There’s never been a better time to get involved and start a career working in the Australian craft beer industry as the market continues to grow daily on the back of exciting trends including changing consumer tastes and an increasing loyalty from a passionate fan movement for locally produced, high-quality independent craft beer.
So if you’re looking to get a start in the industry could a career in craft beer be just for you?
This article explores why Australia’s craft beer industry is a thriving space to work in, the diverse roles on offer at breweries, my personal experience from having recently started at a Victorian craft brewery as well as providing some advice from experienced and knowledgeable industry leaders regarding the skills that are essential and how you too can get a job working in beer.
The Beer Boom
It’s an exciting time across the country as the craft beer sector continues to boom with new craft breweries opening in both regional and inner cities on a near-weekly basis while more and more artisan bottle shops, brewery tours and beer festivals are also being established to cater for the new wave of consumers who are passionate about experimentation, quality, freshness and knowing the source of their beer. The impact of this boom has led to positive outcomes including more jobs, the rise in craft beer tourism especially in rural parts of Australia, increased government support, record hop crop yields, new educational courses as well as creative innovations and sustainability initiatives that are collectively delighting craft beer drinkers and bringing local communities closer and closer together across the country. Furthermore, while the industry faces many challenges such as increasing market access, competition from multinational breweries and a global downturn in beer consumption, the positive contribution that these craft breweries add to local Australian communities and our economy is both significant and to be applauded.
From Beer Nerd To Brand Ambassador
My career path has involved working across the education, sports, music and tech sectors but as a craft beer nerd I’ve also been trying to champion the scene wherever I can such as through my writing, however at the start of the year I finally decided to follow my passion for Aussie craft beer and look for a start in the industry. Fast forward to the present day and working at Two Bays Brewing Co as a brand ambassador has been both a phenomenal learning experience and the best career decision that I’ve ever made. In the past six months I’ve regularly been out of my comfort zone learning new skills and insights about beer and while I’ve managed our events and got our beer into venues it’s been the small things like cleaning the beer lines, helping out on the canning line and learning about the brewing process hands-on with our brewers that have been the most rewarding to me.
Working at a craft brewery is challenging and rewarding but it’s also plenty of fun and while my perspective is based purely on working across sales and events, career pathways in the industry are diverse and can include many roles like brewing and marketing to venue management and accounting. Careers in beer can be for anyone that’s just starting out or wanting to pivot their skills but it’s essential to have a positive attitude along with a willingness to jump in and help out in other aspects of the business. This is exciting as you’re bound to learn plenty of new hands-on skills about beer along the way with Bad Shepherd venue manager Jenny Watts noting “having a passion and desire to learn is essential and I encourage anyone looking to get into the industry to have an open mind, be prepared to do the hard yards, start at the basics with a mind to work your way up and enjoy the journey because the Australian craft beer industry is an amazing network of fantastic, supportive like-minded people”.
There are plenty of simple things that you can do to give yourself a greater chance of securing a role such as volunteering at beer festivals, creating content such as blogs, attending events and workshops, researching and reading up on the industry in trade publications to building your knowledge and connections by networking with the industry either at the taproom, bottle-o tastings or festivals which are all effective ways to gain deeper insights into working in the craft beer industry. As head brewer at Stone and Wood Caolan Vaughan highlights on roles in brewing for instance “you should ask and volunteer at your local brewery. You never know what they will say. Go and study something related to brewing like chemistry or even better go and do a specific brewing qualification. There is plenty on offer around the world via correspondence and some are available right here in Australia.” From my own perspective I wrote stories, created infographics and educational content, built up my networks while on my craft beer road trip adventures, went to trade shows and workshops and even started a fun little Instagram blog showcasing Aussie craft breweries. All of these things went a long way in making connections, learning more about the industry and eventually getting a gig in the craft beer world and they’re also quite simple things that anyone else can do too to get a head start on their journey in beer.
Having an understanding of some of the general skills and attributes required and how to get involved in the industry is vital when looking at a career in beer and so for this story I asked a handful of experienced and knowledgeable colleagues from across diverse roles in Australia’s craft brewing industry to provide some advice on what people can do to get started.
Up in the northern beaches of Sydney and Modus Operandi sales rep and certified cicerone Becky Centeno states that the best advice she could give anyone “is that it’s all about attitude in the sense of staying positive and fiercely determined. Getting involved in the industry takes a lot of dedication, time, and putting yourself out there, but also being humble and cooperative along the way is massive” while down in Melbourne at Hawkers, Cellar Technician Melinda Foulkes notes that “the ability to` problem solve and think on your feet are probably the most valuable skills when working in the beer industry”. Green Beacon’s Ella Gasparini provides further useful advice and reaffirms that anyone can forge a career in this industry by highlighting that “Obviously the starting point for a lot of us is a passion and love for beer but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the only thing. There are so many skill sets that add to this industry. Finding your place and a role that suits you is key. This is becoming a more and more diverse industry and a lot of roles are opening up that were previously non-existent”.
What Are You Waiting For?
