If you appreciate relaxing with a drink, enjoy home brewing or have a knack for science, you may want to consider a career in craft brewing and distilling. Craft brewing is steadily increasing in popularity, and that growth has brought a growing number of jobs.
You can find brewing industry jobs throughout the U.S. California offers the most current positions, while Indiana has the fastest growth. Brewery employment makes up a quarter of the jobs in the beverage industry. You can make a good income by working in craft brewing and distilling. The average weekly wage for those working in breweries is $969, and the average weekly salary for those working in distilleries is $1,362.
With the rapid growth in the craft brewing and distilling industries, there are a host of fast-growing careers available. Read on to find where your future lies.
Perhaps the most obvious career in craft brewing, working as a brewer takes patience and creativity. Many brewers start internships or entry-level positions doing cellar work, which includes sanitation responsibilities like washing equipment.
As you gain experience in the industry — or if you already have experience through an internship or by earning a degree — you can find a position as an assistant brewer, who works closely with the head brewer. You may work in the various aspects of brewing, such as having oversight of the mashing process, playing with various cereals, and adjusting ratios. You’ll manage the addition of enzymes and other various additives to adjust flavors when needed to make crafted beverages.
Assistant brewers may also be involved with marketing, packaging and other aspects of keeping the brewery up and running. Salaries for assistant brewers range from $25,000 to $40,000 or more yearly.
Lead brewers, who may also be referred to as head brewers or brew-masters, have extensive experience and may also have accreditation from brewing programs. A brew-master will have a thorough understanding of the brewing process and the science behind how the process works. Your salary as a lead brewer will be based on the size of the brewery and the scope of your responsibilities. The average yearly salary range for a head brewer is from $45,000 to $80,000 or more.
Distillers have a similar career path to brewers. It takes a combination of education and experience to qualify for the top spots in the field. Like brewers, distillers decide on what materials to use and make adjustments to the distillation process, including adding enzymes as needed to assist the process.
Working as a distiller requires patience, as distilling takes time. Distilling is also heavily regulated, so you must have the skills and patience to deal with governmental red tape. You also need to have a good nose to tell how your batch is developing. The average salary for a distiller is $52,000 per year.
Quality assurance is vital to ensure you’re delivering a safe, high-quality product to your consumers. Quality assurance includes inspecting packaging for safety, performing micro-testing and taste-testing each batch, as well as training staff on appropriate safety and quality measures. Some breweries and distilleries will have multiple quality assurance specialists on staff to focus on different areas.
The Quality Assurance and Regulatory Affairs Supervisor at Specialty Enzymes & Probiotics, Ankit Rathi, advises that, “Quality assurance specialists need to have a solid background in science, as they do various forms of testing, including assessing yeast viability and measuring wort gravity. They also make recommendations as to whether additives like beta glucanase would enhance the brewing or distilling process. They must analyze data and communicate what they find to other staff members.”
Most quality assurance specialists have some specialized training, either through a degree program or through professional certification programs. Some are trained as chemists or microbiologists to handle the technical work involved with evaluating the quality of beer and spirits. The salary range for a quality assurance inspector depends on experience and location but ranges from $26,000 to $62,000 or more.
Maltsters, not surprisingly, create malts. They take grains like barley, allow them to partially sprout and then heat them in a kiln. Malting is an intensive, time-consuming process. It involves a familiarity with agriculture as well as a background in science, and many maltsters have advanced degrees. Maltsters are increasingly using enzymes in malting process. Enzymes are great tools to shorten malting time, improve malt quality and increase yield
Maltsters source or grow the grains themselves. From there, they take the grains through each phase of the malting process until it’s ready to be shipped to a brewery or distillery. If you enjoy science and working outdoors, being a maltster may be the career for you. The median annual wage is $41,450.
Brewing engineers are responsible for the technical aspects of brewing. Engineers help develop and set up breweries, choose and install brewery equipment, then monitor it to ensure it’s working properly. Some engineers design the equipment themselves. If you’re an engineer at a brewery or distillery, you may be the first person called when there is a technical issue. You will also work with other department heads and look for ways to improve production.
Craft brewery and distillery engineers typically have a degree in electrical, mechanical or process engineering but may also have a degree in food science, brewing or another related field as well as professional certifications. This position requires strong computer skills, including the ability to lead a team and use design software.
Some positions may require experience in the food or beverage industry. You would also benefit from understanding electrical systems, mechanical systems and plumbing. The pay varies based on the scope of the operation and the location, but experienced engineers typically earn a six-figure salary.
Craft breweries and distilleries wouldn’t exist if consumers didn’t enjoy their products. If you work in sales and marketing, it’s up to you to get products to consumers. You may spend your time nurturing new business relationships as well as improving current relationships.
Working in sales in the craft brewing and distilling industry means having a combination of technical know-how and business skills. You may need to make sales presentations to groups of potential customers as well as make more technical presentations to brewers or investors. You’ll be required to coordinate and work at marketing events, including beer festivals and promotions at bars and restaurants.
You may also need to travel and have a flexible schedule. Many sales representatives have a bachelor’s degree in sales, but you may be able to qualify with previous sales experience as well, especially if it’s in the brewing or distilling industries. If you are a creative thinker and enjoy interacting with people, including managers, coworkers and members of the public that attend your events, then this is an ideal job.
Sales and marketing representatives must be results-driven, as you may be expected to make a specific volume of sales. It’s a high-pressure position, but one that can be a lot of fun. The median salary for this position is $29,479.