“I want to contribute to creating awareness about the benefits of diversity in the brewing industry”

Historically, women have dominated the brewing industry and now they are back in the business. To celebrate international women’s day, we met up with Mariana Schneider, Production Manager at Empirical in Copenhagen, to talk about brewing and the advantages of being a woman in a male dominated industry.


Historically, women have dominated the brewing industry.  From the Vikings to the Egyptians, women brewed both for religious ceremonies and to make practical, calorie-rich drinks for the home. The 12th century German nun, Hildegard von Bingen is responsible for the earliest surviving writings of the use of hops in beer, and in the North American colonies women were for the first long period in charge of the brewing – just think about Susannah Ohland, who’s beer recipe became the basis for founding Canada’s oldest independent brewery, Moosehead Brewery. 

From the beginning of industrialization, women were removed from the brewing industry, but now women are back in the business. We met with Mariana Schneider, Production Manager at Empirical in Copenhagen to talk about brewing. And in an industry with very few female brewers, the conversation quickly touched upon, how it is being a minority in the industry?
Originally from Brazil, Mariana has worked as brewer at Brewski in Sweden and Amager Bryghus in Copenhagen, before taking up her current position as Production Manager at Empirical distillery. She also played a central part in the development of the BeerFoss™ FT Go, testing the new calibrations and giving advice on new features to improve the brewing process. 

How did you end up as a brewer?
It started as a hobby. When I lived in Brazil, the variety of beers were limited and being tired of drinking the usual beer, the only other beer you could get was homebrewed. So, I started brewing my own. I always thought “if guys can do this, so can I,” and gradually I started studying and improving my brewing techniques.

When moving to Scandinavia, I initially started as a communications manager at Brewski in Sweden, but I only accepted the job with the condition that they would train me as brewer at the same time. One thing led to the next and now I am following up with studying The Master Brewers Certificate Program at the UC Davis

You have been a big help in the development of the BeerFoss™ FT Go.  How did the collaboration come across? 
Being part of the BeerFoss™ project is definitely one of the coolest thing I have done in my career as a brewer. I learned so much about the brewing process and working together with the team at FOSS, testing the beer samples and seeing what truly happens with the beer throughout the brewing process. 

Speaking about equality, I really felt as an equal during the process. When sending in samples, I kept being notified and it kept me super engaged. There is so much potential in the BeerFoss™. It has become a big part of my life as a brewer and has empowered me in so many ways. From fermentation to measuring the final beer or even in the early part of the process where the BeerFoss™ has helped us cut the amount of malt used in the brewing process. I keep telling everybody about the benefits of using the BeerFoss™ 😊.
What is your biggest drive? 
I can honestly say that the call for equality has become my biggest drive. As a woman and of Latin American origin, I want to contribute to creating awareness about the benefits of diversity in the brewing industry. If everyone is just thinking the same, and nobody stands out, it will always just be a little group of same minded people making the decision without seeing the broader picture and that will slow down any type of development – be it in brewing or anywhere else in our society. We need to fight for having a more diversified management group not just in brewing, but everywhere in our society.

It is also important for me to be a source of inspiration for other women in the industry, so we can remind each other that we are not alone. In the current state, women have to fight 100 times as hard as men to end up in the same positions and if we don’t increase the dialog and the transparency in the industry, it will never get any better. I hope one day to see as many women as male in the brewing industry.

What are the advantages of being a woman in the brewing business?
I think the biggest advantage is the unity with other women. You find each other and create great connections. Women are great at sharing information with each other, we check in on each other and are not afraid of helping to investigate new brewing recipes or even job opportunities. My feeling is that men hold their cards a bit closer to themselves, but sharing information only helps making us all better brewers. 
Any advice to co-female brewers😊.   
Never be afraid to ask for help. Even with a busy work and family life, women will always find time to help each other when needed.

And never ignore signs of mental restrains. Burn-outs are so common especially with female brewers. We have a tendency of doing more than we can handle – maybe it comes from the pressure of society where we have to work twice as hard to show that we are as good as men. But we must slow down once in a while and be better at taking care of ourselves. 

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