View Full Version : Over Consumption

02-24-2008, 06:25 PM
Over Consumption

Would anyone care to share employee guidelines for consumption beer/ alcohol / food durring and off duty? What signs should one look for that may indicate a problem. Experience and stories welcome.

02-25-2008, 04:53 AM
Oops I had the wrong idea.

02-25-2008, 07:02 AM
I knew a person that would drink a half rack a day but showed no evidence of intoxication. Never late for work, did fine work, no other appearent problems. I think this is what they call functional alcoholic. However a policy of no drinking before or during work quickly made him decide to find another job.

02-25-2008, 09:34 AM
This is a very touchy subject in most craft breweries, because many small breweries allow consumtion at work. The big breweries have all changed to a no drinking at work policy, and only allow consumtion at taste panel. The big brewery that I worked for actualy made us take a breathalizer test before we could leave the taste room. I believe that you should speak to a lawyer before setting your policy, because of the legal liability involved if an individual causes injury after consuming alcohol while in your employment. Remember that QA in small breweries is mostly determined by the brewers taste and not from lab test. You need to try and minimze the liability to your organization, but control your process at the same time.

What I have pushed for in the past is tasting for quality assurance durring work hours, and no other consumtion allowed.

Good Luck

02-25-2008, 11:37 AM
Having worked at a few breweries, I have been in work environments that were OK with on the job consumption and others where that idea was laughable at best. I personally have to say that after working for both mindsets, I would much rather work for a place with no consumption during work hours. Aside from worries that my own effort would shrink with a few beers, working with people who are drinking on the job all day can be very frustrating and dangerous. Aside from that I think our industry needs to be concerned about the public opinion of brewers. I know I'm bugged when a patron makes an off hand comment about how great it must be to have a job where you can "drink all day". I take my job very seriously and scientifically even though I brew on a smaller pub system, so the thought of looking like some glorified, drunken homebrewer does not sit well with me. To me it doesn't make any sense to have drinking on the job (aside from a half a beer at lunch...to aid digestion), especially if we brewers are to be seen as responsible important members of our community. Just my two cents.

02-25-2008, 10:27 PM
Please don't forget about the ancient custom of the brewer being able to drink the beer he/she brews. Every brewery is unique and should interpret/adapt this custom as appropriate. If it isn't appropriate to drink beer during the shift the brewer should be allowed to consume free after shift and/or take home a certain amount every shift! This is critical to good beer! The small cost to the brewery is well spent as what comes back is priceless! :)

02-26-2008, 02:05 AM
In my much younger years, I made the finest dang mud pies in my neighborhood. Never could sell one, though. If only I had just tasted one, I would have figured out why--they tasted like dirt!
The direction of this thread troubles me greatly. How can one truly call themselves a brew-master if their qualifications are just that they can make a beverage we call beer? Master? Takes more than that. Ever had a beer that you know the brewer either was never allowed to taste or chose not to taste before selling? I trust we all have, and we all know what it tastes like.
Mastery...that means to me that you must be fluent in beer. You must know that tank #12 tastes a bit different than #8 and do your best to know and care why. Your lab may tell you it is within specs at 0.35, but if you rely on your customers to be your sensory panel, they just might "not show up for work" next time. You, the brewer, must be fluent in how your beer tastes and why...not your ex-customers. One of the hugest faults of brewers is that they only drink the favorite of their beers. You need to drink your least favorite, or why should you insult your customers by asking them to pay $5 for something you don't even like? What makes a mediocre brewer is the selling of mediocre beer. An outstanding brewer is not created by degrees or awards, just simply by only selling outstanding beers.
Ever been a beer judge and really liked a sample, but later a full pint was not really enjoyable? Tell me, what failure allowed the brewer let this happen? Where were the lab results on this failure? Can you as a brewer get away with just a lab sample of a batch before selling it? Mediocre..is that good enough to be a master?
Over-consumption? Yes, there must be common sense involved, as with over consumption by paying customers. Is it bad form to be seen drinking on the job? My opinion is the reverse. It is bad form not to drink on the job. Yes, it is bad form to drink to excess or unsafely on the job.
Ultimately, if you don't drink that beer in #12, you won't have a job.

02-26-2008, 04:13 AM
Sampling your beers for QA/QC purposes is not going to intoxicate you...not to mention if you truly have that many samples to taste (enough to be considered "drinking on the job") after the first few samples your ability to discern is shot. I sip my beers every day to make sure everything is on-par but I don't always swallow them (drinking at 8 am doesn't do my stomach well :rolleyes: ). I think its important as brewers that we really differentiate a sample size of one mouthful from "checking FV4" by having half a pint. If QC is truly the brewer's goal then the sampling can not reach the point of "drinking on the job". One other thing I've noticed is that no one has brought up the fact that most breweries use dangerous equipment and chemicals. To mix that with anything close to inebriation I think is extremely irresponsible and horrible for our image as legitimate craftsman in our communities. You wouldn't want to hire a drunken contractor or carpenter, so why would it be OK to employ a drunken brewer or promote drinking on the job no matter the profession? Just my two cents...and just remember you don't have to swallow:D

02-26-2008, 05:11 AM
I think a brewer should always be seen drinking but never drunk!


