Author Topic: So you want to be a brewer  (Read 14700 times)

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: So you want to be a brewer
« Reply #45 on: July 15, 2013, 08:59:18 PM »
Cool story. Good for you.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: So you want to be a brewer
« Reply #46 on: July 16, 2013, 07:39:26 AM »
I'm coming in here behind the ball, but here is my take on it:
I've been homebrewing for 3 years, and have been rather successful at it. Numerous gold medals, a silver, and more HMs than I could count. I've had the "Your beer is great! When do you open your brewery?" question many times. So I contacted a few wealthy friends about the idea, and one of them was very enthusiastic about it. Well, until it came time to actually put down some money for it, then he was strangely absent. Needless to say, I was pretty discouraged. I had spent a LOT of time, researching, meeting with other brewers, talking to city officials, etc...
So I decided to stick with just homebrewing.
But I never gave up my belief in, and desire for, becoming a pro brewer. 
I was lucky enough to meet with a local pro brewer through my club, and he mentioned that they needed an assistant. Who do you think was jumping up and down, shouting "Me! Me! Me!"? He then contacted me, after talking to several of the officers of the club, and offered me the job. It was a tough decision, to step away from a decent paying job, and start at the bottom in a new profession. But I did it, and have been the happiest I've ever been.
It is a lot of time spent cleaning. And cleaning. And cleaning. And cleaning... You get the point. It is many many hours in a hot and humid environment. Even with boots on, my feet are constantly wet. Grain get very freaking heavy, after you've lifted 10,000 lbs worth to sort and stack in the grain room. It is very dusty and dirty, after milling a batch. Then cleaning the mash tun, when 1000 lbs of grain becomes almost 2000 lbs of wet, hot grain.
But you know what? Best decision of my life. I couldn't be happier, working a hard, labor intensive job for a smaller paycheck.  So you want to be a brewer? Better know what you really want. If you want all this, then good luck. A lot of people think they can handle this, but don't know what they are getting into. The head brewer where I work told me they have fired or let go of many assistants who thought it was all fun and drinking beer.
If you want to open your own brewery, better have a lot of capital to back you up. And be prepared to work harder than you ever have. If you truly love it, it won't be work.
I love my job, and go home more tired and sore, but ultimately more satisfied, than I ever have.
Thanks
Thank you for posting that.
Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, AHA Member, BJCP Certified
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline boulderbrewer

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Re: So you want to be a brewer
« Reply #47 on: July 16, 2013, 08:14:46 AM »
People actually get paid to do this? Heck I do it for free.  ;)
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Offline thirsty

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Re: So you want to be a brewer
« Reply #48 on: July 16, 2013, 08:21:28 AM »
This thread has made me realize that I'm far too old, weak, and lazy to be a pro brewer.

Offline redbeerman

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Re: So you want to be a brewer
« Reply #49 on: July 16, 2013, 09:27:38 AM »
This thread has made me realize that I'm far too old, weak, and lazy to be a pro brewer.

+1 on the old part anyway.
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Offline bluesman

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Re: So you want to be a brewer
« Reply #50 on: July 16, 2013, 09:34:56 AM »
I'm coming in here behind the ball, but here is my take on it:
I've been homebrewing for 3 years, and have been rather successful at it. Numerous gold medals, a silver, and more HMs than I could count. I've had the "Your beer is great! When do you open your brewery?" question many times. So I contacted a few wealthy friends about the idea, and one of them was very enthusiastic about it. Well, until it came time to actually put down some money for it, then he was strangely absent. Needless to say, I was pretty discouraged. I had spent a LOT of time, researching, meeting with other brewers, talking to city officials, etc...
So I decided to stick with just homebrewing.
But I never gave up my belief in, and desire for, becoming a pro brewer. 
I was lucky enough to meet with a local pro brewer through my club, and he mentioned that they needed an assistant. Who do you think was jumping up and down, shouting "Me! Me! Me!"? He then contacted me, after talking to several of the officers of the club, and offered me the job. It was a tough decision, to step away from a decent paying job, and start at the bottom in a new profession. But I did it, and have been the happiest I've ever been.
It is a lot of time spent cleaning. And cleaning. And cleaning. And cleaning... You get the point. It is many many hours in a hot and humid environment. Even with boots on, my feet are constantly wet. Grain get very freaking heavy, after you've lifted 10,000 lbs worth to sort and stack in the grain room. It is very dusty and dirty, after milling a batch. Then cleaning the mash tun, when 1000 lbs of grain becomes almost 2000 lbs of wet, hot grain.
But you know what? Best decision of my life. I couldn't be happier, working a hard, labor intensive job for a smaller paycheck.  So you want to be a brewer? Better know what you really want. If you want all this, then good luck. A lot of people think they can handle this, but don't know what they are getting into. The head brewer where I work told me they have fired or let go of many assistants who thought it was all fun and drinking beer.
If you want to open your own brewery, better have a lot of capital to back you up. And be prepared to work harder than you ever have. If you truly love it, it won't be work.
I love my job, and go home more tired and sore, but ultimately more satisfied, than I ever have.
Thanks

