Every brewer dreams of being inducted into the Knighthood of the Belgian Brewers' Guild - a medieval-era celebration of our cultural heritage and passion for beer. Recently that dream came true for Ariane Lepas, making her one of the youngest, female Knights in all of AB InBev.
“I love that my job is a point of conversation and that my family and friends have a connection to what I make,” says Ariane, Project Manager at Bosteels Brewery, one of our Belgian craft breweries. “Beverages will always be important for people and they will always be in our lives.”
Ariane has always been interested in the food industry, fermentation and microbiology. As a bio-engineer with specialization in brewing, she started her career as Global Experimental Brewery Specialist: her dream job. In the Global Experimental Brewery, she learned how to brew her own beer from A to Z, manage the planning and how to collaborate with colleagues worldwide on new innovative beers.
After several roles at the Global Innovation and Technology Center (GITeC) where she was involved in the development of non-alcoholic beers like Bud Prohibition, Castle Free and Carlton Zero, Ariane became the Project Manager at Bosteels Brewery in 2019.
“I'm responsible for the safety in the brewery and manage internal projects, but also help guarantee the quality of our beers,” she explains. “I join the tasting panels every day to ensure the quality is of its highest level.”
As Ariane coordinates the brewing process from seed to sip, she is the one person in the brewery who works closely with all colleagues throughout the entire brewing process.
“I love interacting with my colleagues – it's been the best part of all my roles,” she says. “We all work together to reach the same target: delivering high-quality beers for consumers to enjoy.”
Reaching a big career milestone
It's exactly this passion for beer that has brought Ariane to the Young Knighthood of the Belgian Brewers' Guild (officially called “The Knighthood of the Brewers' Paddle”). This annual celebration of cultural heritage honors people in the brewing industry worldwide for their significant contributions to the Belgian brewing profession and community, either commercially, politically, or socially. The Young Knighthood is a special edition dedicated to brewers under age 40.
“This is an important milestone for me: it is about bringing together all people with the same passion,” says Ariane. “The borders between different companies fade away. There is no competition in the Brewers' Guild.”
Ariane was honored for helping to build a stronger hop network at AB InBev for our craft breweries worldwide.
All the women at Bosteels Brewery who brewed the exclusive Adrienne beer.
“The knighting ceremony was beautiful and I felt like it honored my heritage,” says Ariane. “Being honored as a female brewer that contributed to Belgian beer culture – both locally and globally – means a lot to me professionally and personally.”
Ariane during the traditional Knighting Ceremony - including the brewers' paddle.
A new generation of beer culture
Ariane says she's proud of the work she's done and her role as the only female colleague in the operational departments at the Bosteels Brewery.
“You have to be confident,” she says. “I'm proud to be a brewer and appreciate the opportunity to bring a different perspective to the team. I like to stand out, to be unique in my own way. Each person has something unique and together we are a great team. That's what beer culture is all about.”
And her advice for other women in beer? “Try to be in the field as much as possible and talk to people ‘on the ground' who are working in the breweries and are very close to all the processes,” she says. “You learn a lot by talking to people with experience. Ask a lot of questions. Never be satisfied. Always be eager to learn new things. Stay curious.”
The AB InBev class of 2019: all Young Knights (Chris, Alicia, Klaas and Ariane) accompanied by Guy (middle), who is part of the Knighthood's High Council.
DID YOU KNOW…
- Ariane has a hop variety named after her! The “Ariana hop” is mainly grown in the well-known German Hallertau region and has a fruity aroma. It was recently used in a limited edition beer brewed exclusively by the female colleagues at Bosteels. Called “Adrienne”, the brew honors the pioneering wife of Antoine Bosteels, who was an early leader at the brewery.
- The Knighthood of the Brewers' Paddle is a direct descendant of a century-old brewers' guild.
- Belgian beer culture is recognized by UNESCO as world heritage.
- Each year, before the celebration, the beer is blessed in holy cathedrals.
- AB InBev CEO Carlos Brito was knighted by the Brewers' Guild to celebrate his contributions to the Belgian beer culture.