Technical brewers manage the process of making beer within a brewery and develop new recipes and products. They may be responsible for one or more of the stages in the process.
You could be:
- supervising the buying of raw materials such as cereals, yeast and hops, making sure they are of suitable quality
- using your knowledge of chemistry, biology and microbiology to supervise and check the production process, including fermentation
- taking samples at various stages of production to test for quality and strength, and making adjustments if required
- specialising in a particular brewing stage such as filtration, in large breweries
- in smaller or microbreweries, taking responsibility for several stages, right through to packaging and distribution
- developing new recipes for beer
- checking the equipment and machinery and ensuring it is maintained and safe
- arranging suitable packaging and storage
- organising staff and giving instructions and keeping records of work.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
- where you work
- the size of the company or organisation you work for
- the demand for the job.
The starting salaries for technical brewers are in the range £19,000 to £24,000 a year. Income can be increased through shift allowances and bonuses. With experience you could earn around £25,000 to £35,000 a year. As head brewer in a large brewery you could earn £45,000 a year or more. Salaries can vary depending on the size of the brewery.
As a Modern Apprentice you may start on the National Minimum Wage (NMW). At present the apprentice rate, for those aged under 19 or aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship, is £3.90 an hour (1 April 2019). Some employers may pay their apprentices more.
- You would work mostly in the production area of a brewery which may sometimes be noisy, warm and smelling of yeast.
- You might also spend some time in an office or a laboratory.
- Your working hours may vary with the size of the brewery but you would probably work shifts including evenings and weekends.
- You may have to wear protective clothing such as overalls, a face mask or ear protectors.
- There may be bending, lifting and carrying involved, so you must be fit enough to do a physical job.
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- Many entrants have a degree in a subject such as: brewing and distilling, biological sciences, chemistry, biotechnology, food technology or chemical engineering.
- Heriot-Watt University runs a degree in Brewing and Distilling. For entry you need 5 Highers at AABBC including Maths and one from Biology, Chemistry or Physics plus National 5 English. See university website for widening access entry requirements.
- You may get a job with a degree in a science such as chemistry, food science or microbiology. For entry you need 4-5 Highers usually including Chemistry and another science subject, with English at National 5.
- If you have a suitable science degree, you can take a postgraduate courses in Brewing and Distilling or Brewing and Distilling Entrepreneurship at Heriot-Watt University. These are available full time or part time.
- You can now enter through a Modern Apprenticeship in Brewing which has been developed by the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink with support from industry body, Scotland Food and Drink.
You could work for a large, nationally known firm, or for one of the increasing number of small specialist breweries – even for a microbrewery (small craft brewery producing limited quantities of cask beer).
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What Does it Take?
You need to have:
- an enquiring mind
- an interest in and aptitude for science
- a practical and methodical approach to your work
- good IT skills
- a good eye for detail
- strong leadership skills
- strong written and verbal communication skills
- good problem solving skills.
You need to be:
- enthusiastic about the brewing industry
- business minded
- able to organise processes and staff
- able to take responsibility and make decisions.
- Training is on the job and also by further study.
- If entering through a Modern Apprenticeship, you would work towards Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) Food and Drink Operations: Brewing Skills at SCQF Level 5. You would complete this over two years, qualifying as a brewing operator.
- You would normally study for the exams of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) by attending short courses or by distance learning.
- The IBD runs several courses including the: Fundamentals of Brewing and Packaging, General Certificate in Brewing, Diploma in Brewing and the Master Brewer qualification.
- Heriot-Watt University's degree and MSc courses allow exemption from the taking the IBD Diploma exams in Brewing or Distilling, allowing you to undertake the Master Brewer qualification.
- A number of postgraduate qualifications are also available.
- With experience and ability, you may move on to become head brewer or technical director, leading a team of specialist staff.
- You might move from a small brewing company to a larger one.
- You may be able to move into related work such as research and development, quality control, distribution, engineering, sales and marketing or personnel.
- You may be able to work abroad.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
National Skills Academy for Food and Drink
Tel: 0845 644 0558
On 1st June 2015, Improve Ltd and NSAFD merged to become one company. The single entity is now known as The National Skills Academy for Food and Drink and is the Sector Skills Council for the food and drink manufacturing and processing industries.
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