. However, by the 18th century the brewing gradually became a man’s job and women were relegated to roles as barmaids, pub operators, bottlers or secretaries for breweries.
Over time beer also came to be viewed as a man’s drink. Now with the craft beer renaissance and the realization and acceptance that beer can be enjoyed by all, more and more women choose beer as their drink of choice. They are also entering the beer business as brewers and brewery owner/operators.
In this series we delve into the backgrounds of several women—co-owner/operators, brewers and operations managers. These accomplished women are leaving their mark on the beer industry in Southern Nevada in occupations integral to the brewing business. Read on to discover the paths that led them to this field and the quite significant contributions they have made and continue to make.
Linda Lovelady—The Woman Behind a Family-Owned Brewery
Growing up in Oakland, California, Linda Lovelady initially set her sights on working in the field of exercise physiology/physical education. Little did she know that her career path would eventually lead to running a family business with the purpose of making beer: Lovelady Brewing Company.
Introduction to Craft Beer
Linda didn’t grow up with the mass-produced macro brewery beers that dominate the market today. Instead, her father always had what she describes as “good beer,” including West Coast craft beer forerunners Anchor and Henry Weinhard.
It was while attending college that her beer education would expand, after meeting her future husband, Richard Lovelady. They would marry in 1994 and Richard became one of the first brewers for Gordon Biersch in nearby San Mateo. When Gordon Biersch was opening a location in Las Vegas in 1997, Richard accepted the job as the first head brewer, in part because he had family in Henderson, so the couple and young son headed east to Southern Nevada.
A True Family Brewery Is Born
After working for two decades for Gordon Biersch, Richard, with the blessing of his wife Linda, decided to take a big jump and open his own brewery. Actually, it was more than just her approval. Linda shares that she told him: “Either we’re moving back to the Bay Area, or you’re opening your brewery here.” He decided to open the brewery here because it was cheaper than moving back to the Bay Area.
Except it wouldn’t be his brewery alone, but rather a joint enterprise with his three brothers: Jeff, Jerry and his twin brother Robert. Lovelady Brewing opened in 2016 at 20 S. Water Street in “Old Henderson.” The location was fitting, as the Lovelady family had roots in the community dating back to the 1950s. Each brother would have a role in running the brewery, and Linda would, and continues to, shine through completing myriad tasks as Operations Manager that are indispensable to the running of the small business.
The Work of Operations Manager
In addition to her degree from UC Davis in Exercise Physiology, Linda later earned an associate’s degree in Accounting from the Community College of Southern Nevada (now called CSN). She took courses in accounting through UC Berkeley and UCLA, was Chief Financial Officer of the Boys and Girls Club of Henderson and worked in accounting for a multinational private company.
All of these experiences greatly prepared her for her current role as Lovelady Brewing Operations Manager. She is self-described as the “Wizard of Oz,” as she is the one behind the scenes conjuring up ways to get things done. Her tasks include: handling banking, accounting, invoices, payroll, quarterly payroll tax reporting, being the liaison to the City of Henderson, ordering merchandise for the taprooms, occasionally filling in as a beertender and helping Richard with canning.
Linda’s contributions definitely do not go unnoticed by those who benefit from her hard work.
“Linda is our indispensable employee who does a little of everything and does it well,” says husband Richard. “She has brewed, canned, beertended and is our accountant, HR person, payroll person, city contact and I’m sure a few other things I can’t remember as well. I can’t imagine ever getting started and running as smoothly as we do without her efforts. She’s the best!”
Rewards and Challenges of the Job
Linda attests the best part of her job is working with husband and 26-year-old son Max, who assists his father with the brewing duties. She also enjoys accounting and the challenge of figuring out logistics like dealing with the city to gain approval for enhancements such as expanding an outdoor patio, although it can be frustrating at times.
What Linda finds most challenging is separating business decisions from personal feelings. Fortunately, she’s always felt accepted by others in the local beer industry, but from time to time she’s experienced reps and vendors from outside companies directing their conversations to a man in the room rather than her.
Favorite Beer Styles
It’s probably not a coincidence, but some of Linda’s favorite beer styles are well represented by brews made by the family brewery. As she is partial to Reds, Maibock, Rye Ale and IPA, there are always at least a handful of beers pouring to fit her preference. All-the-time signature brews she prefers include: Lovelady Love Triangle (Red Lager), Hopotomic (Double IPA) and State of Change (West Coast IPA). The brewery also makes seasonal representations of Maibock and Rye Ale throughout the year.
Contributions to the Brewing Industry and Helping Women Find Opportunities
One way Linda is contributing to the Nevada brewing industry is her current position as the Legislative Chair for the Nevada Craft Brewers Association (NCBA), which she began in 2021. The organization, of which nearly all of the Silver State’s breweries are members, has set goals to advance the state of craft beer in Nevada. Since taking on the position, Linda has secured a pro bono attorney, who then hired a lobbyist, both of whom are women, to represent the NCBA at the next legislative session. They are currently working on a bill that will make changes favorable to the industry, but are not ready to publicly share its details.
Linda pointed out that as the current NCBA President Wyndee Forrest, the entire legislative team and the legislature representative sponsoring the bill are all women, “If we get our bill passed, we can definitely say women are making a difference in the brewing industry.”
About five years ago, after noticing that Nevada was the only state not represented, Linda and Amanda Koeller (Bad Beat Brewing Head Brewer) founded the Nevada chapter of the Pink Boots Society. The organization is comprised of women working in any facet of the brewing business, and through meetings and networking members learn of opportunities for positions in the brewing industry.
Future of Women in Brewing and Lovelady Brewing
As for encouraging more women to enter the brewing industry, Linda says, “Unless you see it you don’t know that being in the beer industry is even something for women. I think pieces [articles] like this that focus on women in the industry and what’s out there is going to help, and as more breweries open, more opportunities will open up.”
Regarding Lovelady Brewing, in one way the future of the family brewery is now. In August, 2022 a second taproom opened in the Pebble Marketplace at 1550 N. Green Valley Pkwy. It also continues to expand by landing more outside accounts, and it’s now quite easy to find their brews in restaurants and stores throughout Southern Nevada.
When asked whether more Lovelady locations will pop up, Linda says, “I never say never, but we’re still recovering from opening this [new taproom].”