View Full Version : I "went pro" - eek!

06-30-2006, 08:11 PM
Hello all --

Today I accepted my first head brewing job after several years of homebrewing and working as an assistant brewer! I'm the brewmaster at a 15bbl brewpub, starting in a few weeks. As you know, this is exciting and scary.

Frankly, I don't have all that much experience. I know quite a bit about brewing science (not that there isn't a lot to learn) but am short on practical brewing (I've done a fair amount of assisting, but very part time and never a solo brew!).

The owners of the brewpub put a lot of faith in me and I'm going to show them they made a good decision, but I'm hoping I can use this forum as a resource when I run into trouble or questions. People seem friendly and helpful here and, of course, in the craft beer industry in general.

So.... any advice right off the bat?


06-30-2006, 08:52 PM
Relax, don't worry....

...you know the rest!!! :D

Cheers, Tim

07-01-2006, 04:39 AM
As my mentor told me, "You know how to make great beer. Just go in there and do what you know!" Best of luck to you, it's an exciting day doing your first solo as head brewer :D


07-01-2006, 06:59 AM
I feel one key attribute to being successful in the brewhouse is to prepare one or two steps ahead of your brew. Stage your hoses, weigh hops early, anticipate potential issues. It is MUCH better for you to be waiting for the brew than for the brew to be waiting for you. And as Papa Charlie preaches, RELAX.....etc!
Above all, try to enjoy yourself. Good luck to you.

07-01-2006, 11:45 AM
One thing I make a habit of is to confirm every critical step that you do. If I throw a valve to recirc my mash wort, is the mash wort actually recirculating? Do not assume because you flipped a valve or hit a switch that what you "think" you are doing is actually happening. Over the years, this double-checking routine has saved a potential lost batch or two. I tend to be a bit OCD but I think in the brewery, this is an asset. (as long as you don't take it too far! No sense in checking yourself more than three times!) Oh yeah, and don't get drunk at work. I use a three beer limit (after work, of course!). Sometimes I will have another if I am there for a few hours but the bottom line is when I start to feel it, it is time to go. Nobody likes an intoxicated brewer slobbering all over the place.

Good luck!

Dancing Camel
07-01-2006, 09:39 PM
It should go without saying - Check your thermometers, site gauges, mill setting, check gaskets for leaks, etc.

Going through this process myself, I can say that the worst feeling in the world has got to be cleaning out the mash tun after sewering a batch of barley-tea due to a defective temp reading on the HLT.

Good Luck!


tariq khan
07-02-2006, 07:04 AM
The best possible thing that happened to me 2 days after finishing brewing school was getting chucked in the brewery and asked to get on with it!! I had done a few brews on a 3/4 bbl system and assisted on several brew days in various breweries but didn't have any experience going "solo" on a 10bbl system...
A bit stressful and had a few very long days but I appreciate the experience now....all I had was a rough "brewery operations manual" but I got through it ,no dumped batches and the brewery won "Northeast beer of the year" (U.K.)!

My advice would be to stay calm but allow yourself some time to adapt and maybe some longer hours for the first few weeks, try to think ahead and anticipate any possible problems or delays...(ie malt deliveries while your mashing in !, etc)


Tariq (Dark star Brewery West Sussex,U.K.)

Michael Murphy
07-02-2006, 07:15 AM
Just do what you know, the rest will come. And if you have any questions just ask on probrewer...

07-02-2006, 10:30 AM
For what it's worth, my career timeline looks much like yours, and I am still at it going strong. I love my job, but if you look at my posting history on this site, you will see I had my share of bad days. This site is a great resource, but there will be times when you will encounter new and unusual problems that will have to be nipped in the bud on the fly. The worst thing you can do is to go into "panic mode" in those situations. My first days, I had moments where I thought I was going to poop my pants. My best remedy was to be as prepared as I could be, before going into work (reading, writing out a sequensial list of tasks, etc.). 2 more things, it's ok to second guess yourself on cleanliness. Sometimes a thorough "once over" isn't enough. Learn as much as you can about the chemicals you use (temps to avoid and target, composition, neutralization) and get chummy with your sales rep.. Second, like the guy said, avoid drinking on the job. The brewhouse is a dangerous place, and you need to be sharp and alert. I only say this, because while it seems like common sense, I still had to learn the hard way. Long story short, I realized "lunch beers" aren't for me, and I do my quality control studies after the whistle blows. Good luck, and happy brewing (at least 80% of the time).

07-02-2006, 11:42 AM
Ask questions, stay humble, remember were ya came from.....

I came from the same path as you, probably with even less professional experience than you and have been at it for a lil over 2 years now.

Oh yea, one tiny tidbit....pay your excies taxes on time. They may not say anything if there late, but the fed will come a knockin after 3 or 4 years with an interest tab on the late fees;-)


07-02-2006, 12:31 PM
My best remedy was to be as prepared as I could be, before going into work (reading, writing out a sequensial list of tasks, etc.).

Amen! I found that creating a daily and weekly to-do list helped me tremendously. Be thorough, too. After a few batches you'll get a feel for the time involved, and you'll be able to multitask a bit, too.

Cheers, Tim

07-02-2006, 12:34 PM
This is all good advice and it's great to hear that I'm not the only one who has taken this path. I'm nervous, but the management is very supportive and understands that there will be a learning curve.