Nice summary. :)
Ron Price

Offline Thirsty_Monk

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Re: So you want to be a brewer
« Reply #51 on: July 16, 2013, 09:45:24 AM »
People actually get paid to do this? Heck I do it for free.  ;)
This is call volunteering.
I have been doing this for 3 years now.
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Re: So you want to be a brewer
« Reply #52 on: July 19, 2013, 08:59:43 AM »
At a wedding reception I talked to a guy who is going pro. He has been brewing dice Christmas, on a Mr. Beer system. He has made four batches, all awesome. 8)
Jeff, send him the link to the article before he hurts himself!

If he's funded, let him buy the equipment, then send him the link!
Beer is like porn. You can buy it, but it's more fun to make your own.
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Offline boulderbrewer

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Re: So you want to be a brewer
« Reply #53 on: July 20, 2013, 07:25:32 PM »
TM we are always looking for help
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Offline roffenburger

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Re: So you want to be a brewer
« Reply #54 on: July 22, 2013, 06:48:28 AM »
For those who have a brewery, arr you able to have volunteers in to work. Does it become a liability for the company? How about "internships" not associated with academia?

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Offline anthony

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Re: So you want to be a brewer
« Reply #55 on: July 22, 2013, 07:10:02 AM »
For those who have a brewery, arr you able to have volunteers in to work. Does it become a liability for the company? How about "internships" not associated with academia?

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It only becomes a liability if you don't already have the correct things set up. In my mind, before a stranger shows up to help you brew, the minimums you need set up are:

1) Payroll, you will want this person to be an employee, even if just for a day or two for a lot of reasons. The unpaid internship situation is getting a lot more federal attention too. Just add them to the payroll and pay them minimum wage for the day.

2) Workman's comp insurance, hopefully they don't get hurt, but if they do, you don't want to be liable for their injuries.

3) Commercial liability insurance, if this person accidentally blows up your brewery while helping or drops a shard of glass into a bottle while helping you bottle, you don't want to be liable for whatever happens after that if someone manages to drink the shard.

4) A reasonable waiver coupled with a non-disclosure agreement, the waiver part of this is a just-in-case. The non-disclosure agreement protects you. Ultimately it shows you took steps to protect your "trade secrets" in case this volunteer starts doing something un-dude-like with the knowledge you are sharing with them.

Even with these things set up, You need to use your best judgement and some of your gut feelings before bringing on random volunteers. I've had situations where volunteers accidentally switch around malt in a recipe, stand in front of the exhaust output from the heat exchanger, accidentally dump a few gallons of wort down the drain, get sprayed with wort, etc.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2013, 07:13:38 AM by anthony »

Offline gogreen437

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Re: So you want to be a brewer
« Reply #56 on: July 22, 2013, 07:17:03 AM »
People always say,"good beer! You should open a brewery!"

Yeah, I've gotten that a few times. My response is something like "thanks, but I don't want to borrow 50-100k from anyone to open a brewery."

Tryy 500-1000k and you will be way closer to the mark. You need at least 250k to really even consider making enough beer to kinda even think about paying anyone even min. wage.

It depends on what you are doing and where you are doing it and what kind of incentives local governments might give you for doing it, but after looking into it extensively you can definitely do it for less than a million. 250k is a good mark, but again, it depends on what you are doing.  A place opened by me recently for about 80 grand and is doing well.

Offline majorvices

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Re: So you want to be a brewer
« Reply #57 on: July 22, 2013, 07:20:20 AM »
I agree, we started with about 80K. But that was not going to ever make us a dime until we got loans to get real equipment. Lotsa hard work, no pay (in fact, it was costing us to brew). The question is, how many people are willing to quit their day jobs or work two full time jobs to make it work. If you are, then more power to you.
Keith Y.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: So you want to be a brewer
« Reply #58 on: July 22, 2013, 07:24:05 AM »
For those who have a brewery, arr you able to have volunteers in to work. Does it become a liability for the company? How about "internships" not associated with academia?

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I only accepted 1 volunteer (have had lots of offers) and he became an employee that afternoon when I let another guy go who was not a very good worker. I made him sign a release form. It basically stated that he understood the risks and would not hold us liable. I also made sure he had his own health insurance.

Volunteers are not helpful, generally. It's a lot of teaching and training.

*Clarify that, I have had some friends help out of bottling days. They were "volunteers" who were rewarded with beers.
Keith Y.
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Offline gogreen437

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Re: So you want to be a brewer
« Reply #59 on: July 22, 2013, 07:30:40 AM »
The element that I see most often neglected is that most small start ups that actually turn profitable don't just do beer, they do food too.  And they do it well.