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What You Need to Know: Working in a Brewery

The brewing industry is exploding in New York. How do you make the jump from beer aficionado to brewer?

We asked twenty professional brewers what you need to know to get started working in a brewery. Their responses feature common themes of passion, dedication, and a willingness to work hard, long, and tirelessly towards perfection — and not one of them would give it up for anything.

If you’re looking for a passion-fueled career, or to build a profession from home brewing, read on to learn how some of the best craft brewers out there got their start.

Cheers!

Click for Answers from Your Favorite Brewer:

  • Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
  • CB Craft Brewers
  • Roc Brewing Co.
  • Gun Hill Brewing Co.
  • Crossroads Brewing Company
  • Resurgence Brewing
  • The Roscoe NY Beer Company
  • Cortland Beer Company
  • Upstate Brewing
  • Binghamton Brewing Co.
  • Great Adirondack Brewing Company
  • The Brewers Collective
  • Rusty Nickel Brewing Company
  • Raquette River Brewing
  • WT Brews
  • Long Beard Brewing Co.
  • Local 315 Brewing Co.
  • Angela's Pizzeria and Brewery
  • Griffs Brewery
  • Woodland Beer

 

Dogfish_Head_Craft_Brewery

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Milton, DE
dogfish.com
Tim Hawn, Brewmaster

 

Why beer? What made you consider a career in brewing?

I think the question is, why not beer? There are many reasons to consider a career in brewing.

  1. It’s the coolest job of any of your friends … until they all start working it with you.
  2. You get paid to “taste” beer.
  3. It’s an industry that has some of the coolest people.
  4. If you have to work and don’t mind working hard, it’s a great place to have fun.
  5. It tastes pretty damn good.
  6. It beats any other job out there.

Okay, on a more serious note. Breweries and brewers are people who are lifelong learners. It’s one of the places where I could combine an engineering, biology and chemistry background. Those disciplines are used every day – from understanding how steam systems work to metabolic pathways in yeast, as well as chemical reactions required for water pH adjustments. It’s such a multi-disciplinary field and one I wanted to be part of. Every day there is something different to solve if you look hard enough. It’s also a place where you can be somewhat creative – whether is through R&D, recipe development or even working to solve a mechanical issue and figure out a new process.

So I think in a nutshell it was the ability to do a lot of different things while creating something I enjoy and want to share with my friends.

What are the most important skills for working in a brewery?

Number one skill – be a lifelong learner. There is never a day you won’t learn something new … unless you aren’t trying. Even if it’s relearning something you already forgot.

Yeast rarely sleeps and many times neither does the brewer.

You have to be a hard worker who is willing to do anything and everything, and able to focus on the little things as they are so important. Yeast rarely sleeps and many times neither does the brewer. Great brewers are sticklers about sanitation and cleanliness. A good general knowledge of mechanical things really helps when you’re just getting started in the brewing world. We move a lot of beer and other materials through hoses and pipes, and it’s not always the easiest to see how it works. People who are mechanically focused are really good at being able to get beer or wort from tank A to tank B safely and intact as we intend for it to be. I’m not saying you need to be a mechanic, but in smaller breweries you will need to be able to do a lot of different things, from rebuilding pumps to even working on boilers. A good understanding of chemistry and biology doesn’t hurt either.

And lastly, while so cliché – a good team player.

Out of all your beers, which brew are you proudest of?

Usually it’s the one someone is drinking and enjoying. But if I had to pick one – Urkontinent was one of my favorite beers. We worked with so many people and the beer was awesome. I’m disappointed I didn’t cellar more bottles.

For me, personally I drink mostly IPA’s, so Aprihop is one of my favorites in season and my go-to is 60 minute IPA. I think both are well-balanced.

 

 

CB Craft Brewers

Honeoye Falls, NY
cbcraftbrewers.com
Mike Alcorn, Founder and Chief Craftologist

 

Why beer? What made you consider a career in brewing?

I have loved beer since before the craft beer boom. I experimented with imports and then homebrewing since the late 70’s and early 80’s. There was a lack of good craft beer in Rochester NY when I arrived here in 1991, and by 1997 I had to do something about it.

What are the most important skills for working in a brewery?

You have to be creative and nimble.

Be able to roll with the punches. You have to be creative and nimble. With the craft beer market being a high growth entity, there is a lot of constant change

The skill of listening is probably the most important basic skill to have. Its not about what you want to brew, its about what the customer whats to drink.

Out of all your beers, which brew are you proudest of?

The Caged Alpha Monkey IPA, by far. It is such a great product from the very approachable albeit very hoppy liquid in the pint or bottle, to the fun name and branding of the beer.

It has become over 60% of our production and stimulated an overall annual growth rate of 20% or more a year since we launched it.

 

 

Roc_Brewing_Co

Roc Brewing Co.

Rochester, NY
rocbrewingco.com
Chris Spinelli, Co-owner

 

Why beer? What made you consider a career in brewing?

What started as a hobby quickly outgrew our home-brewing space, so it was now or never. The timing was right and Rochester NY has a vibrant community where craft beers are on the rise.

