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Thread: Full price beer for head brewer

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    Conroe , TX
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    285
    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.
    This.

    Every brewery I've worked (or even volunteered at) never charged me for beer. We could generally get a beer whenever we wanted and most of the staff could take home short fills when they were available. I completely understand how some could abuse this privilege, but if/when that happens you either have a talk w/ said abuser and if they don't change, you fire their ass.

    Now that I'm an owner/head brewer of my own place, the idea of charging my brewers is absolutely laughable to me. If they're wanting to take a whole keg or a bunch of our limited stuff home, sure we'll have that conversation and come up w/ a fair (discounted) price depending on our inventory, their position, the quantity they want, etc...but generally speaking our brewers are welcome to have a beer or two after work and/or even take a growler home free of charge. Considering how little most brewers get paid and how hard of work it can be, it's a very inexpensive perk that (IMO at least) should be totally standard.

    And I think the chef analogy is perfect.

  2. #17
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    Jul 2012
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    Conroe , TX
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    And to add, at the very, very least beer should be discounted (once again IMO).

  3. #18
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    Apr 2012
    Location
    Bainbridge Island, WA
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    746
    Yeah. Brewers get paid little enough as it is, free beer is one of the few easy perks to give. And it's Quality Control!

    (Hahahaha, no seriously.)

    How are the beers presenting? Are the staff pouring it properly? Carbonation levels good? Off flavors from lines? Anything you want to change next time around? How are the people around you responding to their beers? All useful information for the back of the house to know.

    Firm rule of no drinking while on shift, really no drunken shenanigans, period. This is a somewhat dangerous industrial job after all, but afterwards the brewery staff should feel welcome to get a pint or two and chat with the regulars. People WANT to talk to the brewers. Often, the brewers have many other, better things to do. This opens the space for customer interaction. Out of that you might get some good feedback to boot.
    Russell Everett
    Co-Founder / Head Brewer
    Bainbridge Island Brewing
    Bainbridge Island, WA

  4. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Redmond (Seattle), Wa
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    357
    I have worked on both end of this. One brewpub gave us beer and food either free or cheap. They are now out of business. Another brewpub chain gave neither free beer or free food and they are very successful. I thought it was odd but it didn't make me want to quit.

    In my brewery, each person gets a shift pint per day, growler fill per week and usually the first bottles of specialty runs. Everything past that is 50% off and on their dime (kegs and bottles are discounted 30%). Low fill bottles are all free to the first folks who grab them. Partial kegs are free to take home and empty. Only FOH servers are allowed to pour the beers and will cut anyone off if needed (luckily we don't have that problem). Managers have the authority to grant "extra rations" when the situation calls for it. All beer is accounted for in the POS as individual tabs. Beer is our only significant income source and we cannot afford to give away a bunch of beer. We are still a young company with lots of debt and are not "rollin' in the dough". 19 staff members drinking unlimited amounts of beer would not be in anyone's best interest if you think that one through. If nothing else, you are creating some potential liability/exposure issues. QC sampling is different and occurs during the work day in small quantity as needed to evaluate. It's a job, not a party. That being said, we find time for more than a pint after work to unwind, complain about the boss (oh wait, that's me) and talk to guests.

    -Beaux

  5. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Keller, TX
    Posts
    94
    If I had to guess at why this became the rule I would guess it is because some of the owners feared the other owners would use the brewpub as a place to take their friends and family to eat and drink for free so a blanket rule was dropped on everybody to avoid conflict. But maybe I'm wrong and they are just being cheap because they know the beer is where they make their money.

    Your post reads like you are unhappy about a lot more than just the shift beer issue. Think about whether you want to put up with the work environment. It might be a dream opportunity to jump from homebrewer to head brewer and moving to another town to brew elsewhere may not be an opportunity but I would really think about how miserable you are at this place. If you are willing to walk away then I'd suggest bringing all of your concerns to the owners and let them either fix the issues or find a new brewer. It's hard to get seven owners to agree on anything but if there's anything they would agree on it's probably going to be avoiding losing the ability to keep the beer flowing.
    DFW Employment Lawyer
    http://kielichlawfirm.com

  6. #21
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    Aug 2014
    Location
    Fort Sill, OK
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    51
    Quote Originally Posted by d_striker View Post
    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.
    A shift beer is very different than a sensory analysis. Let's be fair here.

