Raise your glass for her!
Anheuser-Busch, the world’s largest beer company, just named the company’s first Black woman senior brewmaster at it’s St. Louis factory, Black Enterprise reports.
Natalie Johnson made history, being named the first Black woman brewmaster for the beer brand in its near 200-year history. A St. Louis native, Johnson said the Anheuser-Busch brand is undefeated in its home city. Not only does the company have a larger than life presence, but it also has strong ties to the community, including internships offered to students that allow them to create college career pipelines and hire from within.
The summer before college, Johnson was able to intern under the beer titan’s Inroads program, taking a deep dive into the brewing process and learning the ins and outs that would prove vital in the future. Johnson was focused on getting as much lab experience as she looked to pursue a STEM degree and was impressed by the amount of data and detail involved in the brewing process. She began looking at the field as a viable career opportunity, and after college, she was offered a job with the company. Now, Johnson is the Brewing Director of North America, the first Black woman to hold the title.
“What many don’t expect is that the brewing process is an extremely precise balance of science and art. As a brewmaster, we ensure consistency across every brewery when executing new recipes and make appropriate adjustments to ensure that no matter where consumers are drinking our beer, the taste is the same. My role…allows me to touch all breweries in my zone and help them stay consistent and work through any overarching issues,” Johnson said.
Despite her success, the journey has not been without its fair share of struggles, diversity being an issue in the brewing industry. To combat this issue, Johnson has partnered with the United Negro College Fund to create the “Budweiser Natalie Johnson Scholarship” for students of color pursuing STEM degrees. The scholarship allows students the opportunity to complete their academic tenure while also providing access to career opportunities in the brewing industry. Johnson hopes the scholarship will create more avenues for people of color in the industry and increase diversity and inclusion at Anheuser-Busch while inspiring others to follow suit.
Johnson encourages Black women to look at the brewing industry as a serious career path and bring their passions into the work.
“I am honored to share my experience and continue forging a path for young Black students, showing them that a career in the brewing industry is possible. There is still much to do, and I am immensely proud to be at a company that places such a strong emphasis on D&I initiatives…My advice to other Black women interested in the brewing industry is to pursue it!…your contributions are needed. Look for and seize opportunities to learn and be exposed to all aspects of the industry, then follow your passion,” said Johnson.
Photo Courtesy of Anheuser-Busch