What are the most important skills for working in a brewery?

Building relationships is key.

For the brewer in craft beer, it might just be a sense of adventure and a passion for producing a quality product that is flexible enough to change with the growing market preferences.

In Rochester, we work collaboratively with the local breweries. Building relationships is a key component of success in this industry.

Out of all your beers, which brew are you proudest of?

Our #1 beer is our Badass IPA and we appreciate the community’s support.

I think the beer that brings me the most joy is the Cullinan’s Revival Irish Red. This beer was brewed in honor of my grandfather’s family name and he was proud to be associated with it. He was our #1 fan and I am proud of the legacy.

We are on tap in our brewery and at local bars in Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse. You can buy our beers in growlers and grumblers at AJ’s Beer Warehouse as well.

 

Gun_Hill_Brewing_Co

Gun Hill Brewing Co.

Bronx, NY
gunhillbrewing.com
Dave Lopez, Co-Founder and Partner

 

 

Why beer? What made you consider a career in brewing?

We wanted to find a business that we could enjoy, and we felt, at the time, that NYC did not have enough local representation. We had a friend who was a home-brewer, and he kind of planted the idea in our heads. The more research we did, the more we wanted to be involved.

What are the most important skills for working in a brewery?

Hard work, adaptability, and patience.

Out of all your beers, which brew are you proudest of?

We are most proud of our Void of Light foreign export stout. This beer won a GABF gold medal in 2014, 7.5 months after we opened. It made people start noticing us.

 

 

Crossroads_Brewing_Company

Crossroads Brewing Company

Athens, NY
crossroadsbrewingco.com
Janine Bennett

 

 

Why beer? What made you consider a career in brewing?

Who doesn’t want to work in a brewery?!

What are the most important skills for working in a brewery?

Time management, cleanliness, basic biology and chemistry, and quality recipe formulation.

Out of all your beers, which brew are you proudest of?

OUTRAGE IPA!

 

 

Resurgence_Brewing

Resurgence Brewing

Buffalo, NY
resurgencebrewing.com
Jeff Ware, President

 

 

Why beer? What made you consider a career in brewing?

I started out as a home brewer and craft beer enthusiast. I wanted to work in an industry that I was passionate about, and that others were passionate about.

I’ve worked in office settings and knew I didn’t want to sit at a desk the rest of my life; I wanted to do what I loved.

What are the most important skills for working in a brewery?

Be able to multitask and maintain a level head.

Some of the most essential skills are the ability to multitask and maintain a level head when there’s a lot going on. At a brewery, we’re always doing a lot at once. The brewing itself requires attention to detail, math, chemistry and being able to focus on precise measurements and recipes, while also dealing with supplies, inventory, accounting, and managing the rest of the employees and issues that arise when running any business.

You’ll also need creativity, flexibility and communication skills to work with the other brewers and employees, as well as your malt and hops suppliers and customers, of course.

A sense of adventure is also important, since brewing is always growing and changing, and you’ll want to be doing the same alongside the industry.

Out of all your beers, which brew are you proudest of?

Our flagship beer, the Resurgence IPA, is our biggest seller, although all of our beers tend to sell pretty well. That IPA is a balanced IPA that showcases our commitment to cleanly brewed beers that adhere to the style they fall into.

Our Resurgence IPA has both citrus and spice flavors, as well as that hop-forward aroma IPA fans love, without that back-of-the-throat tickle that can turn people off who are still new to the style.

 

 

The_Roscoe_NY_Beer_Company

The Roscoe NY Beer Company

Roscoe, NY
roscoebeercompany.com
Joshua Hughes, Head Brewer & Director of Operations

 

 

Why beer? What made you consider a career in brewing?

From a young age I was exposed to both craft beer and brewing. That, coupled with a fascination with sciences and fermentation, led me to begin brewing and studying about brewing.

What are the most important skills for working in a brewery?

Cleanliness is critical.

Cleanliness, which is more of a discipline than skill, is very critical to the functionality of a brewery and consistently high quality beer.

Attention to detail and problem solving are also critically important in the brewing world. Everything does not always go according to planned, and equipment does not last forever with out its issues, so you have to be able to figure out problems and their solutions on the fly.

Out of all your beers, which brew are you proudest of?

While a tough question, as I am proud of all of the brews, I would have to say Trout Town Rainbow Red Ale.

This is a very dynamic beer that I have been brewing and tweaking for around 7 years now. While complex in its malt and hop characters, packing bold carmel flavors and earthy bitterness, it was designed to be drinkable by both the faintest-of-heart beer drinkers and the boldest of craft beer enthusiasts.

 

 

Cortland_Beer_Company

Cortland Beer Company

Cortland, NY
cortlandbeer.com
Dan Cleary, Co-Owner

 

Why beer? What made you consider a career in brewing?

I was burned out from my last job and decided to get back into brewing. My partner and I started brewing in his house on a Sabco and pulled the trigger to open our own brewery. Now, almost 10 years later, the rest is history.

What are the most important skills for working in a brewery?

Know a little of everything.