02-26-2008, 08:02 AM
Monkey, I thought of that after my post, the idea of "operating heavy machinery, et al..." There should be much concern about duties like using packaging equipment and fork lift driving, just as with any job. Perhaps it would be wise to use a .08 BAC standard at work, and for legal reasons: a .08 limit as people leave to drive home from work. This could easily be accomplished just like the highway-if you aren't behaving correctly, time for the breathalyzer. I do prefer more common sense consumption than over use of rules, depends on the employees though.
I just don't agree about swallowing. I believe strongly that some things are well-perceived without swallowing, but your perception of the beer is far superior with the evaluation identical to your consumer.

02-26-2008, 10:20 AM
I agree with Brian on this. At the brewpub when I put a sample on I pour each server (If there 21 which we dont employ any servers under 21) a 4 OZ sample so they know what they are serving. It helps if the server or bartender understands the flavor profile of the beer they are serving. Now that is the server side of things. As for the brewer, I am the brewer so we know where this is going.... No but on a serious note, I agree with the professional outlook also. Kinda a fine line??


02-26-2008, 11:37 AM
sorry if I wasn't clear about my thoughts on sampling the beer and over consumption. When I've worked in breweries where people were drinking, they were DRINKING! When you notice the workers around you are sloppy and drunk it's hard to feel good about being at work. I like moonlight's idea about the .08 rule...sober enough to drive is definitely sober enough to operate brewery equipment and keep up a responsible work pace. But it still concerns me that our industry is looked at like a bunch of drunks. I can understand the thought that the brewer should always be seen with a beer in hand but after work hours where the lazy factor and the danger factor are gone. I think that a brewer should always be seen working or be seen with a beer in hand. I think that when people see both it just reaffirms the public thought that we're all a bunch of drunks. As for needing to swallow a sample to perceive all of a beer's characteristics I just don't buy it. From my own experience of repeatedly tasting the outlet of my filter as I switch between two brands I know that the beer tastes the same when I'm doing my sampling as it does after work in the full pint. Also there are no taste buds anywhere but on the tongue, so there are no flavors to miss by avoiding the throat. Along with the fact that to me tasting the carbonation level only happens in the mouth around the tongue I have a hard time buying the need to swallow. On the other hand I could be completely wrong. I would be interested to see if anyone knows of any literature out there supporting the need to swallow samples to fully perceive it's characteristics. By the way, what an interesting post ...

02-26-2008, 11:40 AM
I was just wondering what any owners or bosses feel about this subject of drinking on the job aside from QC sampling. Is there a divide between the workers and the owners on this one? Just curious

02-26-2008, 12:06 PM
I have to say, if you can't have a pint after cleaning out a hot mashtun or milling in a few thousand pounds of bagged malt what's the point.
But if you can't handle the pint don't have one.
We've all worked with lazy drunks, and it sucks, and they don't last because they can't handle the work load.
16 years in the industry and never a DUI (knock wood), you need to be RESPONSIBLE!
The industry is not looked upon as a bunch of drunks....the drunks are looked upon as drunks....


02-26-2008, 12:20 PM
Well Goose you got me there...I have a pint during every knockout at the end of my brew days. I guess the key is responsibility and respect for co-workers. With that in place I suppose consumption is OK but I'll always be wary of that slippery slope.

02-26-2008, 12:38 PM
Two things:

I remember watching a news magazine, maybe 60 Minutes. Jim Koch was being interviewed, and he had a beer in his hand and was drinking the whole time. The interviewer thought it was wierd, and it was a little strange having him answer between gulps, but I guess he was trying to make a point.

David Lindley sings a song by Frizz Fuller, " A Man can be a Drunk sometimes, but a Drunk can't be a Man."

Everyone needs to be careful, and never make excuses.


02-26-2008, 01:17 PM
I agree with all that drink responsibly ideas and all, and I also believe it has more to do with one's work attitude than anything else. But I still have to mention that .08 legal limit is a political compromise the law makers come up with, not a physiological limit of how much one can hold the his liquor and still perform well!

If memory serve me right, one can find performance impairment at 0.04 BAC. And the sheer relaxation can very well impair one's attention and cause dangerous situations.
And from a taste panel point of view, our flavor sensation and perception change as we become intoxicated... at a much lower level as well.

Of course, most of the good brewers are responsible enough to know their limits and know when not to drink -- the good beer definitely shows that the brewer takes things seriously!

But from the management and organizational level, unless responsible working (drinking) is well established in the company culture, it's probably better not allowing on the job drinking than other wise. Even if we eventually weed out irresponsible workers, a few accidents can cause serious consequences!

