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Becoming a brewer?
Posted September 15th, 2010 - 12:05 am by from Maple Ridge, Canada (Permalink)
So I am at the point in me life where I got lots of choices for careers. I have looked at many things, but then I thought that since I love to drink, why not become a brewer?!

I just have a few questions:
-Is it hard to get a job at a brewers? (lowest cleaning job at first is no issue for me)
-what kinds of education can you/do you need to get to become a professional brewer?
-Last and pretty much least, how are the wages?

thanks all

Posted September 15th, 2010 - 1:06 am by from Montreal, Canada (Permalink)
Hi Stephen,

It depends what kind of brewery work you want to do. It shouldn't be too difficult to get a job at a large production brewery (i.e. Molson), but you might end up just driving a forklift. Medium sized production breweries (i.e. Dead Frog or Russel) hire more regularly, which would be a great way to get your foot in the door. Microbreweries such as R&B and Storm have very low turnover, and brewpubs such as Steamworks, are almost impossible to get into. In other words, the more interesting the job, the harder it is to get!

You don't need any formal education. I know brewers who started out as cooks or bartenders. You can definitely learn on the job. It helps a lot if you've at least brewed at home though. The only problem is that you're more likely to convince someone to give you that first job if you've gone to a brewing school. Two places they offer them are through the Siebel Institute or UC Davis.

Pay isn't great, but it varies. If you start your own place that becomes successful you can make good money. If you're working for someone else then there's a limit to how much you will make.

Below I've attached some advice from Vinne Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing (which has seven beers in the top 100 on beeradvocate.com)
This is pretty much exactly what I'm doing - working for free right now at Gulf Islands Brewery on Salt Spring. But hey, I get to do everything so it's great experience and a foot in the door... hopefully it will help me make the next step to a paying gig at another awesome brewery.

Good luck if you decide to go the brewing route!



What advice/words of wisdom do you have for those who may want to go pro?

I'd say first and foremost approach a local brewery and see about doing an apprenticeship which will mean working for free for sometime. In most cases the homebrewer will start out cleaning kegs and doing general cleaning around the brewery, he or she most certainly wouldn't start out brewing right from the get go or start out transferring beer. There is a big difference between homebrewing and brewing professionally when it comes to process control. Things like getting all or most of the Co2 evacuated out of a fermenter before CIPing it, or making sure the tank is vented so you don't run the risk of imploding it. Most homebrewers aren't working with heavy cleaners like caustic soda, so, there is a major safety issue with that along with the fact that we use lots of hot water which can be dangerous if not handled properly.

Overall, the homebrewer wanting to go pro who finds a brewery that will take he or she in needs to have patience's. During the early period of cleaning kegs and general brewery cleaning the apprentice will learn about general practices regarding transferring beer and cleaning, than over time, they could get into more of the day to day stuff.