Photo Cred: Ian Steele
This post, with this title, has probably been typed into Google a thousand times a day for the last ten years. Tons of people want to work in craft beer (myself included), but not everybody gets the privilege and the honor. Having been in the industry a few years now, I have some strong ideas on what does and does not make the cut, and what a person should or should not do in order to get on their way to such a sought-after career.
Depending where you apply, brewing experience may not be the only criteria. Most production breweries at this point require 2+ years beverage experience before they’ll even meet with you, but that doesn’t mean your dreams are dashed. It just means start elsewhere, in any capacity of the beer industry. Personally, what I need to see out of somebody who is attempting to learn the craft is an indelible work ethic and a strong tolerance (bordering on enjoyment) for discomfort. Brewing beer means standing over hundreds of gallons of boiling liquid in the dog days of summer with no air conditioning, sweating through shirts and scraping off layers of sugar/grain dust off of your arms. It means climbing into a hot, wet mash tun at mash-out to remove the false bottom and clean any grain that made its way underneath. It’s stirring a thick mash by hand when necessary, and pushing out an extra five minutes of vigorous paddling when you already hit your physical limit ten minutes ago.
Homebrew experience is fantastic and should absolutely be a part of your portfolio, but homebrewing should be seen for what it is- a hobby. The knowledge and resourcefulness a person gains by taking on this noble craft in the home setting is invaluable- homebrewing breeds a type of self-sufficiency that other hobbies just don’t. That’s because brewers want to get it done by any means necessary. If you’re really serious about a career in craft beer, make sure you know what you’re talking about, and make sure you can keep up with the physical demands. Your average brewer finds comfort in the discomfort and wouldn’t want to live or work any other way. That’s what needs to come across in a new hire- the rest can be taught.