In 2012, San Francisco–based Caitlin Landesberg (left) discovered she was gluten-intolerant. Forced to change her diet, she didn’t miss cupcakes or pasta most. What she found herself craving was the crisp reward of a cold beer after a race or long run. “Drinking gluten-free beer just didn’t taste good, and I always felt singled out,” she explains.
This conundrum motivated Landesberg’s then-fiancé to sign her up for a beer-making class for her birthday—and the rest is hoppy history. The runner became more skilled at the art of gluten removal, and she brewed a big batch of pilsner for her wedding last October. The brew was such a hit with guests, she knew it was time to double down and start the Sufferfest business.
She quit her job, enlisted a co-founder (and fellow runner), Alyssa Berman-Waugh, and together the two launched Sufferfest Beer Company by the end of 2015. Landesberg says the name comes from the reason she “loves running so much…it isn’t about getting on the podium or setting a new record, it’s about finishing.” She adds, “There is an everlasting bond that’s developed over the ritual of sharing and comparing your accomplishment over a great-tasting, post-run beer. We earned it. Together!”
Taper IPA and Epic Pilsner are available in retail stores in California, and the company ships to 34 states through craftcity.com. What’s the next step for these two women shaking up the beverage industry? Landesberg says, “Ultimately, we want to be at every finish line. As competitors, we’re constantly pushing our business and product to become the best tasting, best-for-you, premier option for people who’ve earned a cold one!”