8 Facts About Brewmasters: Bringers of Beer
Brewmasters combine passion and science to make delicious drinks.
Brewing has skyrocketed over the last few years! It can be hard to keep track of all the incredible micro breweries popping up across the country. There are now small breweries, large breweries and everything in between. Because of this explosion, there are many breweries looking for able-bodied people who are passionate about creating quality products.
What is the name for the professionals breweries are looking for? Brewmasters! These brewing pros combine passion and science to make tasty drinks.
1. Brewmasters brew beer
Brewmasters are professionals responsible for all duties related to brewing beer. These duties include making beer, preparing beer mixtures, cleaning and keeping an eye on fermenting processes. This profession is very physical because brewmasters spend a lot of their time cleaning tanks and equipment. Cleaning is an essential chore because it ensures safe, quality products.
In a more senior position, the brewmaster manages other brewery-related tasks such as staff schedules and ordering inventory. Brewmasters must stay on their toes watching workers perform their daily duties. These duties include settig machines to the right conditions, tank cleaning, canning and shipping/receiving.
The most enjoyable part of a brewmaster's job, of course, is tasting. Throughout the beer-making process, brewmasters taste the beer and adjust during the fermentation process. They check for texture, consistency, dryness and cleanliness of the product.
2. Brewmasters have degrees in food science and brewmaster operations
The educational requirements for becoming a brewmaster vary by brewery. The term "brewmaster" is usually reserved for someone with many years of experience, as this position is higher in the organizational ladder. Becoming a brewmaster often begins at an entry-level position, such as a keg cleaner or cellar worker.
Being a brewmaster does not require formal education. However, it is not something typically done straight out of high school. Generally, work experience is a must in any brewery-related occupation.
Alternatively, some breweries require individuals to have a college or university degree in brewing, microbiology, food science, fermentation or chemistry. Some schools even offer an education in brewery operations management. For instance, check out the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management diploma from Olds College.
In other cases, some people start their own breweries without any experience in the industry. All they start with is a passion for beer and a garage brewing kit. So if you aren't afraid of a lot of hard work and have enough ambition, you can start experimenting!
3. Brewmasters understand beer
Beer is as simple or as complex as you make it. Whether they understand the science behind beer or not, brewmasters still know how different actions affect the outcome of a beer. For example, if production noticed that a beer tasted skunky during processing, they would look to the brewmaster to determine the cause, such as incorrect beer storage.
Using their scientific knowledge, brewmasters will trouble problems which come up during production. These professionals understand the properties of gases and liquids, thermodynamics, pH and pressure, and how they influence brewery production processes and beer quality. Brewmasters who have been in the business long enough can detect the smallest changes in their beer. To them, making beer is a way of life and they use their intuition to solve problems.
4. Brewmasters spend a lot time cleaning
Being a brewmaster isn't as a glamorous as you might think. Brewing beers requires an extensive amount of cleaning because beer tanks are constantly filled and refilled. Pipes carrying fluids can breed bacteria if they are not maintained. Beer is very finicky where it can pick up unwanted flavours, so cleaning is important!
Here is an outline of a standard tank cleaning procedure:
- Pre-rinse: Cold or tepid plain water
- Cleaning: Hot water and cleanser (typically caustic soda)
- Acid rinse: Cold or warm water and acid-based solution
- Water rinse: Cold water rinse
- Post-rinse sanitation: Tepid water and disinfectant
Imagine how much time that would take!
5. Brewmasters create new formulations
One of the most enjoyable parts of this occupation is creating new beer formulations. This includes selecting raw materials that are used in the brewing process and working with different suppliers. The brewmaster may have to conduct or organize scientific tests on the raw materials to ensure they have specific qualities necessary for beer making.
This process involves a lot of process and error, but the end results are worth it.
6. Brewmasters manage people
Depending on the size of the company, brewmasters could be responsible for all operations tasks in a brewery. Sometimes they are even the owners of the brewery! These professionals oversee daily operations and ensure they meet scheduled production requirements. Not only do they focus on the quality of the beer, but also the health and safety of the employees.
Other management responsibilities include developing annual plans and budgets, arranging worker schedules, ensuring products meet legal compliance and record keeping.
7. Brewmasters ensure quality
There are many aspects involved in maintaining the quality of beer. Having intuition isn't enough, as quantitative tests are also needed to assess the quality of products. Performing these quality tests are taken on by a quality control / assurance technician or brewmaster.
Here are some examples that brewmasters perform to ensure the quality of their product:
- CO2: Beer by nature is carbonated, but if there is too much CO2, the beer might become flat. In contrast, if there is too little, the beer will have no foam at all. CO2 is tested by reading a pressure gauge on the vats of beer.
- Dissolved Oxygen (DO): Oxygen is something you don't want in your beer. Oxygen causes beer to oxidize, which yields a paper or cardboard flavour over time, especially if beer is kept warm. DO is measured using a DO meter.
- Microbiology: Beer uses microorganisms like yeast to produce the fermentation required for beer. Brewmasters check for unwanted organisms using plating. An example of an organism they may check for is lactobacillus, as it's an anaerobic bacteria that produces lactic acid which sours beer.
8. Brewmasters communicate, teach and adapt
Being a brewmaster requires a range of skills. However, there are a few which are more essential than others. These skills include:
- Effective communication– Brewmasters effectively communicate through all levels of the organization, from trainees to account managers. Staff must clearly understand the tasks of their jobs and what needs to be done when troubleshooting. Brewmasters communicate effectively during management meetings to transmit and discuss all brewing-related information.
- Teaching ability – Brewmasters know more about beer than anyone else in a facility. Therefore, they need to be able to train others, including assistant brewers, packagers, and anyone else who works on the production floor. These professionals can motivate their workers!
- Adaptability – A well-rounded brewmaster must be adaptable to situations as they arise in a brewery. They should know how to switch schedules if a product doesn't come in on time or if a staff member calls in sick.
Want to learn more about careers in the food, beverage, and hospitality industries? Check out FoodGrads.com, which offers students and new grads free resources, including a sector-specific job board!
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