View Full Version : what shift does a head brewer work?

06-02-2011, 03:47 AM
I am the head brewer of a 15,000-20,000 bbl a year brewery. We are growing quite rapidly these days. I have been with the company 7 years. I started bottling and kegging. In my first year I worked my way into a position as one of the brewers. I worked my way up to head brewer about 3 years ago. The head brewer before me worked a 9-5ish type shift. As head brewer I have worked a heck of a lot more than that. Last year at this time things had settled in to my liking. My brew shift was 7am until 1pm. I then had a couple of hours to look at the fermentations and plan my yeast ect. I now have a new boss and my responsibilities have increased. I manage yeast and fermentations, all raw materials, all chemical, over see QA/QC, product development. I am expected to do this wile being one of only 2 who produce wort. Often my brew shift is 10am-10pm or 12pm -12am or 9am until 7 or 8pm. I do all the dry hopping and often have come in on the weekend to do it. Rarely is there a day that I donít walk through the brewery. I am wondering what shift other head brewers of breweries our size work? I watch my boss work 8:30am until 5pm and miss the good old days of having a more normal life. With how things are configured right now it would not be a reasonable possibility for a brewer to take a vacation. I am thinking I need to sit down and have a serous talk with my new boss, but would like to make sure I am reasonably in line with what goes on at other breweries.

06-02-2011, 04:21 AM
It sounds to me like you definitely need to talk to your boss. Besides not being able to take time off, what if - God forbid - something happened to one of the brewers? The operation would come to a screeching halt while your boss is in a frenzy finding a replacement. The situation you're in seems like a backup situation if something happened that lead to a brewer's position being empty. If 6-7 day/week, 12 hr shifts is the owner's answer to make $ during year round normal operation, then some other area is being mismanaged. I can see doing this during the first few years of being open, but for a brewery of your output and age, it just seems miserly.

06-02-2011, 04:49 AM
Just wanted to clarify. My week is 50-60 hours. The other brewer is about 50 hours. The other brewer works 4-5 days and I work 5 days with weekend fermentation checks and dry hopping. A year ago we had 3 brewers and things just worked better...

06-02-2011, 07:57 AM
I'd say you obviously need to hire another brewer, as well as a cellar man probably. That situation sounds frustrating. My experience brewing on that same level was quite a bit different. We had a 30 bbl brewhouse, and would typically brew 90-120 bbls in a day, about 4-5 days a week. Someone was in everyday to do grav/temp checks and yeast drops, and that was always a brewer as we were the only ones on salary. We had a head brewer, two shift brewers, and one dedicated cellar/QC guy. For the most part the head brewer didn't brew at all unless to fill in because of vacation or if it was a huge week. First shift was 6-2, second shift was 1:30-9:30. The head brewer was generally in about 8-5. We all worked about 45 hours a week, and were in about 6 days a week with one being a short 2 hour day to check gravs/temps and do yeast drops. Was hard work but wasn't overbearing.

06-03-2011, 07:12 AM
It unfortunately sounds like you about to enter the adversarial phase of your relationship with your boss.

It sounds like your boss has allowed a precarious situation to develop in terms of stability of production. 20 000bbl from two dedicated brewers is sparse to say the least. He/she is as responsible for your current situation as you are.

Him/her for not understanding their resource set (including humans) and being too demanding and you for the inability to say no.

Saying 'no' is a learned skill. It is the most difficult word to utter in a work environment.



06-03-2011, 09:43 AM

Liam is correct, and the situation is not your fault, but you are the one who is most at risk. I have been in many situations were my boss and I had major disagreements and only a few worked out well. Be careful you need to convince your boss it is in the best interest of the brewery to have at least one more brewer. I have worked at a profitable brewery that produced 20,000 bbl with three brewers a cellar man, and a lab person that helped with the cellars.

Remember that your boss's personality will have a huge affect on the out come of your discussions.

Good Luck


06-03-2011, 10:44 AM
I'm very close to your situation. Head Brewer, 30,000 Bbl/year regional, worked my way up etc. We run a staff of 4 brewers plus myself. One shift is generally 9-5 cellaring only with morning brewer being 6 AM - 2 PM, night brewer 4 PM - 2 AM and the gap guy covering the brew from 2 PM - 4 PM then finishing filtrations and tank cleaning. I'm responsible for recipe maintenance, physical QC, safety, record keeping and filling in where needed. When a brewer is on vacation I cover the 9-5 filter shift and if it's not the 9-5 guy on vacation, he covers the vacationer's shift. We rotate weekend duties between the 5 of us. Sounds pretty stable, right? I still regularly work 50+ hours on salary and the brewers have racked up over 250 hours of OT through now for 2011. So I feel pretty comfortable in saying you are overworked and under staffed. Good luck with the boss.

06-04-2011, 07:28 AM
Yep, you're understaffed, need to document how many man-hours you and the other brewer are putting in, and make a compelling case for hiring a new guy to take up some of the excess!

My last brewing job (jeeze, 12 years ago!) was like that, and I burned out so bad that I'm STILL a "former brewer"! It seriously took me over a year to recover and feel normal after I quit...