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Thread: What is the value of brew school?

  1. #1
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    What is the value of brew school?

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    What is the value of brew school?
    name Chris Wilson
    email cmwilson9000@aol.com

    I am considering attending one the brewer technology programs, probably the master brewers program at UC Davis. I am getting mixed signals as to its value. I just got out of an interveiw for an entry-level assistant brewers position where the brewer stated that practical is more important to him, but also stated that the industry seems to be shifting toward the formal PLUS some hands on. I am a scientific thinker and I think that I would like the classes, but how important is it to know the information.

    A second question, is one school considered better that another?

  2. #2
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    christopher
    email brownbrewer@yahoo.ca

    I have to agree with the brewer you interviewed with. The practical side shows you how to brew and all the tricks you might use. However I think the course or school side will show you why you do certain things in the brewery.

    I am working in a brewery now as an asssistant brewer learning the craft while on the weekends I am at the library reviewing and researching my notes I jot down at the brewery.

    I think you have to decide which route you are going to take ie: open your own brewery( in which I think just getting some expierence brewing at a microbrewery) or working for another brewery(which the course certificate will help).

    In any case good luck.
    christopher

  3. #3
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    Todd Malloy
    email tmalloy25@hotmail.com


    I would have to say that both school and hands on experience are beneficial for the craft brewer. If I were you, I would begin working at the brewery and then go to school. This is the way I did it, and it was great to have the practicle experience before going to the classroom. Without the practicle experience lots of the information will go right over your head. It doesn't matter how scientific you think, practicle experience is most important. Most of the science will go to the wayside in a craft brewing situation, so let me reiterate, go brew before you go to school.

    Todd

  4. #4
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    Matthew Letki
    email matt@wcc.on.ca

    Hi Chris,

    I would have to agree with what Todd has to say about the subject of brewing school.

    I do have a few points to add however.

    I'm sure that the course at Davis is a great course, but I would DEFINIETLY consider going to a brewing school in Europe or the UK. I did this and then stayed over there working before my return to Canada. It was great and it propelled my career forward by a huge leap. There is definetly something to be said for getting experience in the old world. Also, the courses offered "across the pond" are priced fairly attractively. It's also so much fun to be over there!

    It might be a good idea for you to do a few weeks of free labour for a local microbrewer. If you find a brewer who will take you on for something like this, they might be more inclined to get you involved in lots of different tasks or show you a bunch of stuff as they wouldn't be too worried about getting value for your wages. It may be difficult to find someone though, as most brewers are QUITE busy. Also, brewing is a very intensive job, and it would be better to find out before shelling out for brewing school what the job is actually like. You never know, you might not be cut out for it!

    Best of luck,
    Matt Letki

  5. #5
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    name Ray Mitteldorf
    email dduck@ktc.com

    The major advantage to going to Siebel so far is that all the job offers that I get come from people who call the school to get a list of graduates. I get calls periodically from all parts of the country. I have sent out hundreds and hundreds of resumes and 99% of the time get no reply. I also started my career by getting to know the brewer at my local brewpub and eventually was offered a job as an assistant. It was after that point that I decided to go for a formal brewing education. Jobs are few and far between, but if you have the desire to find a place to brew that fits your style it can happen.
    Good Luck!

  6. #6
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    Smile Education

    I have been reading with a great deal of interest all the comments regarding education, training and brewing jobs. Some great insight has already been provided so far and I have little to add. The point made about learning the science underpinning the processes we carry out in a brewery is extremely valid as is the one regarding practical experience. Brewing in a microbrewery or brewpub is a physical job where a sequence of practical tasks are carried out in a specific order. In a successful small brewery this is done under the supervision of a competent professional with knowledge of the science behind the process. Of course it is preferable if the person carrying out the tasks is also in possession of the facts and theories underlying the processes.
    If I may take a moment to blow my own trumpet, one school, the American Brewers Guild offers a slightly different approach. First the student learns the theory then spends time working in a brewery as an intern as part of the course. The employer gets an employee that has learned the science to the same high standard as the other schools, but also has spent an extended period of time in a working production brewery learning the practical skills.
    I graduated from Heriot-Watt with a degree in Brewing Science 20 yrs ago and really missed out early in my career in small breweries due to a lack of practical training.
    American Brewers Guild
    800 636 1331
    www.abgbrew.com

