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Full price beer for head brewer

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  • Full price beer for head brewer


    This is my situation. I am a new brewer at a new brew pub. I was only a home brewer before this. None of the owners of the brewery worked in a brewery or knew much about how brewery's work. There are 7 owners some work in the wine industry, some are lawyers, and one is the pub restaurant manager. The day before we opened the manager pulled the head chef and myself aside and told us the rules. Everyone pays full price for beer and we get one 1/2 price meal a day. all the owners/board members pay full price for everything. I was in shock. I brought it up with some of the board member and thought is was bazaar, some sided with some and some not. They made it clear at the next meeting that there will be no free beer because its against the law to give away free beer. I really disagree with the policy and am pretty upset. Am I right to be? What are your brewery policy for drinking beer? How should I go about changing this policy?

    I have been with the company for 6 months now went from 2 beers to start to 11 on tap. Started with 1 FV to now 3. Two FV for double batches. Never had to dump a batch and no injures. I even did consulting for free when they where still in start up. I'm at the point where I can start to distribute kegs out side our pub now. The owners really like me and everyone LOVES the beer. Now the restaurant manager is a hard to deal with (yell 1st think later.. hard to reason with). We went though many head chefs because they couldn't stand her. Her sister is the head bartender and she is a hard headed as well.. they watch the beer like a hawk. It's hard for me because I moved to this small town and there is no where nice to drink other than the pub and I just feel wrong paying for the beer many times embarrassed in front of other customers. I have started to just work my hours and go home (sucks because I live next door) and try not to spend any money there anymore. I enjoy making the beer and interacting with patrons at the bar. I just want to be able to have shift beers at no cost. How do I get the point across that this is normal in the brewery community. Do I try to get the entire staff shift beers?

    Last edited by jcmccoy; 12-23-2014, 04:33 PM.

  • #2
    I would disagree that your request is normal. Not sure what is your compensation is. Hard to judge.


    • #3

      well coming from a restaurant back ground (chef) with that said all most all the places aloud a shift drink after words 1/2 price meals i can see other places i worked at did shift meals nothing special but something small as for the drinks one free shift was the norm 90% i work the only place that didnt was a casino but they regulate everything to the last drop im now the owner and head brewer of a production brewery with a tasting room on the way i will be doing shift drinks after a shift is over we have people help us with the bottleing of beer we have drinks after words and they also get a 6 pack there's an old law that stated if you work in a brewery you were aloud a ration of beer now for the change it seems like you have many chiefs in your teepee some with you some agenst you thats a lot of convinceing to do it sounds like the wine ppl might be on your side but the lawyer types not and the manager if your going throw chefs fast what going to happen is your slow going to get less and less great chefs to work there to the point you have a cheap line cook running stuff and some on else doing the ordering seen it alot
      hows the wait staff doing with all this are they on borad with you or dont they care does
      any of the staff stay for a drink after
      now do you do samplings of new beers how is the staff trained they cant tell ppl about the beers if they dont try them
      with all that said i would talk more with the ppl on your side and see how they feel not trying to take sides but exsplane to them that its a normal thing in the restaurant community
      gett some of the staff togeather with out going over the managers head because that will get you nowhere
      and if all else failes have a beer out of the bright tank in a coffee mug and enjoy the mopping of the floor
      hope this gets you started
      cheers matt


      • #4
        Never had to pay for beer in any pub I have worked in, only one packaging brewery was I expected to pay for beer... but even there we got a punch card with a certain number of comps per month. Every pub I have brewed in fed the brewers a shift meal. Have been in and around the industry since '89

        EDIT: I should clarify that as an assistant brewer, there was A shift beer. As head brewer/brewmaster I have never been expected to pay for beer... with an unwritten caveat that it wasn't to be abused (not getting hammered in the tap room, etc)
        Last edited by wailingguitar; 12-22-2014, 07:00 AM.


        • #5
          Shift Brew/Meals

          We own a restaurant/brewpub where we do our own brewing as well as have a full liquor bar and at least 6 of our own on tap. As for the shift drink, we offer this to our employee's anytime they work, this is not technically "free beer" as a SLA would see it as its part of an EE's compensation package. We also do 1/2 priced meals, this is for the EE and not their family or friends as that gets taken advantage of in a hurry.

          As for getting to sit in my pub and drink beer free, domestic or in house brewed, that will not happen. Being an owner/head brewer I still pay for my meals and my drinks, alabit my 50% off food and full price for drinks. I tend to buy my server's/bartenders drinks or a growler to go quite often. There are still costs to you drinking light beer or in house beer, I understand them not wanting to just supply you an endless supply on their dime. Could you work something into your compensation package, sure you could. This would be the avenue I would recommend taking. We do bonus's and competitions that push them to sell product, not give anything away, promotes quality control and not steal. Compensation is a touchy subject being on the EE side, but free product is just as touchy on the owner's side. Check your local SLA as there are some out there that do not even allow free drinks to EE's. If you know the law and can speak to it with your owner and in a logical fashion, i don't see why they wouldn't want to do something for you.


