Expert Topic Beyond Brewing Courses to Further a Career in Beer

Photo by John Holl

Brewers, by trade, are a curious lot. It takes a certain kind of scientific, mechanical, and creative mind to create lagers and ales of distinction. From the earliest days of a career in brewing, education plays a critical role.

Siebel Institute of Technology logo
Learning and Development featured expert topic supported by Siebel Institute of Technology

For over 140 years, the Siebel Institute of Technology has attracted an extensive global following. Our alumni span more than 60 countries and are found in almost every major brewery on earth. Our on-campus classes include a mix of participants from breweries of all sizes who hail from locations all over the world, enhancing our student’s learning experience by exposing them to differences in culture, equipment, methods and beer styles.

Over time, many brewers will continue on with their education, focusing on brewing science. There are many options for continuing education certificates and degrees, seminars, lectures, and creative workshops all around beer.

However, there is also an opportunity to grow a beer career by focusing on non-brewing related pursuits. Being well rounded in other areas can help the beer, customer experience, business, and scratch that itch of personal betterment.

All About Beer editor and ProBrewer contributor John Holl asked brewing professionals to share their thoughts on what their peers should be focused on – beyond beer – to help better their career. The answers were varied and insightful.

“Here’s an education recommendation most won’t think of,” said Wayne Millard. “Having brewed beer and also working with rotating equipment in heavy industry for 30 years, I think a bearing fundamentals class would be useful. Most of these cover bearing installation, bearing removal, lubrication basics, bearing failure analysis etc. These skills could be applied to pumps, motors, centrifuges, grain mills, and more.”

To quote Fletch: “Hey! It’s all ball bearings nowadays.”

“With complete sincerity, I think a few years in a soulless cubicle job does wonders for both perspective and gratitude and how to communicate in what is often not a very “corporate” environment,” says Jonathan Moxey of Rockwell Beer Co.

Brewer Thomas Vincent says that professional classes in welding or HVAC would be important. He says he’s considered both for practical brewery applications, but it could also be a career to fall back on if brewing becomes a bummer. Basic electrical classes can also be a benefit.

Matt Bechtold echoes the importance of sanitary stainless welding classes. “Let’s face it, brewing is a jack of all trades sort of job,” he says. “And I do mean trades.”

Adding to that, Deb Carey, the co-founder of New Glarus Brewing says “plumbing, electrical, refrigeration, boiler certification, welding, accounting, economics, human resources, and leadership training” can all benefit brewers looking to expand their craft.

Kim Sturdavant, the creator of the Brut IPA recommends 6 sigma, a “method that provides organizations tools to improve the capability of their business processes.”

Sturdavant says it seems to be pretty relevant “to formalize trouble shooting, and quality control, plus Good Manufacturing Practice certification for general plant compliance with FDA standards.”

He also suggests Project Management certifications; PMP (Project Management Professional), PSM or CSM (Professional Scrum Master, Certified Scrum Master) for improving the ability to lead and organize your operations, and Product Owner certifications (there are lots) for developing, monitoring, and managing products.

Brewer Eric Alan Clarke Sørensen says the Enology courses at UC Davis helps in a variety of ways since many brewers are crossing boundaries between different beverages.

“Personally, I was comfortable with moving into barrel aging beer after working as a winemaker,” he says noting that business management courses help in so many aspects. “Chemistry, microbiology, brewery engineering & TQM were covered in brewing school but I also took advantage of MBAA offering a HACCP certification.”

On the science front Ashton Lewis recommends courses on “Business fundamentals, food microbiology, practical engineering, and stats-based sensory science.”

Adam Mills says he is a big believer in developing leadership skills. “That goes hand in hand with communication skills and character development,” he says.

Brewer Kyle Kohlmorgen looks to ingredients and fundamentals for further education. “Micro lab training can be useful for yeast management, lab careers, cellar management, and more,” he says.

Taking courses in Excel is helpful, he says, for brewers that want to get into management that involves scheduling and purchasing.

“Almost everyone can benefit from a project and people management: safety, labor law, and ‘people skills’ classes like negotiation, project management, effective leadership,” he says.

To top