The rapid growth of the industry illustrates that if you’re passionate about good beer and thinking about a career in this space then there’s never been a better time to get started. With new and diverse roles becoming available on a daily basis, breweries are on the hunt for creative, enthusiastic, dynamic and passionate people to help capitalize and continue this exciting momentum. The Aussie craft beer industry is a fun and challenging space to work in that has been built on the back of the positive and passionate people that comprise it and hopefully the insights provided here helps anyone out there whose currently looking to get a start in the industry. So, could a career in beer be for you?
Blair Hughes works in events and sales for gluten free brewery Two Bays Brewing Co in Dromana, Victoria. You can follow him on Twitter at @MrBlairHughes or at www.MrBlairHughes.com.
Radio interview with the Macquarie Sports Radio team back in March.
No I don’t have the best job in the world or in sport but I’m happy and have put myself out there over the years to create experiences, learn new skills and meet people all over the world. Everything I’ve done in my life across sport, education, digital and the music industry to now loving life working in craft beer has been about experiences, learning, networking and trying new things.
Anyone can get out and do what I’ve done. It’s nothing special. I’m nothing special. I’m lucky with what I’ve been able to achieve and there’s still a lot more I want to do. I love meeting people, learning and trying to challenge myself. My legacy is that I want to be able to sit down with heaps of grandkids one day and recite all the amazing experiences I’ve had and be proud of that. If people like what I do or learn something small from me then thats a bonus.
Thanks for listening and supporting me.
Interview here: https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/overnights/fun-police-curbing-sport-fan-behaviour/11233648
With the 2017 NRL season starting on Thursday night I thought I’d quickly put together a series of posts looking at what each of the clubs are doing for their fans this season.
Be sure to check out my Fan Engagement Pinterest page which showcases 5000+ fan engagement ideas from teams across the world
Check back over the course of the week to see what the other teams are doing as I’ll be updating this at 6pm every day til kick off on Thursday night.
Thanks for reading and bring on the 2017 NRL season.
New trading cards out this Thursday.
Gold Coast Titans
North Queensland Cowboys
South Sydney Rabbitohs
St George Illawarra Dragons
Today represents my last day at audioBoom as I’ve made the decision to move on from leading the company in Australia after three fulfilling years.
It has been a wild ride that has enabled me to travel the world and work with the Australian Open, Cricket World Cup, AFL and Netball World Cup along with major radio networks and podcasters throughout Australia.
I’m taking a career break now for a few months to focus on kicking off my PHD into fan engagement and to study the psychology of fans on a deeper academic level.
I’ll be looking for roles in fan engagement/fan experience, marketing and digital media around May/June/July.
I’m keen for a new challenge and would primarily like to spend some more time in the USA under the Visa E3 program where I can be employed via my degrees in behavioural studies and education that directly relate to working with a team or stadium in fan engagement under these rules.
I’m on the hunt for a club or stadium in the US to take me and my enthusiasm, life experience and background in adolescent teaching, music business, sports industry and passion for fans on. Jump? Well how high can we jump together? Heading back to London/England to work with a team is also an option I would strongly consider.
Please hit me up if you have an idea about how we could work together.
I’m also really excited to be starting a podcast soon around the topic of fans, which is something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time and I’m going to throw myself into some volunteer work around helping unemployed people get back to work through personal branding.
Thanks to audioBoom for the opportunity to represent the company down under as it’s been a dream gig for the past three years.
Best wishes to all of our content partners who are in good hands with my colleague Alana here in Australia and the rest of the Boom team in the US, UK and India.
All the best, thanks
September 9 2006: Brisbane Sounds is born at approximately 2am on the back steps of the Zoo Nightclub after an Iron On gig. With a scrapbook in one hand and a cold Cooper’s Green in the other and the smell of rock and roll (a delightful mix of vom, sweat, sugar soap and beer) in the air after the clean up I took the first steps in putting together a project that was designed to promote Brisbane’s exceptional music talent.
I became a fan of the Brisbane music scene in the late 90’s as a teenager hooked on Aussie alternative music of the time thanks to Brissy bands like the Gurge, Custard, Powdies, Gota Cola, Rhubarb, Screamfeeder, Butterfingers and well the list goes on. I always had such a great time hanging out with mates supporting local bands at The Zoo, The Arena, The Step Inn, X and Y Bar, The Troubadour and The Tivoli while grabbing local bands merch and records at Skinny’s, The Record Exchange and Rockinghorse. In my opinion Brisbane music and the history of where it came from was something to be commended and promoted and I was always looking at ways in which I could do that and get people from home and far away places in to our music history.
10 years ago to the day and I was finalising an education degree and getting set to take up my first teaching post in Mildenhall, England which was due to start in December. Having also wanted to do something to promote the Brisbane music scene while living in the UK, I decided I’d make a compilation album and give copies out to local radio stations, PR agencies, A&R reps, venues and anyone who would listen to me talk about Brisbane bands throughout my travels. I owe a lot at this point to the crew I was working with at The Zoo Nightclub in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley who offered up a lot of ideas and support to make Brisbane Sounds happen. From Joccy, Jase and Vicki to Bridget, Roger and Chris and Matty and Will- you guys were all such legends and I was extremely lucky to have learnt many skills and life experiences from you.