          • #6
            That's a bummer...I've worked for 2 different brew pubs, one a start up and one that has been open 20+ years. Both give me free lunch and its justifiable since I am usually working while eating lunch...As for beer, I've never felt like I had to ask if its ok. It's part of my job to drink the beer we make for QC purposes. Maybe try and reason with them so you only have to pay the cost to make the beer ($1 per pint?) and not the extra margin.


            • #7
              Just to clarify, I am not sitting at the bar every day drinking 6 pints...I drink about a pint or 2 a week at the bar and take home a few 750 mL bottles...If you were sitting at the bar every Friday getting sloshed, then yea, I would eventually think you would need to pay for that, but with a discount.


              • #8
                Oh my bad I read "I just want to be able to have shit beers at no cost". You meant shift beer!

                Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


                • #9
                  While comping beer is common in the industry, I think you are taking the lack of a free beer a little too personally. If they are pulling the head of food and the head of drink aside to talk about it, my guess is they had an issue with people abusing the system and needed to address it. It's a lot easier to set a blanket policy then to answer questions about why Bob can still get comped.

                  Also, I feel your pain. I work in a brew pub right now that doesn't comp and recently had to crack down on the 1/2 price meal thing as well.


                  • #10
                    13+ years in the industry and as head brewer I have never had to pay for beers. Before I was head brewer 2 free pints others full price.I am allowed to give free beer to whom I wish. Now, with that said its usually a fill the pint up if a customer asks for a tour (sort of my way of saying thanks for being interested). I pay $80 for a 1/2 bbl for my home kegerator.

                    Sounds like you have pent up anger at the manager and bar family member. Sadly it will only get worse and you will remain unhappy there.I would think a owner would be happy to have his brewer there talking up the product giving tours ect. as long as you dont sit and suck down beers and get loud and drunk. If I was you I would look for another job you wont be happy there as long as the current staff stays the same

                    Good Luck
                    Mike Eme


                    • #11
                      Neither our own or any of the bearded brethren pay for beer at our place. Cheers to a healthy debate here!

                      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


                      • #12
                        7 owners? Oy... that's going to be tough to get consensus on.

                        I'm guessing they a) had trouble in the past and so are over-reacting, or b) the partners don't believe they're making as much return on their investment as they should and so they're taking this route, which is pennywise and pound foolish. I'd also hazard a guess that they don't have a handle on their food costs relative to their pricing (a common problem in the restaurant industry.)
                        Kevin Shertz
                        Chester River Brewing Company
                        Chestertown, MD


                        • #13

                          Not only do I not pay for beer at the brewery I work for, I don't often get charged at other breweries I visit either. I feel like this is practice is pretty industry standard and encourages community amongst brewers.

                          Really unfortunate situation you're in, I'd be embarrassed paying for beer there too.


                          • #14
                            OP-Do the owners make the head chef pay to taste the food he's making? One has to be able to perform sensory analysis on the product they are making.

                            I agree that it can be a slippery slope for some if it's abused by the individual.


                            • #15
                              I worked at a "Microbrewery" chain restaurant/brewpub for a few weeks a while back as a server while going back to school. Actually decent beer and good food. They were very particular about how you described the beer, following a script. They were extremely corporate, and didn't even brew on site although they had a few fermenters just for show. Employees were not allowed shift drinks/beers. They were not even allowed to sit at the bar after work, they did get discounted meals on work days and could come in when not working, but it was discouraged.

                              So I took a few days off and went to the GABF with another smaller brewery that I had worked at previously (who actually encouraged shift beers and employee morale). That brewery won a GABF medal, as did the brewery chain that I was currently working at. The smaller brewery was extremely excited and immediately called back home to notify all the staff of the win, it was huge, and we partied down.

                              On the other hand, when I went back to work on Monday at the "Chain" brewery, I mentioned the medal win to the GM. He had no idea, and shrugged it off. Nobody cared, not the bartenders, the bussers, the kitchen staff. Few of them ever drank the beer anyway. I quit a few days later, not just for those reasons, I was moving, thank god.

                              So I guess the question is what kind of place do you want to work in? One where the employees are simply there to make a few bucks and go home? Or one where the employees are a family, who feel invested in the company, care about the product, and celebrate their successes ?

                              Lucky me, I'm back at the smaller brewery now