Every beer drinker has been there at least once. It’s a great day at the local taproom. Pints are flowing and everything just tastes great. A sense of desire creeps up and the entrepreneurial spirit rises. The idea to open a brewery of your own, or at least work at one, is born.
The next day the feeling might be faded or gone, but if it lingers and grows it might be time to start thinking about formal educational steps.
The Beer Edge covers all aspects of the brewing industry with long-form interviews, keen insight, and expert analysis.
A Career in Beer
For many who start work in the beer industry, there has been a long-established history of first being a homebrewer. Starting out with simple kits that can evolve into near-professional grade equipment, the desire to go pro has existed in the United States since Jack McAuliffe launched New Albion Brewing in California in the 1970s.
Long-time pros will caution against simply going from a homebrew setup to owning a professional operation without first having some practical experience. Making beer is great, but a beer career is more than just recipe development and brewing.
Many breweries will offer internships or apprenticeships that rotate workers through various aspects of the business, often for a week or so at a time. These can be helpful because it introduces other jobs aside from making beer to candidates and might spark an interest in another career inside of beer.
Or you can simply apply for a job, any job, and see where it takes you.
There are benefits to starting at the bottom, cleaning and keg washing, at a local brewery and then rising through the ranks. Finding a brewery that lets employees lean on the job and rewards tenacity and initiative with the chance to learn (and get paid).
If thinking about one day hanging your own shingle, education is going to be important. Classes or full degrees from Siebel’s Institute of Technology, University of California Davis, The American Brewers Guild, and any of the other brewing programs that have popped up at colleges and universities around the country can help create a fuller understanding of all facets of brewing and beer.
Education, especially when it comes during the launch of a second career can be time-consuming and costly, so understanding the commitments in advance and discovering if they work with your lifestyle or personal situation will need to be considered.
Should the day come, and you decide to launch your own brewery, the education should not stop. As a business plan is constructed consider taking business classes, taking time to understand state and local regulations, understanding human resources, and even courses on hospitality.
There is also no beer law that says a brewery owner has to make beer. Beer can be a passion but the making of it can be left to talented individuals. If you have a head for finance or running a font of house or anything else the business can touch aside from the physical making of beer that is also a path to own and run a brewery.
There is going to be a lot of lessons learned in real time and many will be unpleasant but having a proper educational background can help lessen some of the stresses that come with running a small business in the beer industry.