In the year 2018, small and independent brewers contributed nearly 26 million barrels to the overall beer market production that year. The turnover this represented was a whopping $27.6 billion, a seven percent increase from the previous year and also a 24.1% market share. This segment of the brewery industry grew despite the downtrend in the beer market overall in 2018. In terms of employment figures, craft brewers took credit for over 150,000 jobs in this year, which is also an increase from the previous year, this time showing a eleven percent growth. Talking about these figures released by the Brewers Association, their chief economist describes small and independent brewers as the “job creators” and “community beacons.”
Clearly, the craft beer segment is thriving, and the number of small breweries opening up stand testament to this fact. If you are an ardent beer lover and you think that a job in this industry is your dream career, there is no better time than right now to make the switch into this industry.
However, before you jump in with both feet, make sure you know the ground realities about a job in this industry. If you are having fond dreams about lounging back in a comfy chair all day sipping various kinds of beer, you may be in for a shock. When you step into the brewing niche, you will most likely start with a job that gets your hands dirty, to put it mildly. In fact, if you intend to set up your own brewery at some point in the future or become a brew master, you want to start right here at the bottom, from where you can get acquainted with brewing from the very basics. One thing that is for sure is that for beer lovers, the ride is sure to be an exciting roller coaster of learning, hard work, and getting an enthralling insight into how this elixir comes into being. The good news here is that four out of five brewers claim that their job is highly satisfying!
The First Step: Educating Yourself
No matter what your career aspiration, it helps when you plan early in life and then ensure that you get the right educational qualifications that will keep you on track to landing a suitable job in the industry. Brewing is no different. So if you are a young student with a plan to make a career in this line, you can get the right credentials from the outset by choosing a course that lays the foundation for this career.
You can complete a general degree in any of these lines to get a foothold in this industry as well:
- Food science
- Food technology
- Chemical engineering
Brewing is one industry where you can qualify yourself at practically every level. You have certification courses that students and older professionals looking to change jobs can take up. These certification courses are also a good way for brewers to upgrade skills or update their knowledge. You will find quite a number of schools offering certification rouses, such as: Auburn University, San Diego State University, California State Polytechnic, Regis University, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Central Michigan University, and many more. There are graduate programs and also post-graduate ones for you to opt for as well.
If you are making a switch from any other line into brewing, there is no need to lose heart because you have quite a few courses available to teach you the ropes from the basics.
No discussion about getting an education for your brewing career can be complete without a quick glimpse into the kind of courses you can choose, so here a few options you can consider:
UC Davis College
At this college, you will find short courses, undergrad and masters courses, certificate programs, and business programs designed for brewery owners in particular. They also have online courses of short duration that you can enroll in to enhance your knowledge and skills from the comfort of your home.
The Siebel Institute of Technology
This institute has educated and trained brewers for over fourteen decades, and their students come from all over the world. You have courses at entry level, intermediate, and advanced levels as well as advanced lectures that can help you update yourself about what is happening in this niche. Pick the right course based on how you see your career here panning out. They even have a course that equips you to start your own brewery.
The American Brewer’s Guild
These courses have been available since 1997, and the main point of interest here is that they offer their most popular craft brewer’s apprenticeship program, or CBA course, as a correspondence course as well. If you are switching to brewing from another line of work and you have to hold your current job while you qualify yourself in this arena, this course makes it possible for you to so.
Oregon State University
With their own advanced brewing research lab, Oregon State is an excellent choice if you want to lay a strong foundation for a brewing career. This university has its own malt house and brewhouse and students get hands- on experience in the whole brewing process from stage one here on a regular basis. If you are not looking for a full- time course, you can also choose the shorter courses or crash courses that are designed to pack in loads of information in a well-designed, short duration program.
There are many other colleges offering undergrad and post grad courses, as well as short term courses, in brewing, and you can choose one in line with the convenience and cost factor.
The Informal Education
When it comes to making a successful brewing career, it is not just what you learn at school that matters. In fact, what you learn hands-on, on the floor of a brewery, may give you a far more comprehensive introduction to this world. That is why it is of utmost importance to get acquainted with this industry in various ways. Attend beer tasting events and beer festivals, and try to get a stint pouring pints at some of these to get a feel for the job and build good contacts.
Learn about beer brewing, and try to create your own home brew so that you know what goes into the actual process of making a really good beer. Keep yourself updated with what’s happening the industry by following a blog or something similar that gives you the latest news. You will also find tons of online courses telling you all about the nuances of brewing. Take a look at these too, to learn tips and tricks to enhance your home brew.
What Kind of Jobs Can You Do?
Before you get any further, you need to have a clear picture of what kind of jobs you can expect to do in the brewing industry. This helps you keep realistic expectations, and at the same time, also enables you to train yourself with the requisite skills that may enhance your choices. For example, if you are trying to set up your own brewery, you may want to start with a certification course on the same and then work at a small microbrewery that is just starting out so that you can see first-hand the challenges they face. If you are keener on managerial posts here, then you could equip yourself with a marketing or finance degree as well that will help you here. If you want to step in as an assistant brewer, then home brewing experience will help you immensely in grabbing a coveted position. In short, you need to know what job options are open to you in order to build the right skill sets.
Within the brewing industry, you can work in the production, packaging, or business sides and get hands-on experience in the making and supply of beer.
Craft breweries often are on the look out for new employees in this side of the business who demonstrate creativity and passion for the job. If you can impress your boss, your career can soar in the production side. Plus, you can experiment with different brews and come up with innovative flavors that customers love.
Another production line job would be sourcing raw materials. This, again, gives you immense scope for learning, as you get to understand how the raw materials need to be gauged for quality, where you source the best materials from, and what challenges arise in getting them to your brewery. All of this can help you immensely if you start your own brewery later or if you progress to a managerial position in future in the procurement side of affairs.
If you are not quite looking at production related roles right now, packaging is also an option for you. Microbreweries usually do their processing and packing in-house and this is where you can come in. As part of this team, you will also get a lot of experience in the brewery maintenance because, typically, the microbreweries do not have too many staff, and you would be doubling up in these roles as well. This could be a valuable input for you in the future if you opt for a managerial role in brewery maintenance or you open your own set up.
As with any business, the brewery business too has a need for managers. Small outfits may have the owner managing the place and employees but even here, he may need an assistant to handle daily nitty gritties. Landing a job like this would give you excellent hands-on experience in managing a brewery with all its challenges. Bigger breweries typically look for management professionals with food and beverage industry exposure to handle the management tasks. There may be a host of areas where you can find a management position – marketing, operations, finance, distribution etc.
Branding the beer is a crucial area of focus too since the craft beer industry is growing at an enormous pace and brewers want to establish their beer as a product worth buying. If you have a marketing qualification and are keen on branding, advertising, promotion activities, this could be your calling. The most important aspect to remember about marketing in the craft beer industry is that you need to make the beer stand out among hundreds of similar products. This requires an understanding of the customer mind set and an appreciation for beer. An ability to gauge what works best with beer drinkers helps a lot in this line. If you can come up with creative ways to brand and market the beer, you are sure to be successful in this niche.
In the marketing side of the business, you may also be the face of the brewery at tasting events or trade shows and seminars. These experiences help you understand how to communicate with end users and industry peers alike and ensure that your beer gets the spotlight it deserves. Of course, this is a job that will also put you in touch with other brewery owner, and give you a chance to get the insider information on what is happening in the industry well before the marketplace comes to know, and that’s the most exciting part of a job in the marketing side.