Education and Training Requirements

High School

In today's competitive job market, aspiring brewers will need a high school diploma to land a job that offers growth possibilities, a good salary, and challenges, including positions in the craftbrewing industry.

High school classes in biology, chemistry, and mathematics will be particularly useful if you are interested in becoming a brewer. Classes in biochemistry and microbiology will prepare you for the more specialized aspects of brewing that serious craftbrewers must master. A background in science and mathematics is needed for brewers to perform basic brewing and engineering calculations and to follow technical discussions on brewing topics. Classes in family and consumer science can teach you basic kitchen skills, common units of cooking measurement, and the organizational skills you need to prepare and complete complex recipes. If you are interested in running your own microbrewery, be sure to take business, accounting, and computer science classes to help you prepare for managing a business.

Postsecondary Training

Employers today prefer to hire only brewers who have completed some kind of formal training program in brewing sciences, or who have had extensive apprenticeship training at another brewery. The following three institutions are the most prominent U.S. schools offering programs on brewing sciences and the business of brewing. The Siebel Institute of Technology & World Brewing Academy is located in Chicago, Illinois, with partner campuses in Montreal, Canada, and Munich, Germany. The Siebel Institute offers courses on specific topics, such as brewing microbiology, and the World Brewing Academy offers a 20-week master brewer program that is held in Chicago and Munich; a diploma program that lasts 12 weeks and involves work done in Chicago and Munich; and a six-week associate in brewing technology program in Chicago.

The American Brewers Guild is located in Middlebury, Vermont. The Craft Brewers Apprenticeship Program of the American Brewers Guild lasts 28 weeks and combines classroom work with hands-on experience. Its Intensive Brewing Science & Engineering Program lasts 23 weeks. Graduates receive a diploma and job placement assistance. There are infrequent residential CBA/IBS&E programs offered on-site in Middlebury.

The University of California, Davis Extension Professional Brewing Program offers certificate options as well as a master brewers program.

Although a college degree is not required for admission to the professional brewing programs, you will need to have completed college course work in the following areas: biological sciences (biology, biochemistry, microbiology), chemistry, physics, mathematics (precalculus), and engineering.

It is highly recommended that you complete an organized course of study through one of these programs. Students who learn at a brewing sciences school will have a particular advantage in landing a job as a brewer because employers know graduates have received training in the many highly technical aspects of brewing. Topics covered usually include brewing raw materials, brewhouse theory and practice, fermentation, storage and finishing, packaging and engineering topics, quality control, microbiology laboratory, and sensory evaluation.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Breweries of any size must be licensed both by the state in which they are located and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, which is part of the U.S. Justice Department. Owners of breweries are responsible for obtaining and maintaining these licenses.

Other Requirements

Brewers must be at least 21 years of age.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

To obtain experience, learn about every stage of the brewing process. If you are 21 or older, you can experiment by brewing your own beer at home. Try to land a part-time job as a helper at a brewery.

Brewers must have an avid appreciation for beer and an excellent sense of taste. They must be able to detect all of a particular beer's subtleties and nuances through taste and aroma. They should also be able to distinguish between styles of beer.

Brewers need good organizational, communication, and problem-solving skills as well as creativity. If a batch of beer turns out bad, the brewer must be able, through tests or experience, to pinpoint what went wrong and why. Beer takes time to brew. While the process can be hastened, craftbrewers should have the patience to allow beer to brew in its natural time. Brewers must be able to follow recipes and procedures closely, but they must also know when and how to go beyond a recipe's direction, or when to vary a procedure to achieve a desired result. Since they must be able to legally sample their wares, brewers must be 21 or older.