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Thread: Why Did You Choose The Brewing Industry??

  1. #1
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    Apr 2005
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    Lightbulb Why Did You Choose The Brewing Industry??

    Hello all! This question is for all professional brewers or retired brewers- Why this industry?

    The reason I am asking is this: I am looking to hire a head brewer for the first time in my career. I am absolutely fascinated at the employment and educational backgrounds that most brewers have. I also noticed that there are quite a few brewers that get out of the industry for short periods and am curious as to why that is.

    This is not really a professional question- more of a personal curiosity. i understand the love of beer and perhaps thinking over the 2nd pitcher of beer that this would be a "way cool" profession to get into All joking aside- why this industry? why this profession? do you love it? are you trying to get out? Is it what you had hoped?

    Thanks so much!
    If anyone wants to email me please feel free
    allison_y@sbcglobal.net or
    halfpintincoz@hotmail.com (I was living in Cozumel)

  2. #2
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    Feb 2004
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    Dexter, MI USA
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    Hello Allison!

    For me, brewing in a small craft brewery is the most (or at least one of the most) fulfilling careers I can think of.

    It is a near perfect blend of science, craft and art. On some level, if you don't understand the underlying science behind making quality beer, you will be limited in your development and ability to create fantastic beers day after day. With the history of brewing stretching over 7,000 years, and new research constantly coming out, you could learn something new about beer everyday for the rest of your life. Brewing beer day in and out becomes very craft-like, as you work to perfect the details of creating the same beers using a continually shifting set ingredients and conditions. Beer is a live agricultural foodstuff, there are things you can control, and things you can't. A good brewer tries to learn the difference, and make the best possible beer every time. Then the art. An accomplished brewer blends the science, and craft, and elevates them into an art. Creating a creature of beauty, that can bring wonder and joy into the lives of all it touches. Sometimes the magic is there, sometimes it is not. The brewer for whom it is more often there, becomes the artist. In a nutshell, that is why I am a brewer. Its just what I do.

    As for brewers leaving the industry, that's a big question with as many answers as brewers. Craft brewing can be intensely physical, with long hours, and often inadequate pay. Some brewers just wear out so to speak. The aching backs, the low pay, management that often has very different priorities than your average brewer. Management, especially in brewpubs, sometimes doesn't understand exactly what a good brewer does, needs, and can offer, and this can lead to disagreements and brewer dissatisfaction. (This can of course go both ways with many brewers not completely grasping the bigger picture of restaurant operations, and where they fit in.) Hubris or the primadona complex, often seen in brewers, rock stars, and celebrities of all walks, has also reared it's ugly head to the detriment of more than one career.

    In many fields the easiest way to quickly raise your salary is to move from job to job, and you do see many brewers (and even more chefs) doing this as they look for higher pay, and greater job satisfaction / management relations.

    I hope I didn't go on too long, or offend any delicate sensibilities,

    Aloha,
    Ron

  3. #3
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    Apr 2005
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    California, Bay Area
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    Thumbs up Thanks for the response

    Thanks Ron- and to all of you that have sent me emails.

    Each day I am learning a little bit more about the brewing industry. I have decided NOT to try and learn the process or the science of brewing ( I don't have 20 years) but to learn about the people within the industry, the basics of this craft and some of the ins and outs of the business. Every email, every conversation, every web site searched - sheds a little more light and evokes all the more questions.

    I am beginning to see that brewers are not give the credit or respect that they truly deserve. I do not doubt that in years to come head brewers will be looked to within the food and beverage industry and given the well earned respect that many head chefs are awarded.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
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    64
    Excellent questions Allison,...Exquisite post Ron.
    I originally fell in love with the complex, clean shining equipment.....the smells of the barley and hops and yes, the incredible flavors of the beers it produced.
    But soon, so much more than that, natural chemistry in the process, the meld of dicipline and intution. The wonderful history and especially the comeraderie and respect I get from my fellow brewers everywhere I go in the world.And yes, sometimes ALOT of fun.
    But to be sure, I have few illusions left...there have been great "dissapointments"...moments of dark doubt. Such is bussiness with humans.

