With the recent influx of professional brewing programs at colleges and universities, one may question whether brewers entering the field will soon be required to have formal education. There are recognized certificates and degrees in Canada, USA and Europe that range from a few courses on brewing through to Fermentation Science and Brewmaster/Brewery Operation Management degrees. Formal education can certainly give a candidate an advantage however there are many things to consider when choosing the best brewer for a brewery.
Many brewers started as a cellar person or brewer’s assistant to get their foot in the door. This, coupled with homebrewing, often landed him/her a role as a brewer further down the road. The pros of this – you know this person’s work ethic and abilities; the potential con – might have less knowledge of the science involved in brewing.
When someone’s experience is “x” years of homebrewing, are they considered qualified to be an assistant brewer? Perhaps. As QC becomes even more important in this ever-growing and competitive industry, choosing a homebrewer without previous brewery experience or having formal education may disqualify a candidate. Science and/or formal brewing education can become a major component in the role – having the ability to analyze and dissect a beer, especially its faults, can be crucial for a brewery.
All that being said, some of the most exceptional brewers past and present were not formally educated and were likely self-taught. Trial and error, patience and persistence led them to where they are today and for that, we are eternally grateful. Only the brewery owners/management know what is best for their business and will inevitably hire to suit their business model.
In the future, expect to see more brewers with a formal brewing education enter the market. Yet with the massive growth in the industry, homebrewers and/or those that work their way in a brewery are still likely going to be the norm.
Post by: Lynn McIlwee