I am finishing up a my BS in biology and have a strong emphasis in microbiology. I am looking at grad schools and am wondering what types of background that the staff microbiologists at breweries have. Any advice or leads that I might be able to talk to would be great. I am on my way to being a solid homebrewer and I feel like brewing might be a decent way to scratch out a living as a scientist.
as a bacteriologist and a brewer I feel as though my comments may be revant here. I am actually finishing up my degree in bacteriology in the next five weeks and can full heartedly assure you that you are on the right path. most QA departments work with people who are in fact biologists i.e. - you're on your way. many of these biologists are from a university but oddly enough many only attend a tech college or even a short program at siebel for micro. utilizing your biology/microbio background in conjunction with a course from either siebel, UC-Davis, American brewer's guild or any of the european schools such as weihenstephan, VLB, or heriott-watt will further ensure your success as a brewer.
The biggest thing you need to stay current with, is practical brewing expirence. You'll need to do this mainly because if you get all of this education and no practical expirence - what good are you? many so-called brewers actually go through the whole education process but havent gone through the grunt work of being a brewer. you can imagine the dismay a graduate student or even phd-Ing braumiester has with actually cleaning some of the components of brewing. I'm not saying they all are like that but there are a select few as in every occupation that somehow slip by.
I would stay your course of bio/micro and continue homebrewing, but i'd also attempt to get into a local brewery and become a 'grunt.' this will ensure your success down the road because you will be well-rounded and that is what it is all about.
finally, make beer that you enjoy. the rest will work itself out. if you need any other help - let me know. good luck.
That is good advice. I am at the point in my education where hearing "you are on the right track" is damned helpful. I think I will email some of the breweries around Denver to see if they need a keg washer or something. I am not afraid of crap work. I do that in a virology lab right now anyway. Thanks!