Sunday, October 26, 2008

What should a brewer do?

In going through old papers, I found a résumé of mine from the mid 1990s. The cover letter expressed my conception of a brewpub brewer's job description.

I insist upon a savage dedication to the quality of, and the culture surrounding, the beer I produce.

Beer in a brewpub must be more than just a product and more than simply a means to an end. This is what I refer to as the beer culture. I have a great respect for beer and wish to work in an environment which engenders such an attitude.

The food in a brewpub should be more than the standard 'burgers, fries, and pizza'. It should be designed to mate with the beers produced. (Some of the menu items could even be prepared with beer.)

The head brewer should be involved with these preparations so that the beers produced will be appropriate. However, the slate of beers should not be the now too-common, "gold, amber, lager." Such a catalog indicates a deficit of imagination, skill, and commitment. [Not the best choice of phrase for a cover letter!]

If a brewpub insists upon simple gateway/training-wheel beers, it has lost the battle to a non-brewpub which serves Budweiser or Coors Lite. Those large breweries produce these bland styles for low cost and with amazing consistency: qualities most small breweries cannot match.

The head brewer should be intimately involved with the design, purchase, and installation of equipment.

I have been in brewpubs where the staff, including the bartenders and the management, knew very little about the beer they attempted to sell. How can one expect to market anything, let alone beer, if one does not know what that product is?

The head brewer, therefore, should be the bar manager. He should create and implement a beer training seminar for ALL the staff, with ongoing sessions for the servers and bartenders.

The head brewer should have the ability to consistently produce distinctive and well-made beers. He should understand how to faithfully reproduce the standard styles. A brewer needs to know, and know well, the basics before he experiments with different directions.

The brewer must understand the effect of his ingredients on the finished beer. He must understand the effect of procedures, equipment, yeast, and spoiling microbiology.

The brewer must implement rigorous quality control protocols, including micro-biological.

The brewer must have a good palate and be able to discern and understand the source of appropriate and undesirable flavors.

The brewer must understand the practical side, the business side of beer: sales, production planning, purchase, maintenance, and retrofitting of equipment, quality control, management of personnel, inventory control.

Whew! Strong words, but a clear statement of philosophy. Overall, I still agree, nearly 15 years later.

Only now, I would state it in a more polite manner.

1 comment:

  1. Only now, you're too lazy to brew beer, so you just talk about it. A lot.


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