Turns out Jane Austen had a secret talent. And you'll never believe what it was...

Fancy that! Jane Austen is said to have brewed beer in her spare time.






It might be hard to believe now, but historically – dating as far back as Ancient Greece – beer was almost exclusively brewed by women. Even Jane Austen is said to have brewed in her spare time.

However, as beer production became more industrial and commercial, it became the domain of men. These days we tend to associate beer with masculinity – whether it’s the workman quenching his “hard earned thirst” with an ice-cold stubby, or the footy fan cheering on his team through mouthfuls of beer.

From the outside, it seems women have all but disappeared from the world of beer, save for the occasional appearance in a TV commercial (or Oktoberfest). But that could all be changing, with more women not only drinking beer but brewing it.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Lion. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.

Apart from Jane Austen, Jody is also a female beer brewer

“[The brewing industry] is definitely changing; there are a lot of women getting out there and doing great things,” says Jody Thomas, technical brewer at Lion Co.

Jody’s decision to become a brewer came about for two reasons: firstly, because she loved drinking beer, and secondly because her university studies in microbiology and genetics often focused on a strain of yeast used in brewing and wine-making.

“Brewing is actually quite scientific, I don’t think people realise that,” Jody says. It also helped that she was studying in the US state of Washington at the time, where craft beer was experiencing widespread popularity.


Once she decided on beer, Jody, 19 at the time, started organising classes that would make her a good candidate for brewing. “I was probably a bit nerdy about it, to be honest,” she laughs.

After finishing uni, she was accepted into a graduate program with Lion Nathan. Jody moved back home to New Zealand and started working at a small brewery in Wellington.

“You start at 5 in the morning, you’re all alone and you pretty much run a craft brewery by yourself – it was a bit of a challenge but so cool,” she says.

Seven years and five breweries later, Jody, 30, now serves as a tech consultant to several breweries across the Lion group in Sydney. For the past 6 months she’s been involved in the development of new ciders in Australia, while focusing on other brewing projects on the side.

“I love new technology and new products and new ways of doing things,” Jody says. “It’s lots of problem solving – that’s an exciting job to have.” Her passion and talent haven’t gone unnoticed, either – last year, Jody’s industry peers voted her the Young Brewer of the Year, which came as a “really nice surprise”.

Last year, Jody was voted as young brewer of the year.

Although brewing is still “absolutely” a male-dominated industry, especially at the top, Jody says female brewers are definitely making headway. Even though there are a few women in senior operation roles, she’s optimistic that with ongoing support, particularly from women-centric organisations like the National Association of Women in Operations and Pink Boots Society, more and more females will find be represented in operation roles in the very near future.


“It’s one of those things that’s going to take time … trying to recruit and retain females throughout their career is probably a challenge because operations environments can be quite demanding in terms of the time that’s expected,” she explains. “I think some women who have come before have naturally drifted away, which is a bit sad.”

However, Jody insists her gender hasn’t hindered her career progress – quite the opposite, in fact. She advises any women interested in a career in beer to talk to their local brewer about getting started in the industry. Who knows, it could turn out to be your dream job – just ask Jody.

“The first year I started working, it was when all my friends and I started our first jobs, and when we’d catch up all my friends would say, “Oh I hate my job,” she recalls.

“I would always sit there and not say anything. I’d think, ‘Oh, this is so bad, I don’t know what to say because my job is so cool. I have a bar tab, I’m using my hands, this is my dream come true – I don’t know if I can tell people that’.”

Just in case you’re not completely convinced, here is Jody hard at work:



   Supported by Lion.