    Yet few things I have done for a living give the almost instant return of satisfaction as when a customer tells me "I think this is the most delicious beer I've ever tasted"......much less when a gold medal for one of your beers gets put around your neck in front hundreds of fellow brewers.

    Most of all for me though, it's about the brewing.
    A spotless shining brewery.
    Up early in the morning starting the brew, mashing in...that's where I'm happiest .
    That's where I know I belong.
    I hope to do it all my days.

    (strike syphony strings here...fade to credits)

  5. #5
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    Apr 2005
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    California, Bay Area
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    love it!!! especially the symphony strings!

    I have had many responses regarding the kinship that this industry creates. It is obvious within this website alone.

    I find it truly amazing that a brewer can post a question regarding a recipe, formula or really anything and receive such insightful and helpful responses. Where chefs seem to keep their recipes a HUGE secret - almost like magicians, brewers, for the most part appear to be eager to help their "brother" brewer (or sister...)

    As for the illusions that are dispelled with experience, I can only hope and imagine that brewers can sit back at the end of their day and know that they are right where they want to be. I know not every day, but the majority of days... I work on the upwards of 70 hours per week but love every minute of it. When that stops being the norm I am packing up and heading back to a Carribean town to dive my days away and sip on beers!

  6. #6
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    Dec 2004
    Location
    Pennsylvania
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    63

    Easy Answer

    Family tradition... 5th generation

  7. #7
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    Oct 2002
    Location
    Upland, CA, USA
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    For me, I fell in love with it while I was studying for the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) and took a study break at a friends house that was brewing a batch of homebrew.

    There it was in front of me: The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing. I read it and saw all those science concepts I'd been studying applied in an extremely practical manner. What a concept: being a very serious scientist, and making something truly great from natural materials that most people in this country love.

    I also feel a real comraderie with my fellow brewers and feel priveleged to be part of a trade that is thousands of years old.

    Like most others, I became disillusioned for a while and dropped out. I regretted it after about 3 months sitting in a nice air conditioned office in a pharmaceutical plant, and dreamed of going back to brewing.

    By the way: my Father grew up in Cozumel. I've been diving there since I was 14!
    Steve G

  8. #8
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    Nov 2002
    Location
    Vancouver, B.C. Canada
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    212

    Cool brewing industry

    Most brewers (including myself) cannot work in "normal occupations"....I'd rather dig out a mash tun than sit in an office any day!!!! (but that's me!)
    Also brewing is quite taxing mentally and physically so working for the right company is important.

    By the way is it my imagination or are there a lot of Brewer/Drummers out there? I've met a bunch!!!

    cheers!

    Tariq

    Brighton,UK

  9. #9
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    Feb 2004
    Location
    Black Mountain
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    Brewer Drummers

    well Im not specifically a drummer I DO have a degree in music.(and I did play the timpani in HS and college orchestra)

    I fell in love with making beer while in college. Eventually, when people were sucking my 5 gal corny kegs dry on a regular basis, way faster than I could make, I thought "wow Ive reaslly got something here"

    A homebrew competition win sealed the deal, and my entire senior year was spent mainly writing the brewery business plan and hanging out with the local brewers. Its now TWO YEARS after graduation, and YES we finally made and sold beer, with a whoooole lot of help from people on this very site.

    You are right to see something unique about all brewers, I believe I have joined a collective family that extends beyond all borders and knows only the language of good taste. We are all competitors in a very tight market, yet there is a vast mutual respect and willingness to help each other.

    There is a reason Beer was invented side by side with civilization itsself. Im not exactly sure what the reason is, but it is good.

    I just want to say thanks to all ya'll out there that made this possible for us! And good luck Allison with your project.
    Dave

  10. #10
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    Apr 2005
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    California, Bay Area
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    Smile

    Thanks to all of those that have posted such great replies- and also to those that sent me emails.

    To Tariq Khan- I did not know what to think when you asked the question regarding Brewers/Drummers- I thought "what the bloody heck is a drummer?" I immediately grabbed my beer books that I have started to collect and looked at all of the indexes trying to broaden my lingo- Thank goodness for David's first sentance... "Ohhhh... he meant drummer drummer" I am a dork- I know.

