LeAnn Darland and Tara Hankinson, the co-founders of Talea Beer Co, famous for its unique vision and easy-to-drink beers, always knew that they’d want to open a taproom. The two met while working at Hopsy, a beer start-up, and were both home brewers before founding Talea in 2018. Hankinson spent time working for Wolffer Estate Vineyard earlier in her career, and Darland served in the Navy.
Talea’s taproom – a bright and airy space, with huge windows, a private event space, 30 taps, and a large brewing room opened last month in Williamsburg, joining Brooklyn Brewery, Grimm Artisanal Ales, Interboro, and Other Half, all with locations in the neighborhood.
“We took a lot of inspiration from wineries. We wanted the space to be light, bright, airy, inviting,” Darland said. “We wanted a place where non-beer drinkers and just everyday people walking by in the neighborhood would want to come in and stop for a coffee or a glass of wine or try our beers.”
Intention surrounds most of what Talea does.
The spot is just steps away from McCarren Park and boasts both indoor and outdoor seating, including a back garden that is still in progress. When you first walk in, you’re greeted with the retail shop and a coffee bar, an intentional choice. The pair wanted to make sure that the neighborhood would always be able to stop by for some quick cans, no matter how busy the taproom was for dine-in customers that day.
At Talea, there are currently ten beers available on tap, including options for tasting flights. Their flagship beer, Sun Up, is equally as bright as the name suggests, and fits perfectly with the new taproom’s light-filled interior. A hazy IPA with pineapple and mango notes, it’s easy to drink and clocks in at 6.5% ABV, meaning two (or three) glasses is just right. Their Mixed Berry Art Deco, a sour IPA, is equally as sunny, brewed with raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, and milk sugar. Think: smoothie. For those interested in a more complex flavor, the Leaps & Bounds provides. It’s a hazy double IPA at 8%, with flavors of lime and papaya, both complex and understandable at the same time.
For those less interested in plain beer, they’ve got beer cocktails on the menu. The new taproom also has wines available, almost all made by women or from female-owned wineries.
Darland and Hankinson’s inspiration from traditional wineries extends to plans to bring brewery tours and intentional tastings into the world of beer in a way they say they haven’t seen before.
Talea is New York City’s first all women-owned beer brewer, and inclusivity is incredibly important to them – of Talea’s 23 employees 18 are women.
“Most of [our employees] don’t actually have experience in brewing or in craft beer bar service as beertenders. That’s really important to us, because we think that to make beer more diverse and more inclusive to women or not just the stereotypical “beer guy” we need to create a pipeline of talent and grow talent from within, promote from within,” Hankinson said.
Both Darland and Hankinson went through pregnancies during the pandemic and opening of the taproom, which they say made them realize that good parental leave was important for them to be able to offer their employees.
While looking for funding for Talea early on, they encountered men who told them that women weren’t interested in beer— it had too many calories, or they didn’t want to wake up feeling bloated. Eventually, they raised over $2.1 million dollars from a variety of sources, including friends and angel investors.
“Now that we’re open, we’re proving them wrong,” Hankinson said.
The taproom is currently open from 8:00am-8:00pm Sunday-Wednesday, and 8:00am-10:00pm Thursday-Saturday. It’s located at 87 Richardson Street, between Leonard Street and Manhattan Avenue.