The Brewers Association reported that, as of March 2015, craftbrewers provided an estimated 150,000 jobs (including serving jobs in brewpubs) in the United States. Brewers work for large and small breweries throughout the country. They may start and run their own microbreweries or brewpubs, or work as brewing supervisors, brewmasters, or brewing directors for other breweries. They may also work as freelance consultants for brewing operations.
The best career path for an aspiring craftbrewer is to begin as a homebrewer, learning the basic methods and science of brewing and possibly developing a personal style. Until recently, many brewers still learned the trade through hands-on experience as an apprentice at a microbrewery or brewpub. Although this is still an option, an increasing number of brewers are completing formal postsecondary training, making the market more competitive. Due to the recent renaissance in American brewing, employers are looking to hire highly qualified brewers who will not require years of on-the-job-training but can immediately begin producing quality beers. An added benefit of getting postsecondary training is the job placement assistance any respected school provides to its graduates.
Currently, however, there are not enough trained craftbrewers to fill the demand, so many breweries still employ apprentices who have some experience in brewing—generally as homebrewers. Apprentices may spend several years learning the craft from a masterbrewer. They usually begin by sanitizing brewing vessels, preparing ingredients for the masterbrewer, and doing some administrative work, all the while taking notes and observing brewing techniques. Breweries looking for trained craftbrewers often post job openings at brewing schools or advertise on industry-related Web sites and in trade magazines or local papers. There are many beer festivals and homebrewing contests where breweries—particularly new breweries—seek out the brewers of winning beers and offer them work.
Brewers advance as the popularity of their beer increases and continual sales are made. Most microbreweries and brewpubs are led by the so-called masterbrewer (often the one who developed the recipe), and depending on the size of the brewery, there may be general brewers who help in the brewing process. After demonstrating resourcefulness in technique, or after developing a successful beer recipe on their own, these general brewers may advance to masterbrewer at the brewery where they work, or they may transfer to become masterbrewer at a different brewery. Their work will still be the same, but as masterbrewer, they will be able to relegate work to others and earn a larger salary. After an approximate two-year period of learning the brewing process, an apprentice will advance to become a general brewer or even masterbrewer.
Most brewers are content to remain masterbrewer of a microbrewery or brewpub, but some may advance to management positions if the opportunity arises. Brewery managers are responsible for the day-to-day operations of a brewery, including managing finances, marketing, and hiring employees. Many microbreweries are operated by a small staff, and advancement for brewers may simply mean increasing brewery output and doing good business. A few masterbrewers open their own microbreweries.
Tips for Entry
If you are 21 years of age or older, try brewing your own beer. Learn as much as possible about the types of beer and the brewing process.
Read publications such as Zymurgy to learn about trends in the industry and potential employers.
Visit https://www.abgbrew.com/index.php/employment?/employment.htm#.Xbn1ltVOnD4 for job-search assistance.
Attend conventions and beer festivals to learn more about the industry.
Conduct information interviews with brewers and ask them for advice on preparing for the field.