    I really want to say that I am so grateful for the warm responses regarding this business endeavor. I am anxious to find the right brewer for this project. I already have a true appreciation for this craft and admiration for the people that make it all happen.

    Steveg- since the age of 14? I spent two years down in Cozumel - 300+ dives- splendid toad fish's are still my favorite!

  11. #11
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    Apr 2004
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    Hastings, MI, USA
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    Great thread here, and I'm going to add my brief synopsis....

    I started out as a homebrewer back in '95 -- and when I took a best of show with the first all-grain beer I ever made, entered in my first competition, I was hooked on the art/science of brewing beer.

    I continued homebrewing and entering competitions to garner feedback on my techniques and then found a position as an assistant brewer in a newly forming brewpub. I loved my work, felt better than I ever had (physically and mentally), then got married. I left the brewing industry to make more money (the in-laws decided I'd never make enough to support a family on as a brewer), so I got into IT/IS work.

    My physical health deteriorated, my mental health went down the tubes and eventually, 5 years later, the inevitable divorce and unemployment. It was a clear sign from the heavens that I was to go back into brewing.

    It's my love, my passion, my craft. Once again, my overall well-being has improved, I'm loving my work and all is well with the world.

    In a nutshell, I'm in the craft because it's what I believe I was put on this earth to do, and it's my duty. That is reflected in how happy I am now. Brewing isn't a older man's craft (I'm 41), but with the grace of god, as St. Columbanus stated, "It is my design to die in the brew-house; let ale be placed to my mouth when I am expiring so that when the choir of angels come they may say: 'Be God propitious to this drinker.'"

    Oh, and I'm a drummer too.

  12. #12
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    Jan 2004
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    Redmond (Seattle), Wa
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    364
    I agree with the reasons so very well stated. It is a life style choice and I too was tempted by IT/IS and my degree, but upon graduation, chose to brew. Has been over four years and I am in for the long haul. I am brewing in Microsoft land and watch these computer guys come in and tell me how much they wish they had my job! Hows that for confirmation on my career choice!

    PS. I am not a drummer, but SCUBA is my other passion. I bet there are plenty of SCUBA brewers too. Cozumel, great diving, went two years ago.....ready to go back.

    -Beaux

  13. #13
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    Oct 2004
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    I'm mostly just lurking around here since I have a lot of learning to do, but I had to reply to this post just to say that I'm a drummer and a brewer, neither professionally (yet).

    Paul

  14. #14
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    Dec 2004
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    33
    I got into the field after seeing a blurb on Brewmaster in a book called Unique Careers and knew that was for me. After lucking into a full time brewing job for a few years I went to a brewing program which was excellent scientific background for my practical skills. I've been at this for nine years and I love and hate this industry.

    I love brewing largely because I am always learning and being metally stimulated. When I know it all, that is when it will get boring, and there is always something to learn. I am a better brewer then I was three years ago as well as three months ago. Whether it is learning on the scientific, artistic, technical or historical levels, there is so much to this noble beverage. I love making something tangible, that I can see and enjoy. I like seeing people enjoying my work.

    I hate that the pay is rather low for the work and responsibility. I understand some of the resaons for this but it still bugs me. I don't like stupid hippie stoner brewers who think they are gods gift to brewing because they can dump a ton of hops in a beer or brew with hemp seed or other wierd ingredients. Our total lack of standards in this country in regards to brewing is both a postive and a negative. Great beers are brewed with our freewheeling American can-do attitude. We are pushing limits, creating new flavors and we have an exciting diversity of products which is representive of the diversity of our nation as a whole. But we still have huge consistency issues in regards to beers. Some are well made while others less so. The quality on the whole can always been improved and it bothers me when some people are not concerned with improvement and take a lax attitude on their beers, as it drags me down a bit being associated with them.

    Just a few thoughts, but my personal stimulation far offsets the low pay and other minor negatives .

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Delaware
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    Give a man a beer, he'll waste an hour. Teach a man to brew, he'll
    waste a lifetime. (forgive the cliché, however it seemed fitting) -Lex
    Brewers enjoy working to make beer as much as drinking beer instead of working. -Harold Rudolph

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