How did you get your job?
When I enrolled in a postgraduate course in brewing, I knew I was up for a change in my life but I had no idea that just four years later I would own and run a rapidly growing brewery in China.
After training with Brewlab in Sunderland (UK), I got my first job as a brewer in Ohio – Chardon Brew Works and then Cellar Rats Brewery. This was done through networking and a few trial work days before being offered a position.
I then moved to China to open my own brewery with fellow Brewlab classmate Lei. Now we run two breweries and two restaurants, with more on the way!
How has your role developed and how has your training impacted it?
In my first job as a brewer I was immediately able to set up a lab, improve quality processes, and develop recipes and water profiles that gave a fledgling brewery a new outlook on the market, thanks to my training in the UK. Brewlab gave me the foundation for everything I’ve built today.
While moving to Xi’An, China to start a new brewery did seem daunting, the training and resources I received in Sunderland guided me through the tough questions and logistical concerns I encountered everyday.
Now I run two teams of brewers across two brewery locations managing the personnel, processes, and materials from start to finish.
What’s a typical day like as a brewer?
A typical day as a brewer involves a range of activities.
On a brew day it involves arriving to the brewery in the early morning to heat the brewing liquor and to begin milling the malt bill for the days brew. The team of 2-3 brewers will complete the brewing process in about 6 hours followed by clean up. In the meantime there is a lot of side work to do: cleaning fermenters, transferring beer, checking gravities and fermentations, filling and cleaning keg etc. At the end of the day, records and paperwork are taken care of.
Following a week long run of brewing, equipment maintenance and fermentation monitoring will be required along with recipe development on the pilot kit and hosting promotional events in the taproom or restaurant.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I really enjoy the creativity of the brewing process and the discipline that creates the platform for that creativity. By following best practices and guidelines for quality, one can obtain consistent results and push the limits of their imagination and preferences to continually innovate the product offering.
The tangible result of brewing a good quality beer and enjoy one after a long day in the brew house is a very special thing.
What are the challenges?
There are a number of challenges in brewing.
Training and maintaining a quality team is always a work in progress.
Equipment and conditions in the brew house are generally never 100% ideal, so creativity and ongoing preventative maintenance is a must.
Recipe development and evolving customer preferences will continue to keep the pressure on your ability to come up with new and delicious offerings on a quarterly basis.
What advice can you give to others thinking about a career in brewing?
My top three tips are:
- Brewing is not for everyone, but if you are serious about getting into the industry, quality training and practical experience is a must.
- Keep home brewing and experimenting after you start work in a production facility.
- Respect your equipment and remember to stay safe. Steam, high-pressure vessels, CO2, and chemicals are worth the extra attention.
Founder, Head of Brewing Technology / Brewmaster – XIAN Brewery