5 things we learnt from interviewing these women in the local beer industry
We’ve come to the end of 2019 and our Women in Beer series. Before we get to a little summary of the feedback, I’d like to thank Lucy Corne, Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela, Philippa Wood and Rochelle Dunlop for taking part and for shedding some light on the current state of the craft nation. I was pleasantly surprised and while the industry does have some challenges, it seems to be in a healthy place from a woman’s perspective. Let’s take a closer look and see what we learnt.
Get stuck in today
If you’re a woman and you’re thinking about getting into the beer industry then there’s never been a better time. The way has been pioneered by the likes of Lucy, Apiwe, Philippa, Rochelle and many more, and the feeling across the panel is that the industry is very welcoming and helpful.
You can be the change
Since the early days of craft, women have typically found themselves on the marketing and sales side of beer. Luckily this is changing to the brewing side, albeit slowly. Apiwe is leading the charge in Jozi with her company, Brewsters Craft. Meanwhile, down in Cape Town, Rochelle just won Best Beer of the Year at the National Beer Trophy. Make no mistake, brewing is a tough job, but if you’ve got the passion to learn and the work ethic to see it through, then why not give it a go?
We need more diversity
This was the one answer that was consistent across the board. Yes, craft beer is an industry dominated by white men, but it is fairly understandable considering they’re mostly responsible for growing it from a garage hobby to a fully-fledged industry. Apart from that, I think there are many factors that play into the slow growth of diversity, with education and price point being big ones. Before I fell in love with craft beer or understood it, I complained endlessly about the cost of the stuff, and for many it really is an instant turn-off. Unlike wine, whisky or brandy, beer seems to be the only drink in this country where consumers expect to pay less no matter how it was made.
Overseas narratives don’t always apply
Beer has long been a male-dominated industry but it seems that we have managed, for the most part, to avoid the issues of sexism and objectification that women in America face in the beer industry. There have been a few cases over the years, but they were quickly shut down when the community pulled together. The biggest issue across the board seemed to be at festivals, where it is often assumed that the women serving the beer know nothing about it. Again, I think this comes down to education and hopefully, over time, this will correct itself.
The panel had this to say to any ladies looking to jump into the beer world: Just go for it. Don’t get bogged down by the fact that there are more men than women in the industry. Educate yourself, be willing to work hard and with passion, and you will succeed. It’s a great industry to be involved with and it will challenge you every day.