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General Category => Going Pro => Topic started by: brewerbrown on August 15, 2011, 11:02:36 PM

Title: Becoming a professional Brewer
Post by: brewerbrown on August 15, 2011, 11:02:36 PM
I was curious if anyone could tell me the best possible way to become a professional brewer at an already functioning brewery? The topics seem to be about how to start your own brewery, and I was wondering how one goes about getting into the brewing industry?  I have been home brewing for about a year now, and I am enrolled in the Brewers Guild Program in 2013 (waiting list is huge) in the mean time I am taking a trig, pre-calc and possibly a bio-chem class in preparation and my prior education is a BA in journalism from Ohio State  I guess I am wondering if I should be doing something else? Also, what does a brewers resume look like if he/she never been a professional brewer before?  As always thanks for the help...I love the AHA forum..
Title: Re: Becoming a professional Brewer
Post by: maxieboy on August 16, 2011, 01:21:02 AM
Real talk? Put your degree to work. Research the brewing biz in your spare time and see if it's for you... JMO...
Title: Re: Becoming a professional Brewer
Post by: jeffy on August 16, 2011, 02:35:25 AM
Most people will tell you to find work, even if it's volunteer work, at a brewery. 
Title: Re: Becoming a professional Brewer
Post by: punatic on August 16, 2011, 02:52:36 AM
I'm not sure how trigonometry will help you with brewing, but it was my favorite math in college.

Find a brewey, ask if you can help them with the grunt work, show up early, stay late, work hard, show an interest in what they're doing, have a positive attitude, and you should be successful.  Make yourself as indispensable as possible. 

Did I mention work hard?
Title: Re: Becoming a professional Brewer
Post by: tschmidlin on August 16, 2011, 06:50:03 AM
If you don't get more responses it is probably because people generally agree with what is above - I know I do.  Go volunteer and get some experience, even if it is pouring beers in the tasting room.  When they are short handed they are going to call someone they know.
Title: Re: Becoming a professional Brewer
Post by: majorvices on August 16, 2011, 11:35:15 AM
A local brewery near me hired on a part time college student 20-30 hours a week. AFAIK he is the only one who makes a pay check (min. wage - expect that). He started by volunteering, just like was mentioned above.
Title: Re: Becoming a professional Brewer
Post by: phillamb168 on August 16, 2011, 12:07:13 PM
Everything I've read says it's just like getting a position at a top restaurant - you can spend $$$ on an education (CIA or Siebel, same thing really) or you can bust your ass and work for free for the hope that somebody will take you on "full-time." Of course you could also go the "make a small fortune from brewing by starting with a large fortune" route...
Title: Re: Becoming a professional Brewer
Post by: bonjour on August 16, 2011, 01:11:19 PM
Volunteer.  Help.  Ask questions.  Learn what they do and why.  Do it ALL.  Get well connected with homebrewers as well.  Learn more about beer.  Develop your beer sensory and evaluation skills.

See if you can teach homebrewing  ata brewery.

That will help you if and when you decide to do it on your own.
Title: Re: Becoming a professional Brewer
Post by: nateo on August 16, 2011, 02:31:25 PM
If you want to do something really sobering, go to the probrewer.com forums, and look in the "work wanted" section. You will find hundreds of people with degrees in brewing science or related fields, with internships at good breweries, who can't find work.

Getting in on the ground floor somewhere is good advice, but as was mentioned earlier, you may be the only getting paid, and minimum wage at that. So unless the brewery you're at really takes off and becomes really successful, I wouldn't plan on making a future there.

I'm someone who isn't in the industry, so take this with a sack of salt, but I'd say the best way to get into the business would be to get a business degree, or at least take enough classes and get enough experience in business to be able to start and run your own brewery, and then hire a kid who went to school for brewing for minimum wage to work as your brewer.
Title: Re: Becoming a professional Brewer
Post by: brewerbrown on August 16, 2011, 03:07:04 PM
Thanks for all the advice....I will be on the hunt for a brewery that let me volunteer
Title: Re: Becoming a professional Brewer
Post by: denny on August 16, 2011, 03:28:43 PM
Here's the story of a guy who just lucked into a job at Rogue...

http://forum.northernbrewer.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=102594&start=45

This part is especially meaningful...