  7. #7
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    Education & experience

    I entered professional brewing in the early 1980s. At that time the craft brewing movement was rather new, and there were really few legitimate options to learn or gain experience. However, because I had a decent educational basis (BS chemical engineering), a love of beer, and home brewed for several years, it hooked me. We started one of the first craft breweries, and I had brewed for several years before some of the programs discussed herein even came on board. I was amazed by what I learned and felt so much more competent in brewing totally as a result of some of these educational programs. I was one who tried to find out as much as I could, but that approach is inherently limited. It was through some of these various structured professional teaching environments that I made a quantum leap in my understanding. I have since helped start up and run approximately 30-40 other breweries (yes that many), and interviewed hundreds for various brewing positions. Perhaps if one shows a strong desire and a position does not need a critical decision making capability then they could be hired. However, it is simply absurd to think that someone without a decent classical brewing education should be hired for a responsible position. Now which education? There is a generally recognized format or overview for commercial or professional brewing. That should be a given for any creditable institution. There have been programs which do not sufficiently cover this basis, and are generally self-promotion for another purpose. Others may go in depth with certain styles, nuances, or other historical, traditional, or professed advantage. There is certainly nothing wrong with expanding or probing your thought about brewing by delving into the most comprehensive program(s) possible. This most definitely should add to your knowledge base. That is always a benefit, but whether or not it is pertinent for a brewing position is another matter. The nature and depth of any educational program will give a general indication as to the knowledge a person should possess. This certainly should be used for an evaluation. Assuming the best at this point you will then be in a field with many others. The best devised educational program will not mask the shortcomings or other problems a brewer needs to address. Some of the best educational programs have produced incompetent professional brewers even though their education suggested otherwise.
    Will Kemper
    Last edited by wkemper; 10-20-2002 at 10:47 AM.

  8. #8
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    Thumbs up

    Having spent far too long in the same industry, but in ten + breweries, I htink it essential, particularly in a small brewery that you have a reasonable understanding of the theory behind the practical operations. When you need to change something, or when things go wrong, you will then be able to make a better judgement of the implications of what has happened, or you could do. If you consider some of the questions that get asked on this site for example, a basic scientific and microbiological understanding would have saved a lot of time and expense whilst waitng for a reply if nothing else.

    I cannot speak for the Siebel courses, but the Davis institute course lead sto the IGB Associate exam. I honestly believe the minimum someone should have in a technical role as you inevitably are in a micro is the equivalent understanding required by the AME (OK, OK, I know I am biased since I have it, but also consider that is a damned good basis for making the comment)

    The Davis course will also cover engineering basics - how many micros have a separate fully qualified engineer who is practical to boot ??

    Go for it

    Cheers

    Dick

    (PS aplications for next years IGB AME have to be in very soon - see www.IGB.org.uk for details)
    dick

  9. #9
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    What is the value of brew school?

    I wanted to respond to Dick Murton's comments on the the IGB's Associate Membership exam (AME). While I (regrettably) was not able to attend a formal course like the UC Davis program, I prepared for and passed the AME on my own. Although I had 7+ years brewing experience (mostly as a homebrewer), it was invaluable to have a chance to try to pull together all the many topics involved in brewing and relate them to one another.

    I would also have to agree with Mr. Murton's comments about the engineering portion of the exam. I have never seen a more comprehensive, basic set of texts on the engineering of brewing than the IGB's blue books. I often refer to them. Especially if you don't have a lot of money to build/ improve a brewery, you need to be able to think through and understand practical brewery engineering problems with some success. Hit and miss guessing can get expensive when systems are concerned.

