From our experience at Brewlab it is interesting to see the background of brewers and gauge their motivations.
Plenty of brewers start brewing with the passion to extend their homebrewing experience. Partly to gain the pride of making their beers commercial, initially with encouragement from friends and family but increasingly with the confidence of having crafted a fine pint. Approximately 50% of students on our courses have conducted some degree of homebrewing – either as a pastime or as a means of testing recipes for commercial development. However, many have seen the advantage of extending their skills with a dedicated course such as our Certificate or Diploma which also provides an accredited qualification of achievement.
Homebrewing provides skills and experience as well as confidence but does have limitations, particularly with regard to handling large volumes of beer and of managing quality. Producing gallons at home is rarely time critical while commercial production needs to satisfy orders and delivery schedules.
This is not to say that homebrewers haven’t started successful breweries, many have. Gareth Williams developed Tiny Rebel into a multimillion pound brewery in 5 years and has won acclaim with a series of national awards. Homebrewing experience alone won’t guarantee success even if it can produce good beer. Business skills are essential too as brewing is a commercial operation in a competitive market. Your beer must be promoted to sell and sold to provide the income to keep the company afloat.
At Brewlab we recognise the need for business skills: management, finance and marketing are all essential and provide these as essential components in our courses. In many cases a brewery will delegate responsibilities to partners or associates. In fact few breweries have sole proprietors, most are partnerships or limited companies with more than one director each with different skills. In some cases these arise from existing friendships but can develop as the brewery is formed and grows. Some, such as the very successful Saltaire Brewery, were formed when two Brewlab students paired up after our Diploma course.
Other routes into brewing may be commercial, an addition to a pub or bar, an installation to a skills workshop or historic attraction. In such cases a manager will require themselves and their staff to be trained and attend a Brewlab course. The relevant course will depend on the degree of knowledge and skills required. A manager overseeing the brewery as well as other activities may require a basic overview such as provided by the two day Brewlab Professional Craft Brewing so as to gain a general understanding. Brewing staff, however, will require both knowledge and skills and will benefit from a progressive development from the Professional Craft Brewing course to the Brewing Skills Development or the Certificate or Diploma qualification programmes.
Brewlab accredited courses are aligned to the content of the Institute of Brewing Certificate examination which many of our students take as a further demonstration of their competence. Brewlab provides on line support for this qualification.
Additional specialist workshops at Brewlab provide for detailed instruction into packaging and quality assurance. These workshops are skills based and provide opportunity to develop experience in these areas for application to brewery developments. They also support career development towards formal brewing qualifications by the IBD.
Further support to this end are provided by the Brewlab Advanced Brewing Skills distance learning programme. This is focused on support for the IBD Diploma examinations – a theory examination covering three modules of the brewing process, Materials and Wort, Yeast and Beer, Packaging Technology and Process Technology. On line material, tutorial work and structured workbooks provide a learning programme suitable for brewery staff learning whilst employed.
Career development will become increasingly important for brewers, particularly as technology progresses. Possessing qualifications is an important means to demonstrate that a brewery and its staff are competent in their profession. Brewlab contributes to this by providing a staged series of courses to develop knowledge, understanding and skills.Return to Brewlab blog