Author Topic: Industry Experience Or Education  (Read 361 times)

Offline alexhyland

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Industry Experience Or Education
« on: June 13, 2019, 01:06:10 PM »
Do breweries prefer an education background or experience in the industry? I'm looking to get into the production side of brewing (assistant brewer, cellarman) and was wondering if it was worth it to go back to school or just pursue positions in the industry and build my resume.

I have a bachelors degree from MSU in an unrelated field and I'm very unhappy with my career thus far. I graduated in 2016 and I'm almost positive I could use my degree to fulfill prereqs for a minor. Michigan State University offers a Minor in Beverage Science and Technology. Any thoughts on that? The link to the minor is here: https://reg.msu.edu/AcademicPrograms/ProgramDetail.aspx?Program=5397

If you all have any thoughts or recommendations please feel free to reach out. I'm lost on what I should do to pursue getting into the industry and the community.

Thanks.

Offline BrewBama

  • I spend way too much time on the AHA forum
  • ********
  • Posts: 2672
Re: Industry Experience Or Education
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2019, 05:09:33 PM »
Why not do both simultaneously?  Pursue the education and fund it with a brewery labor job. Experience toting sacks of grain and hops , cleaning mash tuns and fermenters, etc while learning the theory in class.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
“From man’s sweat and God’s love, beer came into the world.” — St. Arnold

Brewed in the Tennessee Valley. Rocket City — Huntsville AL

Offline a10t2

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4602
  • Ask me why I don't like Chico!
    • SeanTerrill.com
Re: Industry Experience Or Education
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2019, 07:29:29 PM »
Personally, for someone applying on the production side I'd rather see industry experience. Obviously the degree wouldn't hurt but as long as you have *a* degree I think not having the minor won't hold you back much either.
Sent from my Microsoft Bob

Beer is like porn. You can buy it, but it's more fun to make your own.
Refractometer Calculator | Batch Sparging Calculator | Two Mile Brewing Co.

Offline alexhyland

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Industry Experience Or Education
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2019, 07:36:24 PM »
Why not do both simultaneously?  Pursue the education and fund it with a brewery labor job. Experience toting sacks of grain and hops , cleaning mash tuns and fermenters, etc while learning the theory in class.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

This is a viable option, honestly didn't even think about doing both at once. Thank you.

Offline alexhyland

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Industry Experience Or Education
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2019, 07:38:04 PM »
Personally, for someone applying on the production side I'd rather see industry experience. Obviously the degree wouldn't hurt but as long as you have *a* degree I think not having the minor won't hold you back much either.

Good to know, thank you. I have emailed about ten breweries and only had one response so far. But they preferred industry experience over the education because they said they don't have as much time to train new employees on the equipment. Which makes sense.

Offline majorvices

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 9783
  • Polka. If its too loud you're too young.
    • Yellowhammer Brewing Company
Re: Industry Experience Or Education
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2019, 12:02:28 PM »
Every brewer I ever hired with experience was far superior to those with simply an education. That said both is the best of both worlds.

I have trained *6 lead-brewers over the last 10 years and 3 of them either went to work for other breweries in the South East or open their own brewery. 1 of these went off to brewing school and he told me that he learned far, far more on the job than at school (though he did intern at a much nicer brewery than what ours was at the time). Another one took online classes while he worked for me which was huge for him because he could use our lab and equipment to do his homework.

The one who didn't go off to school won a GABF medal at one of the breweries he worked for....

(*To clarify I have trained well over 20 brewers/cellar but not all of them worked the brewhouse.)
« Last Edit: June 14, 2019, 12:04:12 PM by majorvices »

Offline Visor

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 477
Re: Industry Experience Or Education
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2019, 03:58:19 PM »
   As others have said, if you have the option of doing both, by all means do so. The relative value of formal education and brewery experience really depend on the sources of both, different educational programs will obviously provide different levels and specifics of knowledge, as will work experience in different breweries.
   Last year I attended and completed a 13 week brewing certificate program at a for profit school. After investigating every brewing program I could find, I made my choice based as much on the industry connections that the folks who operated the school had with all the local breweries, as the details of the program itself. Those connections provided me the opportunity to get in over 100 hours interning in a couple 3 BBL breweries and a 15 BBL brewery. The interning time was every bit as educational as the class time, and the process differences between the little, < $50,000 3 BBL brewhouses and the fancy, brand new $750,000 brewhouse were like night and day.
   Most of the programs I found were offered by colleges and universities, and required a minimum of 2 or 3 semesters for certificate programs, and 2 to 4 years for associate and bachelors degrees. There are a few that are of shorter duration and therefore less costly, but not very many - at least not that I was able to find.
   TIFWIW
I spent most of my money on beer, tools and guns, the rest I foolishly squandered on stupid stuff!

Offline RC

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 208
Re: Industry Experience Or Education
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2019, 11:17:22 PM »
If you go the education route, carefully consider the options. I went through the UC Davis Extension Master Brewers program and found that it was mostly a waste of time and money. Really, it's just a test-prep program--which, to be fair, they're clear about, so I can't knock them for it. Point is, there is no practical, hands-on doing of anything in this program. It's 100% book work, sitting on your butt listening to lectures (at least, it was when I went through it a few years ago). So I came out of the program knowing absolutely nothing about the nut-and-bolts of working in an actual brewery.

That said, I wouldn't have gotten my brewing job were it not for the program--because I wouldn't have heard about the opening if I hadn't been in the program. Which leads me to what I think is the main benefit of brewing education programs: you'll learn about job openings through them. As for the rest--the biochemistry, the microbiology, etc.--you can save a LOT of money if you buy the texts and read them on your own. And also homebrew a lot.

If you do a program but don't have a gig, then make sure you do a program that either has an internship or actually teaches you on a professional brewing system.

In any event, to summarize, I think a "brewing education" is mostly a waste of time and money, but if you don't go through one it'll make it much harder to find a gig. Catch-22.

Working at a brewery, you'll get worked physically to the bone, putting in long, long days for absolute crap pay. Be sure you want to make the leap. It's not as fun or fulfilling as it sounds. YMMV of course.