The first edition of the Brisbane Sounds record titled ‘Brisbane Sounds 2007‘ was made out of supplies courtesy of in-kind support from one of my jobs at the time in the department store Target in Buranda, Brisbane, a budget of about $100 and a six pack of our go to post Zoo shift beer (Cooper’s) for ideas generation. The CD lacked any real design unless you can call the word doc printer ink DIY job I did a design and was pressed completely unprofessionally without any mastering or any real idea of what I was doing. I literally had no skills in anything to do with production, marketing, PR, social, design but I did have a vision. I had my heart in the right place and was just trying to do something positive to promote Brisbane music from back home which I was so proud of.
While hardly a professional start, the first edition of the album and the subsequent learnings that took place as I networked with music industry reps in artist management, PR, marketing, social media and venue operations across the UK, Europe, USA and Australia paved the way for improving Brisbane Sounds year after year as well as developing my skills in these areas in what was always a very kinaesthetic and practical way.
Brisbane Sounds lasted a solid six years and produced some really beneficial outcomes for the Brisbane music industry locally and globally for which I’ll always be proud of. On a personal level it was also one of the greatest things I ever did to invest in myself and learn as much as I could about the music business and also about fan engagement, marketing, social media which has helped me get to where I am now in my current role. While tertitary educational music business courses (and any study for that matter) are worthwhile, nothing will ever compare to investing your own money, taking calculated risks, getting your hands dirty and throwing yourself passionately into a project you love in order to make a difference. I found it so important to make mistakes, learn from those mistakes and come back stronger with my skills every time and I’d often go on to talk to my students about this and why resiliency is so important in our lives. That is the power of life long learning and in more simple terms, getting off you’re arse and making awesome shit happen.
Over the years I was privileged enough to have a chance to work in the industry at venues in Brisbane and London (Hammersmith Apollo), promoting gigs and putting together and executing the BS vision which was always to shine a light on our local music industry.I worked my butt off for those years traveling the globe on my teacher salary and some grant funding and doing whatever I could to be a spokesperson and advocate for the Brisbane scene. I owe plenty of thanks to everyone who helped me along the way from street press, radio, record stores and graphic designers to photographers, website designers, venue managers, bands and artists and of course our fans all over the world who helped our team. I must have worked with hundreds of different individuals over the years so it goes to show how large the arts scene is and why its important for our local and federal governments to continue to support it.
Without throwing myself into Brisbane Sounds I wouldn’t have been able to work at QPRFC or now have a dream gig at audioBoom where I get to talk about fan engagement all day long (to the chagrin of many I bet). But alas I love everything to do with fan engagement with looking after and going the extra mile for people, customers and fans and always will.
Here are some stats to recap on the Brisbane Sounds project:
Along with this some of my favourite memories were:
I certainly had my battles with the blatant bullshit nepotism of the music industry along the way and I might not have always been the easiest to work with (I hear my graphic designers agreeing here) as I wanted to always stay out of cliques and do things professionally by the book because I wanted to help everyone I could and never play favourites to uphold the professional integrity of the project. Brisbane Sounds was always about promoting the artists, the venues, the arts scene workers and the fans but I do apologise If I ever pissed anyone off along the way as I put that down to being young and thinking I knew it all. I didn’t know it all but you learn from that with age and life experience.
Thank you to everyone who shared my passion and enthusiasm for Brisbane music and helped along the way. It truly was a collaborative team effort from so many in the Brissy music community and you all deserve praise for helping along the way. I never could have started or continued to improve the project had it not been for all of your skills and it’s been great to watch so many of you continue to support the Brisbane music industry in your careers as well as go on to bigger and better things.
Brisbane Sounds was a very professional project that delivered a lot of successful outcomes for the Brisbane music scene for which I’ll always be immensely proud of and this week I finally got around to sorting out the framing of the five compilation albums as well as some of the gig posters. Whenever I look at it, I’ll think of you and what we achieved, thanks.
All the best,
9th September 2016
Last month I had the pleasure of interviewing Sean from Sports Geek for the Sports Geek Podcast.
Sean has helped on my journey from teacher to sports business so it was a pleasure to talk to him about his personal brand, his story into sports and digital as well as his lessons for young people looking to craft a career in the sports industry.
In this episode we discussed:
Read the latest in sports business news and sign up here to the Sports Geek newsletter Sports Geek HQ
Just in case you missed any of the key stories from the world of fan engagement and fan experience during January, sit back and have a read through some of these articles from sports business sites including Sports Geek, Sport Techie and We Play to name but a few.
Each month I’ll try to collate a list of some of the fan engagement/fan experience articles that I think are worth having a read.
There’s a whole host of interesting content in here from leagues such as the BBL and NFL to what’s happening in the area of drones, virtual reality and ibeacon tech.
Dive in and take a read.
All the best.