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Interesting Conversation on Salaries in the Brewing Industry

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  • Interesting Conversation on Salaries in the Brewing Industry

    An interesting thread on brewery salaries has popped up on Reddit over the weekend. The goal of the post is to create a sort of salary guide for brewers with an increase in salaries for brewers hopefully following. Unfortunately the original post did not ask that responders include their city/state which undoubtedly impacts salary.

    Have thoughts on the reddit thread?

    This post first appeared on

  • #2
    I am amazed at how low most brewery employees get paid. However, with that being said, I am also amazed at how low people are willing to work for just to be employed in the brewing industry!

    I have seen people leave high paying corporate jobs with great benefits just to make minimum wage with no benefits in order to be a “brewer” and work 80+ hours a week.

    Today, when a brewery posts a job they get overwhelmed with applicants willing to pretty much work for free just to be working in the industry. When any business owner experiences this when hiring then they don’t see a real need to offer competitive pay because the labor pool is so large and applicants are willing to have their “passion for brewing” make up for the low pay.

    I wonder if a brewing bubble pop or correction would happen if many of the 6,000+ breweries had to start paying higher wages. I personally believe that a portion of this recent explosive growth in the craft brewing world is partly do to people working at breweries for very little pay. Breweries can get very cheap labor these days for sure and you can really grow an industry off of cheap labor.

    There are microbreweries that also have free labor volunteers to help on bottling days (but hey the brewery will give you a free t-shirt after a days work!) and unpaid interns to do cellar work (won’t pay you anything but you might be able to get your foot in the door and maybe one day you might get a low paying job at a hurry up unpaid intern and clean those kegs for free so that the brewery can expand into new markets with lower labor costs and in turn squeeze out a little bit more of a profit margin that you will never benefit from!).

    I agree that brewery compensation should be increased but as long as we have so many people willing to work for low wages and breweries taking advantage of cheap/free labor I don’t think much will change anytime soon. Maybe after the market continues to get further saturated with breweries and brewery workers get fed up with low pay, perhaps the bubble will pop and what will be left are more of the higher skilled and higher educated brewers and in turn then demand higher compensation.
    Last edited by Catfish002; 02-22-2018, 06:45 PM.


    • #3
      Interesting discussion

      I am in process of opening an 8BBL brewery/taproom in Southern California. I am a solo act right now and need to hire a full staff on a ransacked startup budget. Very interesting to see the complaints of disgruntled staff at other breweries and compare them to some of the more successful area outfits I know.

      I am going to have to post job openings soon. I don't want to kill the project with over-blown salaries and I don't want to cripple it by giving away ownership too quickly.

      Any suggestions?



      • #4
        Pay them fairly to start and give them yearly raises. Make them feel like they have ownership in the company because you are investing in them and want to help them grow as a brewer. Make them feel like they have room to grow and give them opportunities to learn. You shouldn't have to give away equity, but if you want to minimize turnover, make that a 5 year employment perk. Every job I have left in the industry was for more money. The job is the same anywhere else, so keeping your employees engaged in the day to day decisions and empowering them to do their jobs better will go a long way. Like with anything, you get what you pay for.