On the face of it brewing seems like quite a cool career choice, every bloke likes beer right? Live the dream, make it for a living!
In reality this is a long way from the truth. Brewing involves real commitment, lots of hard physical labour- try shovelling out half a ton of spent, wet malt from a mash tun! Lifting and carrying full and empty casks, early starts (usually about 6.30/7am), late evenings and doing over 70 hours a week, weekend work and freezing cold unheated brewhouses.
Then, there are the really unglamorous jobs: cleaning and scrubbing fermenting vessels, hand filling bottles, labelling bottles one at a time in a hand loaded labeller, cleaning casks and scrubbing out the cold store. It is also a dangerous job- boiling liquid, neat caustic, phosphoric acid, steam and moving machinery are all in close proximity all the time. All it takes is one wrong valve opened, one nut not tightened properly, one wrong button pressed on the control panel and you can have a serious industrial accident on your hands.
Another thing, don't go into brewing for the money. According to here, typical starting salaries are around £16,000 a year, experienced staff can earn £21,000 a year and senior staff can earn between £26,000 and £32,000 a year. So the money isn't great, an average job in IT pays similarly.
At this point, I have probably completely confused you as to why I'm a brewer. It sounds like I hate what I'm doing for a living. Wrong. I'll tell you about something that happened a couple of weeks ago which explains why it is all worthwhile.
I went to the pub a couple of weeks ago as I usually do on a Friday evening with some mates for a pre-dinner pint or two (or four). As I walked up to the bar a guy turned round and took a long, thirsty first draught out of his pint. A smile lit up his face, he turned to me and said 'You MUST order a pint of the Hopdaemon Incubus, it is my favorite beer. We have driven down from Essex this evening just to have a pint or two of it'. This guy had no idea who I was, but it made my day, in fact it made my whole week.
That is why I brew beer for a living. The feeling of reward I get for making something that facilitates people having a good time with their friends. Seeing people drinking and enjoying the beer I have made makes all the early starts, late nights, shovelling and hours spent loading the labelling machine irrelevant. Forgotten in an instant, I'm really not sure there are many people who love their job as much as I do.
Oh, and free beer as a perk isn't bad either!