November 21, 2019

Feature: Lisa McDonald of Sanctuary Brewing Company

Lisa Marie McDonald, Photo: Sanctuary Brewing Company

This month we are excited to share an interview with Lisa Marie McDonald of Sanctuary Brewing Company. Lisa and her partner Joe Dinan started Sanctuary Brewing Company in Hendersonville, NC in 2015. Sanctuary Brewing Company is a one-of-a-kind, award-winning vegan microbrewery dedicated to good times, good deeds, and amazing beer. Through their work, McDonald is showing the world that philanthropy and profit can go hand-in-hand. Due to her success with SBC, Lisa was elected to the board of the prestigious North Carolina Craft Brewer’s Guild (NCCBG), founders of the North Carolina Craft Brewer’s Conference.

Lisa Marie McDonald, Photo: Sanctuary Brewing Company

Sanctuary Brewing Company is a brewery dedicated to human and animal advocacy in Hendersonville, NC.  Please tell us more!  What inspired its establishment?

Lisa: In early 2015 I was a corporate consultant, and my partner was brewing for a brewery called Wicked Weed. We were fostering animals whenever we could, and we were already rescuing dogs and cats and chickens. We were talking one day, and I said something like “wouldn’t it be great to open our own brewer, then makes some money and use it to open an animal sanctuary”, and in that moment, the idea of opening a brewery dedicated to animal advocacy was born. We filed the tradmark the next day and opened our doors in August of that same year. Since then we have become a community center that advocates for all living beings, humans and non-humans alike.

Photo: Sanctuary Brewing Company


“Sanctuary Brewing Company, a one-of-a-kind, award-winning vegan microbrewery dedicated to good times, good deeds, and amazing beer.” 

Photo: Sanctuary Brewing Company


Just hearing the words “vegan” and “microbrewery” in the same sentence are so exciting!  As I understand, more and more beer manufacturers are going vegan- sometimes intentionally as an ethical stance and sometimes unintentionally in just changing their production techniques. What changes are you and your partner perceiving in the landscape of beer production (related to this) but also in consumer awareness?

Lisa: I think as veganism becomes more wildly commonplace, so do all industries that have traditionally used animal products like isinglass (a clarifying agent used in beer that is derived from fish bladders). For me it’s just been so awesome to see the tide of breweries and other business taking a more formal approach on phasing out animal products!

Lisa & Joe with vegan strongman Patrik Baboumian, Photo: Sanctuary Brewing Company

What is the energy like at the brewery and what has the response of patrons been? I imagine it is a much beloved local spot!

Lisa: We actually were just named the best bar in our town by a major newspaper poll, and we were named small business leader of the year in 2018 by our Chamber of Commerce! 

We think our business has really transformed into something of a community center. We hold monthly events called Help4Hendo where we provide free haircuts, clothing, toiletries, food, etc, and we have a kindness wall outside of the brewery where people can leave clothing, non-perishable food, etc for those in need, who can take whatever is provided, no questions asked. I think it’s events like these coupled with the friendly, laid back atmosphere that we proved that have endeared Sanctuary Brewing to our locals and tourists alike.

Photo: Sanctuary Brewing Company

You have events all the time – entertainment 7 nights a week!  Please share more about this lively aspect of Sanctuary Brewing.

Lisa: We are located in the mountains of North Carolina, and the music scene here is pretty spectacular, which gives us an incredible pool of talent to come in and entertain. We also do fun things like painting classes, open mic nights, team trivia, documentary screenings, and on and on.

Photo: Sanctuary Brewing Company

Sanctuary Brewing has amassed an impressive list of awards and accolades too. Can you share more about this?

Lisa: Our beer has won several awards, specifically gold, silver and bronze in our state’s annual competitions.  This year we’re entering into a few worldwide competitions, fingers crossed!

Photo: Sanctuary Brewing Company

Visit Sanctuary Brewing Company at http://www.sanctuarybrewco.com/

Feature & Interview by Annika Lundkvist at Pacific Roots Magazine Editorial Desk

Editor’s Note

Welcome! Launched in Summer 2019, Pacific Roots Magazine is a platform devoted to global issues of animal advocacy, animal sanctuaries, environment, green city initiatives, veganic agriculture, sustainability, plant based food & more. We welcome you along for the journey as we explore, learn & develop further awareness about this home we call Earth.