10 women taking on the craft beer industry in SA

08th August 2017

In one of the largest demonstrations staged in South Africa’s history, 20 000 women of all races marched to Pretoria's Union Buildings on 9 August 1956, to present a petition against the carrying of passes by women. The women of South Africa sent a public message that they would not be intimidated and silenced by unjust laws. Today, South Africa remembers and celebrates this moment in history and acknowledges the strength and significance of women in our lives and country. Today, we recognise women for their achievements without national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political segregation.


Today we shine a spotlight on 10 women taking on the craft beer industry in SA and celebrate their inspirational contribution to the beer and brewing industry of South Africa. Below is our list of some of these inspiring women; be sure to look them up and follow them on social media. It’s women like these that make us proud:

Apiwe Nxusani-Mawela, brewmaster and part owner at Brewhogs

It is evident that today, it is the woman brewing beer who are bringing in the money; they’re in the process of reclaiming their traditional role of beer-makers. Apiwe says, “Back in the days, brewing was a female thing. Over time it became industrialized and became a male thing. But, in the African culture, beers are still made by women only. In South Africa, more and more females are becoming part of beer brewing. It does make you proud that you are taking the whole thing back to where it started”.

Hayley Slater, #SheLovesBeer

SheLovesBeer is a movement that was originally founded by Slater in 2016. The aim of the organisation is to “create partnerships that celebrate women and beer, showing them in a positive and uplifting way…” The aim is to create partnerships with brewers and showcase women who love beer in an authentic and positive way.

Veronica Pittendrigh, Food Technologist and Head Brewer at Woody's Family Grill

Having presented at this year’s Craft Brewers Powwow, 2017 she took beer to a new level of understanding, focussing on Microbiology, “an extremely diverse and rich field of study which I immediately enrolled for. I tailored my electives (in university) in a Biochemistry perspective and am extremely passionate about the Brewing Industry… currently I make my own home brews.”

Joyce Denson, Junior Brewer at Darling Brew

Joyce is a Zimbabwean born go-getter and mother of one, who has been living in Darling for five years. She was the head bartender at Darling Brew’s Tasteroom, but this year she took the leap and moved over to the brewery in the pursuit of learning all about the brewing process.

Elmien Gotsell, co-owner of Black Eagle Brewing Company

Elmien founded the brewery along side her partner, Hugo in 2014. Six months later, after simply finding inspiration in a pair of African Black Eagles that nested close to their home, their establishment developed into a fully-operational nano brewery in the heart of Langebaan.

“Our dream is to brew break-away brews that will leave a lasting impression of quality and class with every sip”.

Emma Emanuel, Hoghouse Brewing Company

Emma Emanuel, is from Kwazulu Natal and joined Hoghouse Brewing Company as an assistant Brewer. The brewery was built with environmentally considerate practices, re-purposing materials where possible, utilising a rainwater capture system for cleaning water and a heat exchange unit to reduce energy consumption for brewing and refrigeration.

Lucy Corne, Freelance Writer, Author and Traveler

Also known as The Brew Mistress, Lucy is a self-proclaimed South African expert on all aspects around Southern African travel and the craft beer industry. She has traveled extensively, tasting microbrews in North and South Korea, propping up bars across Canada and enjoying more than the occasional ale in her hometown in the UK. Since moving to South Africa, she has become an avid participant in the booming beer industry. Lucy is the author of SA's first dedicated beer book, African Brew, a qualified BJCP judge and an all-round hophead who can usually be found sniffing and sipping IPAs, all in the name of research.

Meghan McCulloch, Jack Black's Brewing Company

Meghan and her partner Ross, set out to change the craft beer landscape in Cape Town after experiencing the North American craft beer culture firsthand. They felt that South Africa had much to learn from the American beer Industry. Today, Jack Black’s is known as one of South Africa’s most popular craft beers, a journey that was achieved through the sheer, perseverance and passion of the team and during a time when the words “craft beer” were foreign to most people within South Africa. Now, the brewing company is independently owned and operated with a goal to brew some of the highest quality and best tasting beers in Africa.

Happy Sekanka, Oakes Brewhouse

Oakes Brewhouse is an all-female run brewery founded in October 2013, offering great tasting, home brewed, hand crafted beer. Sekanka, A black female in her early 30s, is head brewer here and manages the brewery. The team decided to go the all-female route after seeing a huge gap in the already flooded market of craft beer. “It’s a gamble that is slowly paying off, based on the booming daily sales and response from customers at the brewery.” She is currently beginning the process of passing on her brewing knowledge and skills on to two trainees currently employed at the brewery.

Philippa Wood, Co-owner of Darling Brew,

Her story started as a journey that envisaged a brewery which would not only become a business success but also a model of sustainability and supporting the local industry. As co-owner with her husband, Kevin, she says together they’re constantly discovering the exciting and dynamic industry. “What most excites me about beer and the brewing industry is that it’s always extremely stimulating and there’s always so much going on. I’m involved in every aspect - sales, marketing, brewing, human resources... as well as the restaurant that we have on-site. And this works for me because I love working with people and I get to work with them everyday. Craft beer is an artisanal craft, it’s an industry that welcomes and values women and the contribution that they bring to it. Although the competition is getting tighter as the years go on, I see a bright future for craft beer in the future of South Africa.”


Share with us some of the women who you feel are making a contribution to the craft beer and beer industry within South Africa. Check us out on Facebook and Twitter and feel free to leave us a comment.

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