02-28-2008, 07:11 PM
Allright, I have been staying away from this one, but I guess I'll chime in. We MUST taste during the process. I taste everything, grain, hops, mash, wort, yeast, first day of fermentation, and so on, right up until I tap a new beer, and quality control on what is comming out of the taps.(after work of course). I do this so I can see where a problem develops, if it does, and trouble shoot from there. Every morning I will run down all of my fermenters, take a gravity sample and taste a mouthfull too. I have 5 fermenters, so its really not that much beer. If you have 30 fermenters, that may be a problem. I also, will have a pint as I'm knocking out, and my tradition is to have a pint of the beer that I am making that day. Its kinda nice, it gives me a full circle kind of feeling. I work in a brewpub, so I will sometimes have a beer with my lunch, that is not "drinking during the day" its having a pint of beer with my lunch. How can I expect my customers to have a beer with lunch, if I cant myself. Our American culture has put a stigma on drinking during the day. As long as it is only one, I see nothing wrong with it.

03-02-2008, 07:22 AM
I am an American craft brewer, husband, father of 2, and all round responsible drinker. I don't drink on the job, I don't egg on "I got so drunk last night I...." stories, and I have built the idea of moderation into my trade philosophy. That being said, when a member of the media comes in to snap my photo, they insist I stand at the helm of my control panel with a giant beer in my hand, like some pirate waving a bottle of rum on the mast of his ship. Customers who pass me sometimes smerk and say, "boy, you have a hard job," or "just doing some sampling, eh?" No matter what I do, I cannot shake the stigma attached to alcohol in this country. In Europe, it is perfectly acceptable to have a beer with luch (which I do at times) or after cleaning the mash tun. If I recall correctly, Saison's were created to refresh the farmers of Belgiam during the workday. Alcohol is just perceived differently here. Unfortunately, there have been too many MADD sponsered Neil Patrick Harris "after school specials" about drunk fathers who beat their kids, and (as funny as it may be) the constant association without separation of alcohol and alcoholics displayed by characters like Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin. If this is all about keeping up appearences, I give up! If it is about enforcing responsibility in the workplace, then amen, brother! Let me just ask you this:

Who would you rather trust on a ladder, leaning over a steaming man-way holding a container of NaOH?
a) The employee who came to work well rested who was just seen taking a sample swig of beer off the filter, or out of the FV to test for quality, or had an 8oz. glass of pilsner with lunch.
b) The groggy hung over employee who would not be seen drinking or sampling at work today, because he was "responsible" enough to drink 10 beers after his shift last night.
c) The tired employee who would NEVER drink at work, even after his shift, but was up all night with his sick child, and feels a bit lightheaded because he hasn't had time to eat lunch today.

If I don't drink iced tea or coffee everyday, I get a headache. I can't function. If I don't eat, I get lightheaded and sloppy. Caffine is a drug, nicotine is drug, and these things are perfectly acceptable in the workplace (or in designated areas of the workplace). In fact, over-indulgence of caffinated drinks is not frowned upon in most work places. Excessive amounts of caffine give some people heart palpitations, and seriously affect the nervous system. Does this affect one's performance at work? An average of 10-12 oz. of beer throughout the day hasn't killed me yet, and I don't think it will in the future.
By the end of the year (if I am consistent) I've consumed an average of 730 beers (imperial pints, of course). That's 912 pints, 1216 bottles, or 114 gallons. That's more than most binge drinkers with d.u.i.'s on their record, and may be in line with most "weekend alcoholics." Am I a person who drinks 2 beers a day responsibly, or am I a person who has a severe problem because I have a draft system in my basement, I am a brewer and I consumed 114 gallons of beer last year? Perception really is reality.

Joe Brewer
03-07-2008, 03:28 PM
Every person and brewery is a little different, a packaging brewery with dozens of employees is going to have to set stricter guidelines than a brewpub with one brewer and a part-time assistant. In today's legal climate I don't think that any larger operation would be wise to let an employee drink any alcoholic beverage on the job except for specific quantities allowed for sensory evaluation, tasting panels, server training and maybe a small glass with lunch. I honestly don't think that any employees should be drinking recreationally while they are performing actual brewery work. I know others disagree with this. An experienced beer evaluator shouldn't have any making an accurate judgment about a beer from just a small sample. When time permits I like to wrap things up early and pour a couple of samples of beer for all of our employees, while they're still on the clock, of our beer, classic imports, or special beers from other breweries in our market. This is a great way to promote beer education and culture. Virtually all breweries have some sort of policy for free or steeply discounted beer for employees which is probably the best way to keep employees loyal to your beer. I definitely agree that brewers should be drinking their own beer, and not just their favorites. I'm very guilty of only keeping our more interesting brews on tap in my garage so I have to bring home bottles of our regular beers (which make up the large majority of our sales) to drink once or twice a week.