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Old 10-16-2013, 05:17 PM   #1
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Default Tips for the Homebrewer that wants to get in the brewing industry

Like many of us here, I aspire to brew on a commercial scale someday. I am still somewhat new to brewing but know it is something I want to continue doing. I don't usual get too involved in my hobbies but this one has me hooked/obsessed. I realize that there is a lot of learning still ahead of me and I accept that. I don't want to start out as a canning boy but would work my way up if I have to. There was an opening as an assistant brewer at tallgrass a few months ago that did not require experience that really made me think hard about leaving my job. Hopefully if an opportunity like this arises again, I will be more prepared to take it on.

So my question is aimed at those who have spent time in the brewing industry. What advice would you give to those looking to seek a brewing career? Is there anything that you wish you would have known as a homebrewer before being a professional brewer? Thanks in advance for anyone who can share good information with me. I know being a brewer isnt all glamour and doesn't pay great but I think I would get much more enjoyment out of it than a normal 8 to 5.

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Old 10-16-2013, 06:27 PM   #2
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My personal plan is to do some volunteer work to really get an idea of whether or not I want to turn hobby into career.

That means being willing to step up and do ****ty work like helping them out with canning, cleaning out the mash tun, lifting giant grain sacks, and mopping up. If I complain about any of these labor intensive activities while volunteering, I'm going to call it quits on the dream.

Either way, this is what I'd recommend you do. Try some volunteer work. If you enjoy it, then quit your job and change your career. Try joining a local brew club. I know a couple of people that could get me "in" to that volunteer work when I'm ready. Also helps that I know people involved with Surly (although I highly doubt Todd will ever need an extra hand) and with the local homebrew shops. Network and volunteer, that's the first step.

And as a sobering reality. I was told that Fulton Brewery had (I think) over 600 applicants for an asst. brewer position. Only 2 were invited to do "working" interviews to see if they got along with the crew. Both candidates had previous experience working in breweries. The rest were a scad of weekend homebrewers.

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Old 10-16-2013, 06:49 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sidepart View Post
And as a sobering reality. I was told that Fulton Brewery had (I think) over 600 applicants for an asst. brewer position. Only 2 were invited to do "working" interviews to see if they got along with the crew. Both candidates had previous experience working in breweries. The rest were a scad of weekend homebrewers.
That's how things go around here too. Anyone who has ever brewed on their stove applies for those positions. Which is also why they can pay so little. Not saying don't go for it, but there is a flocc load of people with the same idea.
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Old 10-16-2013, 07:05 PM   #4
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Volunteering is a great idea. I may need to look into doing that. I have a buddy whose parents own a small brewery here in town, I may go talk to him about the idea.

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Old 10-16-2013, 07:07 PM   #5
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You should show the brewery why they need YOU, not just employee #34.

Somehow get a local brewery to brew one of your recipes for distribution in a local bar or bars, and see if you can brew it using their equipment, or at least assist them. In Milwaukee, every year there's a homebrew competition, and this happens to whoever gets first place in a certain style. Breweries have small test batch setups, so I don't think making a batch small enough is out of the question. Getting a brewery and bar to go in with you will take some networking and convincing.

I wouldn't go into a brewery doing grunt work and expect to move up.

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Old 10-16-2013, 09:34 PM   #6
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I obviously believe that I have the capability of working anywhere once I get some experience in commercial brewing. Accreditation would be something I might do down the road if I see it fit. I think the biggest obstacle to overcome is good experience.

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Old 10-17-2013, 01:08 PM   #7
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I wouldn't go into a brewery doing grunt work and expect to move up.
That's a really good point. The grunt work I'm interested in is mainly because I'm interested in starting my own brewery down the road. I would prefer to be self-employed doing something I like personally, and have it succeed and grow under my supervision.

If I were to gamble on such a venture though, I'm sure the first few years at least, I (and a couple of partners) would need to be scraping gunk out of the mash tun, fermenters, run a canning line, etc etc on top of brewing. Hence why I would like to volunteer and gauge how much of a labor of love brewing really is.
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Old 10-17-2013, 01:14 PM   #8
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Living in Kansas can't help too much. I've worked in breweries, it isn't glamorous. Small breweries don't have the money to pay much. Head brewers typically max out around 50-60K till you move into large scale production. If you get into large scale (even Sam/Lagunitas/Boulvard etc are large). It is no longer a craft but it is scientific food production. If you get into a brewery expect to clean kegs, bottle, and do general shi* work for a long A$$ time. Unfortunately once you're in, you are waiting for a new brewery to open and move to or waiting for someone to die.

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