    In summary, although I have not had the prevelige of attending a formal brewing program, I got a taste of what this sort of comprehensive study can add to practical experience in preparing for the AME. It's worth it.

  10. #10
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    Cool BREWING SCHOOL

    Hi,

    i saw your posting and would like to offer my views. I'm currently enrolled at Brewlab at the Univ. of Sunderland in England.
    Frankly I'm having a blast. There's plenty of theory and scientific work, but you get to work at a brewery one day a week, so you get a good balance between practical and academic. Many brewers advised me to get some experience in a brewery as well as formal study so I know where your coming from.
    Contact me if you want some more info or Brewlab: www.brewlab.co.uk

    regards,

    Tariq

  11. #11
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    Tariq

    Great to hear accolades for Keith and his team, and perhaps professional training courses in general. Just out of interest, which breweries are you / Brewlab using?
    dick

  12. #12
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    Cool brewerys

    Hi Dick,

    I've been at York and currently at the Darwin Brewery here.
    I'm hoping to go to Wylam's in Hexam ? maybe Mordue's in Northshields ?

    regards,

    Tariq

  13. #13
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    Oct 2002
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    It's all fine,...if your young and single with no kids and are willing to re-locate almost anywhere.
    I went to Seibel and Brewlab and can't find a job. For every "brew-pub"....there's 40 well qualified brewers. I've been brewing professionaly for 14 years and my problem is I don't want to leave California. So I work in construction now. It makes me sick. I guess what I'm trying to say is, before you invest thousands in brew school, do some serious soul serching, and some pratical thinking.
    Where and how do you want to work? brewpub or big brew plant?
    If you can't find work in your area, are you willing to live in piddlepoole Indiana to brew?
    What are brewers making in wage?....is it enough?....hope to get married and have kids or buy a house?
    Do you plan to be a owner/brewmaster?(that's a whole different school ie; restrantour).
    I'll also remind you that for the first several years of your career, you'll barely make a living wage while doing hard labor. Just ask other brewers.
    Most Brewpubs under 1500 bbls. per year are 1 to 3 man operations. With the various schools training at least 100 brewers a year,...you do the math, and you'll see what I mean.

    Again, the economy is in the ditch, and in this market, thanks also to so many excellent schools, is grossly over saturated with over-qualified brewers.
    Last edited by Mr.hops; 07-09-2003 at 11:31 PM.

  14. #14
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    Melbourne, Australia
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    Gidday Chris,

    I am currently just over half-way through a Graduate Certificate of Brewing from the University of Ballarat in Australia (basically the only place around this part of the world to study brewing).

    When I finished my chemical engineering degree I wanted to study brewing.... Instead I decided to go to work at jobs I hated and am now doing the brewing study 6 years later. I don't have a job in brewing yet (but am trying!!). Did I wish I started the study 6 years ago - yes.

    I think if you can get a job in a brewery before hand and study later, that is great. My experience in a micro in Colorado as well as a major brewery here in Australia cemented my passion for brewing.

    I guess you only get one chance in life and if you want to do it, then do it. I procrastinated this long, but now I am loving it. Since the brewing job market is so competitive and there are already that many people with qualifications, why would a reasonably sized micro brewery hire you over others with experience and qualifications? Just something to think about (and I say GO FOR IT!!!).

    Cheers,

    Alex

  15. #15
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    May 2003
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    Long Island, New York
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    Brewing school in preparation for micro startup

    Hello all,

    I am a real estate attorney by necessity and a homebrew aficionado by birth. I hate being an attorney and I love making (and drinking) beer so I have decided to try and make a living doing what I love. I have begun taking preliminary steps to starting a micro on Long Island, New York (but I am a good 1 1/2 to 2 years away).

    I recognize that I have a lot of education before me and started to do it on my own. Naturally I have leared of the brew schools and am curious as to their value. I am specifically interested in the American Brewers Guild correspondence program. Does anyone have any experience with them? Would spending $8,000.00 on their course aid me in preparing for a micro startup?

    Any advice is appreciated.

    CHEERS!

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