Brewing .... as a career

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ghostofdavid

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Albeit it early for me to consider this seriously, I thought I might make a post about it.

What does one do to become a serious career paid Brewmeister? My own endeavors have not taken me past toying with a Mr. Brew kit and asking the forum several (irritating) beginners questions, I am still curious to know what, if any, career I might be able to take this hobby to if it interests me greatly.

I, like another thread I read about, made the mistake of going to college and getting what equates as a liberal arts degree (read: Biblical Studies). I am completely sick of my job working at a corporate office for a Big Grocery Retailer (TM) and am always looking for a job that will allow me to make decent money doing things I love. I'm married now and need to get a little serious about life and was wondering if learning brewing was done in a formal school setting or if it is done by apprenticeship?

I say this, with several caveats to my thinking...

1. I don't really know brewing well enough to consider it as a career. Yet. But I like to think forward.

2. I might hate mixing hobby (pleasure) with business.

3. I am not of the school of thought that formal classrooms are the only place to learn. My old man raised me well enough to know that a fancy framed, stamped and gold embossed piece of paper can make or break you before the interview but common sense goes a long way.

What do you guys think, if anything, about this? Any of you brew for a living? Love it? Hate it? Recommendations?

I've seen a few books on Amazon about brewery companies writing semi-autobiographical works and loving every minute of it, but believe it or not I don't have the millions of dollars of capital to start my own.

I submitted my resume, on a whim, to a restaurant/brewery house for an Brewmeister's Apprentice (Ever heard of Rock Bottom?) but expect very little to come of the situation since it required two years of brewing experience...

I did read the thread at https://www.homebrewtalk.com/archive/index.php/t-1276.html as found by google and it helps a little as it gives me a few places to look at, but I was wondering also if anyone has personally experienced brewing as a career. Thanks for read! :mug:
 

McKBrew

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I think there are some threads on this.

Brewpastor used to be a career brewer, and Brewtopia is a brewer who is (hopefully soon) going to be opening his own brewpub.

You covered one of the biggest issues, in the fact that brewing as a job might be alot different than brewing as a hobby. I'd definately try to find a place to start out just to see if you like it. Maybe a local brew-pub would even let you come in part time to help with the brewing (even if they couldn't offer you a job).

Good Luck.
 

Bobby_M

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I think there are two ways to go. Work as a grunt in an established brewery, make friends, learn a lot, maybe take over as head brewer some day. The other way is to go through a program like the one at UC Davis. There was a Basic Brewing Radio podcast on this. Both tracts with require that you become a really good homebrewer first. Win some competitions to back up your skills. Of course, you can start your own brewpub without any real qualifications but staying in business means you'll have to have a lot of capital and at least 5 good recipes.
 

EvilTOJ

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+1 on Bobby_M's advice. The easy way would be to get a job at a brewery or brewpub cleaning out the mashtuns. Believe me, that *will* be your job for awhile.
 

DeathBrewer

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i've been seriously considering going to the UC davis program and possibly studying in germany or something for a while. i still have a couple more years at my job and would need to get back into some math and chemistry classes, but to tell you the truth...i have little interest in anything but brewing anymore.

the ultimate goal would be to have a brewpub, possibly co-own something with friends. i would not want to work for a big brewer and the little guys wouldn't pay enough. i figure if i wanted to run the place, tho, i should have the expertise. i'd probably go to school for a while, then work for different brewers, all while saving money.
 

surfbrewer

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My friend and fellow HBT member, b-dub, was a pro-brewer for years. He can fill you in on the ups and downs as he saw it.

From talking to him, and this is just my take on it, it seems that it is one of those love-hate things. Making the beer and being able to create something that thousands of people get to drink and enjoy is very rewarding, along with going to the Great American Beer Festival every year and rubbing elbows with all of the other pro's, and having access to unlimited ingredients and state of the art equipment, and etc., etc., etc.

Eventually though it becomes a "job", just like any other job, although a pretty cool one if you ask me. For a commercial brewery it is all about consistency, consistency, quality, and consistency. You make the same recipes over and over, ocassionally make something new or seasonal. You are brewing on such a large scale that some of the creativness that we enjoy so much about homebrewing gets lost. That's not to say that there aren't creative and innovative commercial breweries out there. They are just more the exception than the rule.

It was funny to watch my friend get back into homebrewing after years away from it and after a hiatus from brewing altogether. For a guy that is used to dumping in pounds of hops at a time he just couldn't get used to only putting in an ounce or a half ounce. Making the jump to pro-brewer is very different than making a five or ten gallon batch of brew in the backyard. That being said I think that all of us at one time or another have thought about what it would be like to go to work and make beer, it soundsd fantastic to me and for those of you that choose to do it, I applaude you and wish you well and I will happily drink your creations.

For me, I love homebrewing, the simplicity and complexity all in one, the creativity, and the final product that I can enjoy and share with friends. Learn to become an excellent homebrewer and then if you still want to be a pro, go for it and take the plunge. Maybe b-dub will chime in and give you his impressions. Good luck and happy brewing!

Cheers
 

c.n.budz

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I've gone down this road. A bunch of the investors that I do business with basically gave me a credit line and said "go to town and make us beer" then the market changed....

It's a lot harder to brew beer for a living than it is to brew for fun.

And, getting licensed for manufacture/distribution destroys your profit margin.... lousy gub'ment....
 

Connor85

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This is something that I have been thinking about myself for some time now, so I thought I'd give my input.

I've only been home brewing for a few months now, but I've been considering moving into brewing as a career for the past 2 years or so. I currently work as a machinist. I do greatly enjoy the manufacturing environment, but I want to be working on something that I truly take pride in; and enjoy the fruits of my labor as well.

I think it would make the most sense for someone with little hands on brewery experience to start at the bottom and work their way up. A part time job at a local brewery, getting hands on experience with the equipment, seeing the start to finish process, and learning the general day to day workings of the business would be the best place to start. That way, if you have a full time job already, you could start part time on the side and sort of test it all out before you make any drastic commitments.

If it ends up being something you want to do, I think some sort of apprenticeship with a reputable brewer that will put you through some sort of formal education would be the next step. I don't know how many brewers actually run full apprentice programs, but if its something you would want to pursue, do some research and keep an open mind (and open schedule for that matter).

This is how I plan to approach it. I am going to keep at it with my regular job until I have enough in savings to be able to fully commit to a change like this. Until then, I'm going to read and learn and practice as much as I can in my free time. The internet is a great tool for all of this. Forums, blogs, reviews, brewers websites, and Google are all great sources of information. The local library has had some of the classic books on beer and brewing, all of which contain information that any serious brewer should have at their disposal. I'm also going to keep an eye out for any open job postings at breweries in my area.

I am also fortunate to live in a state with many breweries, so in my spare time, I'm going to try to go on as many tours as I can, asking questions, taking notes, and maybe even make some contacts. The free beer at the end makes for some quality 'research' as well.

Theres my 2 cents. I would love to here others opinions as well. Keep in mind though, I am still new to this culture. This is only how how I intend to go about doing it, so I don't know how it's all going to pan out. But it's OK, we all need a little excitement in our lives.
 

MikeFlynn74

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I would also like to open a Micro brew / taphouse / bordello.

Ok maybe not the last one. So the next 2 years I have planned to create and test my recipies get some feed back. Get some word of mouth out as well as enter some contest.

At the same time I am going to finish my BS and try not to get redeployed.
 
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