"I have been keeping my head down, mouth shut and worked until my arms felt like they were going to fall off, so I have become first in line for when new openings come.  I hope if you're applying to breweries you're not naive enough to think that brewers spend their day smelling hops and stirring mash tuns. Our brewers operate fork lifts more than they weigh ingredients, and clean/sanitize stuff that smells bad more than anything else. All in all, it's a factory. One that makes cool stuff, but still a factory."
Title: Re: Becoming a professional Brewer
Post by: brewerbrown on August 16, 2011, 03:45:11 PM
That is a great story...I am well aware that it takes a lot of hard work and that is not the most glamorous career, I know some guys that brew for the Pizza Ports' in San Diego and they have made me aware of this as well.  As far as the pro-brewer job boards being pretty depressing, well most job boards in any career field are bad now a days...so i am prepared for that as well...but keep the info coming
Title: Re: Becoming a professional Brewer
Post by: nateo on August 16, 2011, 03:52:04 PM
I guess my point is that for anyone in any field, there are hundreds of people smarter than you and more qualified than you who are looking for the same job. How anyone gets a job doing anything on their own merits seems like a miracle to me. I've found nepotism and cronyism to be the most effective ways to get jobs.
Title: Re: Becoming a professional Brewer
Post by: morticaixavier on August 16, 2011, 04:57:49 PM
I guess my point is that for anyone in any field, there are hundreds of people smarter than you and more qualified than you who are looking for the same job. How anyone gets a job doing anything on their own merits seems like a miracle to me. I've found nepotism and cronyism to be the most effective ways to get jobs.

while it can seem a little like multiple personality disorder I have found that it is important to keep this in mind but also to hold tight to the idea that there is NO ONE smarter, more qualified or better for the position you are going for than YOU. if you don't believe that someone would be crazy not to hire you than why would they think that.
Title: Re: Becoming a professional Brewer
Post by: brewerbrown on August 18, 2011, 04:07:15 PM
Just wanted to thank everybody for the advice once again and if any one has any more advice...feel free to send me a message
Title: Re: Becoming a professional Brewer
Post by: a10t2 on August 18, 2011, 08:42:41 PM
Our brewers operate fork lifts more than they weigh ingredients, and clean/sanitize stuff that smells bad more than anything else.

... and most brewers would be extremely jealous of them for having a forklift.
Title: Re: Becoming a professional Brewer
Post by: phillamb168 on November 23, 2011, 12:30:33 PM
One big thing to keep in mind in terms of equipment, a fact about which I was told the other day, is that equipment costs money, but MOVING and INSTALLING the equipment can sometimes cost even more, and should definitely be a part of the initial budget. For example, we want to move up north after a few years or three, and so it makes no sense to invest in a 5+ BBL brewery right now. We're going to start small with 1BBL and go from there (and yes, I know the argument against it, but things are different over here).
Title: Re: Becoming a professional Brewer
Post by: majorvices on November 23, 2011, 01:22:06 PM
Our brewers operate fork lifts more than they weigh ingredients, and clean/sanitize stuff that smells bad more than anything else.

... and most brewers would be extremely jealous of them for having a forklift.

I have a forklift now. It rocks!  ;D

Phill - one thing you can do once you get started on your one bbl system is simply add another MT, BK, Chiller and Pump. That's what I did. You can get very close to 3 bbls by doing this for very little money. We fill 110 gallon fermenters (close to 90 gallons at a time.)
Title: Re: Becoming a professional Brewer
Post by: boulderbrewer on November 24, 2011, 04:11:49 AM
I needed a forklift last week but it is on the wish list. 7 BBL here. I understand where you are going but work smarter rather than stronger. Your back will only last so long.
Title: Re: Becoming a professional Brewer
Post by: phillamb168 on November 24, 2011, 08:46:18 AM
Our brewers operate fork lifts more than they weigh ingredients, and clean/sanitize stuff that smells bad more than anything else.

... and most brewers would be extremely jealous of them for having a forklift.

I have a forklift now. It rocks!  ;D

Phill - one thing you can do once you get started on your one bbl system is simply add another MT, BK, Chiller and Pump. That's what I did. You can get very close to 3 bbls by doing this for very little money. We fill 110 gallon fermenters (close to 90 gallons at a time.)

That's a great idea - so I guess you mash twice and then boil everything at the same time?
Title: Re: Becoming a professional Brewer
Post by: bbump22 on March 10, 2012, 02:36:37 AM
I'm not sure how trigonometry will help you with brewing, but it was my favorite math in college.

Find a brewey, ask if you can help them with the grunt work, show up early, stay late, work hard, show an interest in what they're doing, have a positive attitude, and you should be successful.  Make yourself as indispensable as possible. 

Did I mention work hard?

Thats exactly how I started at a small start up in Seattle, then a year later I scored a job at Allagash...You have to be persistent and call them everyday once they have allowed you to volunteer once...They always need your help, but aren't going to call you so you can sand their stools...most brewers are too humble to ask you to do that, so ask them!

Just be persistent and honest and show your passion for beer and be ready to work your ass off.
Title: Re: Becoming a professional Brewer
Post by: nateo on March 10, 2012, 02:42:00 AM
and be ready to work your ass off.

From my experience, that's how you make money running a small business. If you personally work the equivalent of 2-3 jobs, that's 1 or 2 people don't have to pay. That's about the extent of my small business wisdom though. I have no idea how businesses that employ a lot of people make any money.

Unfortunately no one wants to volunteer at tackle stores, so I can't get free grunt work.