Crafty Careers: So You Want To Work In Craft Beer?
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.