The Woman’s Touch
By Sofie Vanrafelghem
Female brewers prove there’s no glass ceiling in brewing beer.
Ellen Mertens was always interested in science. That’s what led her to study bio-engineering at the University of Leuven. In the last year of her master’s program she had five options, and she chose beer technology.
“In the second year we already had to choose a thesis topic,” Mertens says. “The only thing that interested me out of all the topics suggested was the one from Professor Freddy Delvaux from the Centre for Malting and Brewing Science. So it was logical for me to go for beer technology as a specialisation.”
She graduated in 1994 and started an internship at the Affligem brewery in Opwijk, in the quality control department. Theo Vervloet, then general manager and now chairman of the Belgian Brewers’ Federation, took her under his wing. “Thanks to Theo Vervloet I really grew into the job,” she says now. “The experience I gained then still serves me every day in my current job.”
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