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Thread: Becoming a Brewer

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
    Posts
    10

    Becoming a Brewer

    Hi there,

    I am looking for a bit of advice on becoming a professional brewer and hoping that you guys and gals might help.

    The plan is to first spend some time working in a craft brewery, learning the trade, and seeing if it's what I thought it was going to be, and if I can make a career out of it. Any advice on what employers look for would be much appreciated.

    Step two is finding a school with the right program. I've been looking a lot at both the Siebel Institute and UC Davis. Both sound like great schools with great track records. How does one pick? Is one generally more highly regarded than the other? Are their programs of the same calibre? Is this the place to be comparing schools?

    Again any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I'm in Vancouver, BC, if there's anyone around here with adivce I'd love to go for a beer.

    Cheers,
    Ben
    benvanhee@hotmail.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    duluth, mn
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    3
    I may be biased but I highly recommend Oregon State University. Itís a small program that is learner orientated. They have excellent facilities and support. Oregonís extensive craft beer industry offers an excellent opportunity for work while you learn.
    Hereís a link to the programs website.

    http://oregonstate.edu/dept/foodsci/

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
    Posts
    10
    thanks for the reply and link. i've heard good things about oregon state and their fermentaltion science program. as well, i'm think that i might try and start with an online course first so I have at least something to write on the old resume before I go a knocking on doors.
    has any one taken an online course or recommend one?

    cheers,
    Ben

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Vancouver, B.C. Canada
    Posts
    212

    Cool brewing school

    I had the same problem 2 years ago when I was looking for a brewing education in Canada..I coudn't find anything...most of the brewers I talked to went to Siebel in Chicago or U.C. Davis. in California and had good things to say about their experience..I've heard that the American Brewers guild offers an on-line course that's good. I think Siebels offers a course in Montreal now. Doesn't Backwood Brewing in Langley teach a brewing course ?

    In the end I opted to go to England to study at Brewlab and really enjoyed it...I felt it was better value for our (weak) dollar plus you get to experience the "old" world of brewing...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada!
    Posts
    281
    Having worked at Backwoods myself I can safely say I don't recall anyone coming in to learn the fine art of brewing. Drinking, yes.

    Ben, get thee to the local pubs/breweries - ask questions, drink beer, soak it all up and then make your choice. You'll be spending plenty of $$$ for an education, and it depends on who you ask as to what value they place on one.

    Scrub floors and inspect bottles

    or

    Scrub floors, inspect bottles, and brew the beer. It's up to you.

    Dave

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Redmond (Seattle), Wa
    Posts
    364
    I have been brewing for four years now and just started the Amercian Brewers Guild program this Feb. I cannot afford the luxury of leaving the brewery for months on end and still hope to have a brewing job waiting when I get back. I am learning alot in the correspondence program and find it very helpful in that it expands on why I am doing the things I have learned over the last four years. You never can learn too much in this business, so I value this program. That being said, in my opinion, the best education is theory combined with hands-on experience...which is what I have now.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    2
    HI Ben,

    I completed the American Brewer's Guild class this winter and found it to be a great fit for my life and the amount of material that I learned. I also could not leave my home base and go to a program such as Davis or Oregon. The apprentice program is a great way to get the practical experience that is needed. Many of my fellow classmates have gotten jobs at excellent breweries.
    Good Luck!

    omar

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Wanaque, NJ
    Posts
    25

    Yo Omar!!!!!!

    I agree with Omar....in part because I was in the same class as him. I couldn't really leave my home to go to a class full time for several weeks, so the ABG was a good fit with the online feature. They offer an extended version that includes a 5 week apprenticeship at a brewery and that part i liked, if not loved, more than the class itself. It was a great experience, and now i am hoping i can land a job somewhere soon.

    -B

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Napa CA
    Posts
    65

    Abg

    I too graduate from the ABG distance course. the ability to "schedule" my own lecture days, and research days was a great plus. if you have the time abd are around some local guys, see if you can pop your head during regular cellar days and brew days so you can see what is happening actually vs what the books say. good luck
    Nicholas Campbell

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
    Posts
    10
    again thanks everyone for the replies,

    i hadn't really given the online thing any thought until i read the posts here. it's piqued my curiousity for sure.
    and the UK option as well. i'd thought about it, but never really considered it an option.
    does anyone know of any brew schools on the european continent, belgium in particular, that offer courses in anglais? there's one in germany i believe?
    anyone been there or know anything about it?

    as a final note, does anyone think that simply knocking on doors furiously, with no professional brewing experience or education, is fruitless? i'm not much of a quiter.

    this bud, or whatever malty beverage you prefer,'s for you,
    Ben

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Redmond (Seattle), Wa
    Posts
    364
    I badgered my way into the brewing business, someone finally gave me a job and the chance to prove myself. I used past work experience in another industry and found ways to relate that to brewing. Sure, no experience will get the door slammed on you often, but someone will bite, you might have to start by washing kegs, but thats part of even a headbrewers work week in many places (brewpubs mainly).

    Keep looking, it works...
    -Beaux

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Polson, Montana, USA
    Posts
    1,090
    The above mentioned programs are worthy (went to A.B.G. myself), to become a brewer, read every book on brewing and homebrewing you can find, seriously. Go to your local micro or brewpub and start at the bottom, learn everything and move up the ladder. This takes a while but you'll learn and understand these things MUCH BETTER than if you learn them in a classroom. Apprentice.
    I know that's old-fashioned, but I believe it to be the best way to become a brewer.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
    Posts
    10
    Right now on my bedside is a stack of books I got out of the library:

    'Brew Ware' by Lutzen & Stevens
    'The Complete Joy of Homebrewing' by we all know who
    'Beer: Tap into the Art and Science of Brewing' by Charles Bamforth
    'Secrets from the Master Brewers' by Higgins, Kilgore, and Hertlein
    'Designing Great Beers' by Ray Daniels

    I've worked my way through the Bamforth book and found it a great introduction to commercial brewing; Nothing my high school chemistry couldn't handle with a little help. The 'Brew Ware' book takes you through building and equiping a home brewery step by step.
    Anybody know any 'must reads' that I should go out and get this very second?

    This Creemore's for you,
    Ben

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Bynum,NC,USA
    Posts
    7
    I recomend that you buy as many books as possible. The ones you have checked out from the library are good, but must be given back. I still reference some of those same books that I purchased 10 years ago. I think of it as building a library that you can reference with any questions.

    Cheers,
    Jeremy

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Hayward, CA, USA
    Posts
    13
    Hi Ben

    I have a Diploma from Siebels and its a great school, but what you learn at brewing school has more to do with the effort, you put into studding. The Class president of my Siebel's class teaches at UC Davis. Find out which school makes most practical sense for you to attend, and go there. I do reccomend that you get as much expirience before you go as possible(it helps to know whats important when a ton of information is dropped in your lap). Good luck!

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