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    956
    IMHO, you are the first and last stop on quality control. If there only excuse is bc it is illegal, tell them to pay you a beer stipend and write it off as quality control as no one knows more what the beer recipes should taste like more than you. Even if you have to spit the beer out it is vital that a brewer taste the beers that they make to ensure consistency and quality. Unless you have a virtual unlimited budget for a lab, or want to wait until you get feedback from customers.
    Joel Halbleib
    Partner / Zymurgist
    Hive and Barrel Meadery
    6302 Old La Grange Rd
    Crestwood, KY
    www.hiveandbarrel.com

  8. #23
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    Sep 2012
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    Denver, CO
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    Quote Originally Posted by beauxman View Post
    I have worked on both end of this. One brewpub gave us beer and food either free or cheap. They are now out of business. Another brewpub chain gave neither free beer or free food and they are very successful. I thought it was odd but it didn't make me want to quit. . . Beer is our only significant income source and we cannot afford to give away a bunch of beer.
    ^ This thing. You should be glad your management treats the business like an actual business, not their personal kitty. At the end of the day, a brewery is a factory. Lots of people make cool stuff in factories and they don't get the finished products for free. Paying cost or cost +10% would be completely reasonable in any industry.

  9. #24
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    San Francisco
    Posts
    2

    free beer (not the band)

    I gotta tell you after 23 years I've been all over this industry from grunt to owner. I know how much it costs to make beer. Granted not the pile in ingredients until your kettle explodes and the off to the new French oak barrels. Beer is cheap to make. It's a small thing to give away a couple of pints of beer. In other words, at the end of the day if you've given away 35-50 pints for a big crew it ain't gonna break you. We're never gonna get rich doing this, well most of us won't. It's a good cheap way to keep morale high. I understand meals being half off, the food part never seems to make money. Which brings up another point I like to tell management. Especially in a brewpub environment it is usually one or two brewers generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales every year. Kitchens are full of people to crank out the food and labor is always your biggest cost.

    I'm not going to tell your management what to do. It's a tough business and if you're not staying afloat people tend to fire at will on all targets without being rational. I've been there. It sucks. But beer is a great way for people to enjoy where they're at. But by all means, cut off the dude that gets sloppy. Those guys don't work that hard anyway and they are a liability.

    Here's what I do. Disclaimer: this could, I guess, get you busted. For those of you that know me I tend to get away with more than other people. Take two feet of 3/8" tubing attach to a 3/8" to 3/16" reducer, attach about three feet of 3/16" tubing finish it off with that little faucet that's found on the end of hand pumps. Put the 3/8" end on your sample valve on your FV or brite and pour yourself a beer, enjoy. Have one for me.

  10. #25
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    Sep 2012
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    610
    lots of ways to look at this.

    I would like to make a small point. Now i know there is a lot of other factors at play in a business. But.. one of the biggest factors that will lead to success or failure in this industry is beer quality. If you have good beer, you will have a much greater chance of success. If you have bad beer you will have a much greater chance of failure. If you own a brewery, your brewers are the key to your success. As mentioned above, your hired brewing staff is usually only a handful of people that generate all that revenue. I'm not saying giving them free beer will automatically make them happy, but i am saying that making them pay for the beer that they put their blood and sweat into is a good way to make them unhappy. for a pint of beer you are looking at pennies. Its a cheap way to keep them happy.
    Last edited by Junkyard; 12-31-2014 at 05:17 PM.

  11. #26
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    Jul 2012
    Location
    Conroe , TX
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    285
    It's a good cheap way to keep morale high.
    This times a million. And as the head brewer and an owner at our place, I've always thought of having a pint w/ my employees while talking beer as a bonding/team building experience as well.

