ESSENCE Network: Beer Maker Rebecca Bennett on Brewing Success

As you grab a cold one this holiday, give thanks to Rebecca Bennett, a brewmaster for Anheuser-Busch. The newlywed uses her engineering degree to design new beers. See her exciting journey in STEM and her tips for thriving in business.

As you grab a cold one this holiday, give thanks to Rebecca Bennett, a brewmaster for Anheuser-Busch. The newlywed uses her engineering degree to design new beers. See her exciting journey in STEM and her tips for thriving in business.

Name: Rebecca Bennett
Age: 31
Title: Product Development Specialist, Anheuser-Busch
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Hometown: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Education: Bachelor of Science, Chemical Engineering, Purdue University

The gig: I manage the development of new products, a joint effort between the brewing, research and innovation teams. Part of my job is to take concepts and transfer them into a brewing recipe. I also coordinate test brewing in our Research Pilot Brewery. The brewing process takes about a year. Seeing the final product on the shelf, at a restaurant or on TV is very rewarding. The first time I saw a product I developed in the grocery store I was with my then-boyfriend, now-husband on our way to the checkout.  I happened to see the packaging out of the corner of my eye and yelled “that’s my beer!”  We of course bought some.  I sent a picture to my parents and posted it on Facebook.  We are all extremely proud of the work we do here.

The journey: During my junior year of college at Purdue, Pete Kraemer, an alum, spoke to my chemical engineering seminar class about Anheuser-Busch and opportunities for engineers.  During my senior year, I decided to put in my resume and never looked back. Now, I’m always thinking of food and flavors from a brewing perspective, especially when I go out to eat. It really speaks to my scientific interests in chemistry and biology while also involving a lot of creativity.

Confessions of a Black woman brewer: People have a perception that brewers are all guys with beards and are surprised when they see me, an African-American female. I tell them that I am a brewer, and that the brewing process is really rooted in science. There is so much you can do with a STEM degree.

Her boss move: A couple of months after I started as a production supervisor in the St. Louis brewery, there were staffing changes that put me in a more senior position. The brewmaster told me my co-workers were going to look to me to be a leader. So I could be ready for the challenge and step up to the plate or I could shy away from it. I stepped up. The takeaway from that experience for me was that challenges are going to arise whether you are ready for them or not. So, you have to have faith in your abilities. You just might surprise yourself.

Her stress relievers: I enjoy cooking and baking. My husband and I love having people over and entertaining. There is often beer because it’s a good product and social. Laughing with friends is a great way to relax.  

Her secret superpower: My sensory skills. My job requires advanced tasting skills to identify the nuanced differences between different products.

Her beauty must-haves: I put the most effort into taking care of my skin with cleansers and moisturizers.

Her power style: Look good, feel good, do good. If I know I have a big meeting or presentation, I put on the color red.  It makes me feel powerful.

Her work/life tip: I leave work at work and home at home.  I don’t often bring work home. I would rather stay later or come in early to get something finished that I need to instead of working on it at home.  It helps me to stay focused in both areas and not bring stress from one part of life into the other.  

Her theme song: “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley.  I always try to have a positive attitude and don’t sweat the small stuff.

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