View Full Version : Volunteering

tariq khan
04-01-2012, 02:15 PM
Hey guys,

Now that the craft beer scene is supposedly booming here in Canada, I'm getting a lot of emails and phone calls from people wanting to volunteer their labour. I'm not too keen on it and neither are my bosses. I'm sure a lot of you are open to hosting volunteers especially those that are owners as well as brewers. I wouldn't mind some opinions. When I started out, I tried volunteering but had no success. The reasons were, health and safety liability issues, one brewer straight up told me that it's a lot of work on his part to let volunteers hang.

Thoughts ?


04-02-2012, 08:14 AM
Welcome to the club, I get 1-2 emails/calls a week regarding this situation. I offer an internship, but I generally only take people who are currently enrolled/accepted or completed a brewing school course. I don't need to take on an intern as far as the workload goes ( I don't complain when I have the extra hands) but I do it to help aspiring professional brewers get some experience and get into the industry. If someone isn't willing to seriously invest their time and money into their career then why should I invest my time in them.

This may sound harsh but there's just too many wannabes out there and many of them don't have a clue. I don't have the time or interest to textbook teach, so they need to be doing that on their own. If they build up a solid base on their courses I find it much easier to walk them through the practical side of the brewing (how to not kill or injury themselves).

For those of you who wish to bash me for only seeking brewing school applicants let me just say that I never graduated from a brewing school like many others in this industry, but I also got into it in 2000. A lot has changed since then, its more competitive and harder (in my opinion) to work your way up and I feel at this time if a brewer wants to make a career and not just a job then having some education can only help.

Just my advice for those looking to get into it in 2012.

As far as the liability goes, have your lawyer draw up a waiver.

04-02-2012, 12:18 PM
Myself being a "volunteer" and now opening my own brewery I can certainly understand the apprehension. I know that volunteering was the single most important step in my soon-to-be brewing career. I will also say that it doesn't have to be one sided. I am an IT professional that donated my time and resources to help them get their information systems shored up while learning the ropes in their Brewery. I now consider them friends and we help each other whenever it's needed. Hell, i'm buying there old stuff as they grow and expand. It's a WIN WIN situation for all parties.

tariq khan
04-07-2012, 09:06 AM
YSBrewer: That's a cool way to get in the business for sure, I'd say it was an interesting barter which benefitted both parties. You got brewery experience and education, your company got IT help. I'd say your situation was very rare though.

Mike: That's awesome you offer an internship, I wish I could have found a situation like that before I went off to Brewlab. I totally agree with you as well about getting an education, Future brewers definitely need to realize that it's more competitive out there now.


04-19-2012, 07:29 PM
The relationship between brewery owner/manager and volunteer has to be one of employer/employee. Your volunteers are just like employees in the sense that you are responsible for their heath and safety and they need the proper training in the relevant things that all brewery employees should be trained.

Things like WHIMIS, safe workplace practices, job hazard awareness, confined space awareness tool handling, personal protective equipment, etc etc. Heck, some larger craft breweries train their employees in ISO 9000 and HACCP.

As such, to administer that sort of training to a volunteer is a significant outlay of time and resources. With that sort of investment it makes sense to have that volunteer on as a paid employee, right?

04-23-2012, 01:38 PM
Hey Tariq, contact volunteerBC.com to get some ideas and tips for enabling volunteers in your brewery.

There's a bit of rigamarole with insurance and WCB, but it DOES pay off. It becomes apparent very quickly who is a red box/blue box worker, and who might become your next employee. You can also coordinate with a volunteer organization as to volunteer work periods, repeat volunteers, etc.

BUT...I'd probably figure out exactly what your volunteer will be able or will NOT be able to do as per your policies BEFORE you get them in. For instance, how many volunteers are forklift certified? Or know their WHMIS? Or OFA?

Vancouver has lots of volunteer associations that can help you figure out what is typical. FWIW, I ended up hiring about 5% of my volunteers. But it was WAY better than reading resumes!

Good Luck!