    But by all means, cut off the dude that gets sloppy. Those guys don't work that hard anyway and they are a liability.
    But this as well.

  12. #27
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Bainbridge Island, WA
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    746
    Quote Originally Posted by john wonder View Post
    Here's what I do. Disclaimer: this could, I guess, get you busted. For those of you that know me I tend to get away with more than other people. Take two feet of 3/8" tubing attach to a 3/8" to 3/16" reducer, attach about three feet of 3/16" tubing finish it off with that little faucet that's found on the end of hand pumps. Put the 3/8" end on your sample valve on your FV or brite and pour yourself a beer, enjoy. Have one for me.
    Ahhh the Ol' Brewer's Tap...
    Russell Everett
    Co-Founder / Head Brewer
    Bainbridge Island Brewing
    Bainbridge Island, WA

  13. #28
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    Sep 2012
    Location
    Denver, CO
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    350
    Quote Originally Posted by john wonder View Post
    Beer is cheap to make.
    That's generally true, per pint, if you just count direct material + direct labor + overhead. But unless you have excess production, you've also got the opportunity cost of not selling the beer for full retail. Free beer gets expensive if you have limited capacity and you give everyone a free shift beer for every shift.

  14. #29
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Portland, ORE
    Posts
    60

    Red face

    Your Head Brewer is part of the management team, right? I don't understand why he/she can't have all the beer they want. I think anyone in brewery management should be able to have some beer when they want it. That's why we all got into this industry! If there's any question it should be if the other team members get free beer. A dollar a beer with the threat of termination if you get sloppy is a great option for restaurant staff. That will cover costs, not be illegal in my state, and give the employee an option to tip when using a credit card, which they must.

    An investor should not get anything free unless they also work at the brewery. You wouldn't let the bank members in your community have free beer so you shouldn't let personal investors acting like banks have the same privilege. If you're wealthy uncle wants to quit his day job and scrub kegs, he can have a couple of shift pints too.

    I also think it's smart to make it policy to ring everything in and comp it. That way the management team can trace the comps every month and hold each other accountable. There will always be one person giving away more free stuff and they should have to explain why, i.e. charity donation, sales meeting, holiday party, etc.

    The brewpub I work in uses 5 gallons of our amber lager every week for cooking. They explain to me that it only costs $6.73 in material and I turn around and say, "That's $161.29 in profit loss!" Isn't it funny how I become the bean counter when it's not me drinking the revenue?

  15. #30
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    Apr 2012
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    Bainbridge Island, WA
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    746
    Quote Originally Posted by nateo View Post
    But unless you have excess production, you've also got the opportunity cost of not selling the beer for full retail. Free beer gets expensive if you have limited capacity and you give everyone a free shift beer for every shift.
    Well yeah, but that's easily solved by Make Enough Beer.

    Seems like any place small enough to be that short on goods would have a staff small enough to mitigate the effect. I suppose I could imagine a brewpub with 200 seats and tons of staff running on a 3bbl or something and constantly being short. But stopping the staff drinking isn't going to solve the larger structural problem. And there remains the separate argument about Brewers vs Waitstaff vs Investors vs Everyone.

    I think, at least around here, that there's a cultural aspect to this too. "Brewers Don't Pay For Pints," is the unwritten law. Visit another brewery and are known, or introduced, to them as a brewer for another brewery? No paying for beer but you do leave a tip for the staff if the opportunity presents itself. Visit another brewery and it's just random waitstaff who don't know you from August Busch IV? You pay for your pint and you tip well. There's no requirement for free beer, and certainly no demanding it, but there is a...presumption. And then there's the 'crew of six shows up and has eighteen pints' vs 'I show up and have one or two.' Ah the complexities of the social norms of the beer world.

    One thing that hasn't been brought up yet is the fact that shift pints are technically income from the IRS's standpoint. So records should be kept for that reason, if not any other.
    Russell Everett
    Co-Founder / Head Brewer
    Bainbridge Island Brewing
    Bainbridge Island, WA

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