Rochelle Dunlop is a talented young brewster who brews for Afro Carribean Brewing Company, which is situated above what is arguably Cape Town’s best beer bar, Banana Jam Café. She started out as a waitress but soon realised that brewing is what makes her heart hop. She’s now the head brewer and has just won Beer of the Year and Best Hoppy Beer for her Jungle Paradise IPA at the South African National Beer Trophy Awards.
Who are you and what is your involvement in the beer world?
I’m Rochelle Dunlop, and I’m the head brewer of Afro Caribbean Brewing Co.
When did your love for beer begin?
When I was around 16. I remember it being incredibly hot and I had an ice-cold draught. It’s just grown from there, especially since the industry and available beer has become so much better and more accessible.
What is your favourite beer right now?
I would probably have to say Giant IPA from Noordhoek’s Aegir Project Brewery. Rory has been tweaking the recipe for years and it’s a massively hoppy IPA, but it’s really well balanced.
Beer has long been a male-dominated industry – do you think things are changing and if so, how?
Every day we are seeing more women in every aspect of the beer world. Marketing is being aimed at women as well, and I’m constantly seeing more women at beer festivals, which is awesome. So things are definitely changing and with all the available styles of beer around now the days of beer being for men only are over.
What has been your most encountered difficulty as a woman in beer?
I actually haven’t had much difficulty – the guys in the craft industry have all been super supportive and welcoming. We have a great community that is always willing to help out.
If you could change one thing in the current industry, what would it be?
Probably to have more diversity across the board. As the public learns more about craft beer and that not all beers taste like lager, I think we will see a shift.
What advice would you give to any young woman starting out in the beer industry today?
You got this. It’s hard and trying at times, but if you put in the hours in both brewing and learning the science behind brewing, you’ll show them how it’s done.
What do you think the future holds for women in beer in the next five years?
I think more recognition of women actually being in the industry (from the public/consumers) and hopefully more women in the industry kicking ass and taking names.
What one thing upsets you most about the South African craft beer scene?
I think that because craft beer is quite a male-dominated industry, the public perception tends to lend itself to people assuming that I’m just there for sales as a bartender. Often they assume I don’t know what I’m talking about when I’m describing the beers. I think as people become more educated over time, this will shift.
Where can people find you or follow your journey?