We all know that Jef Versele is the head brewer of St. Stefanus, but behind every great man there is a great woman. We caught up with Jef’s wife and business partner, Theresa Deroose, to ask her a few questions.
1. We all know that behind every great man is a great woman. Without you, would everything fall apart?
Jef and I both have our own strengths. We are very complimentary and work well as a team.
2. What is your role in the brewery?
It covers a whole range of things, including finance, HR and marketing. It is quite a small company so the job is very flexible.
3. How did you get into brewing beer?
Beer has always been an important part of our life together. Jef said he noticed me in the pub always drinking beer unlike the other girls drinking wine. We studied together, and soon after that Jef started working in the brewery.
I started my career in auditing, in an ugly office with an atmosphere full of rivalries. It didn’t suit me. After I had my first child in 2002, I started in the brewery without even thinking about it. This brought the family closer and gave me more time and energy for the job.
4. Why do you think women are reluctant to order a beer at a restaurant or bar?
I do feel it is changing a bit, as brewers are looking to get the attention of women. Beer is being feminised with beautiful glasses and fruit beer, but they do need a push. Presentation is very important.
5. What do you think can be done to get more women into beer?
Women need to be willing to try new things and spread the word about what they like. If you put a Golden Draak in their hand they will try it and love it!
6. Do you think restaurant menus should have beer lists sitting alongside wine lists?
Yes, definitely. People need to know about the variety of beer on offer. When you order wine you pay a lot of money but aren’t sure about the quality. With our beer, the price is much lower but you always get the quality.
7. What is your favourite meal to pair with a glass of St. Stefanus?
It is very accessible and easy to combine with a lot of meals. It is very good with mussels, and meat is also a good choice.
8. We know that beer makes a great ingredient in the kitchen; what is your favourite dish that features St. Stefanus?
Mussels or rabbit are great. With rabbit, you brown it with onions and bacon and add the beer to stew. Delicious!
9. What is your top tip for any budding brewers?
Passion. That is something you see in all beer brewers. If you want people to love your product then you need to love creating it.
10. What’s the most exciting part of your job?
The challenge to adapt. This is a six-generation company with a lot of history, and we need to make sure we keep up with modern technology and the way people and markets are changing.
11. Where is your favourite place in the brewery?
My new office! I love it! Before, I was in the corner without any light and now I have a beautiful bright office with a lovely view.
12. And finally, tell us something people might not know about you.
I love running! I take part in the 16km Antwerp marathon. I also think family time is really important; you have to have a good work-life balance.
Keep an eye out for more behind the scenes features over the coming weeks.