The best brewers know a little of everything. You are going to have to know business, plumbing, electrical, sales, and how to brew.

Also, how to manage every day; it is by no means easy or inexpensive to enter this business.

Out of all your beers, which brew are you proudest of?

We are proud of all the beers we make, each one is made with passion. We strive to put out top quality beers and would put our beers up against any in the business.

 

 

Upstate_Brewing

Upstate Brewing

Elmira, NY
upstatebrewing.com
Mark Neumann, Co-Owner

 

Why beer? What made you consider a career in brewing?

I learned how to homebrew while living in Los Angeles in 2009. I have always loved to cook and brewing is very similar in many ways.

At the time we founded the brewery (2011), there were only a handful of breweries in the Finger Lakes region and close to 100 wineries. So it seemed like a very logical opportunity.

What are the most important skills for working in a brewery?

It helps to have a business background.

Ability to follow procedures (cleaning, brewing, transfer, kegging, canning, etc) with cleaning being the absolute top priority.

It also helps to have a business background, given the state and federal requirements for a brewery. We file taxes twice per month for Federal, once for State and also have to do a quarterly operations report. This is on top of all the “normal” business reporting that is required. It’s quite a lot.

Out of all your beers, which brew are you proudest of?

Our fall seasonal is my favorite. We use wet hops from two local hop farms to make a pale ale. We get the hops from the farm either the day of or the day before brewing so we are using them at their absolute peak. It creates a beer with amazing hop flavor that always sells out very quick for us.

 

 

Binghamton_Brewing_Co

Binghamton Brewing Co.

Johnson City, NY
bingbrew.com
Kristen Lyons, Co-Owner

 

Why beer? What made you consider a career in brewing?

Beer is a social product; you see that in the friends that come together over a beer, and you see that in the industry itself. We were introduced to craft beer through great festivals and were drawn to the sense of community and camaraderie.

We are both manufacturing engineers, which suits brewing, as well as natural hosts, which is expressed in the taproom. It is rewarding to create a unique product that people love and a space where people can come together to enjoy it.

Plus, beer has a rich history and never goes out of style.

What are the most important skills for working in a brewery?

Consistency and continual improvement.

There are two sides to the brewery that we have. In the back of house – production – it is valuable to have an analytical approach, both in process design and solving problems. This is the path to consistency and continual improvement, which are cornerstones of commercial brewing.

In the front of house – customer service – you need to be friendly, knowledgeable about craft beer, and attentive. The challenge is warmly engaging each customer and answering their questions while promptly serving everyone.

Out of all your beers, which brew are you proudest of?

We are most proud of our Belgian Dark Strong. It was the first recipe developed in the brewhouse instead of coming from our homebrew portfolio. It was great from the first batch and confirmed that we could design delicious beers on the first iteration. Additionally, we gained confidence in our problem solving as we worked through issues that sprang up in reproducing this big beer.

We enjoy that the Belgian is beloved by discriminating palates and even puts a smile on the face of many skeptical “non-beer-drinkers”.

 

 

Great_Adirondack_Brewing_Company

Great Adirondack Brewing Company

Lake Placid, NY
adirondackbrewing.com
Rob Kane, Head of Operations & Sales

 

Why beer? What made you consider a career in brewing?

I grew up in the restaurant and brewery industry. We’ve had restaurants since before I was born which led us to opening a brewery. We started our brewery in 1996 and have been doing well since.

Our company has been blessed with some amazing brewers over the years who have helped us greatly along the way (8 Great American Beer Fest Medals & 3 World Beer Cup awards). It has provided us with an excellent opportunity to grow as a brewery and restaurant.

We just recently started expanding into production and distribution; prior to that we operated as a restaurant first with a brewery.

I was always intrigued with the brewery as it was different from the restaurant industry. It allowed for more growth and seemed to be a great opportunity to expand our product to other businesses (i.e., Restaurants, Wholesalers, Stores) and consumers in a way restaurants cannot without opening up several locations.

The brewing industry is also more personable; consumers can feel as though their opinion matters and has an effect on what we produce. It’s not like other businesses where everything is so rigid and conformed to one business model. Making beer has been a great industry to work in as long as you work hard at it, have a great product, and enjoy the social aspects of the industry.

In short, the best reason I can think of why I stayed in it is I’m making and selling beer. Things could be much worse.

What are the most important skills for working in a brewery?

We are always cleaning.

I think the most important skills working in a brewery are you have to be physically capable of lifting heavy equipment, attention to detail, working long hours, drinking, and a love of cleaning.

We are always cleaning, whether it’s scrubbing, rinsing, washing, sanitizing, etc.

Out of all your beers, which brew are you proudest of?

Our Whiteface Stout is the beer we are most proud of. It’s our best seller. It has also won 4 medals at the Great American Beer Festival and has most recently won Silver Award at the 2014 World Beer Cup.

Our customers always love this beer and we’ve had so much great feedback over the years from this brew. It’s so easy to sell because of the quality and style (foreign style stout).

 

 

The_Brewers_Collective

The Brewers Collective

Farmingdale, NY
thebrewerscollective.com
Tim Dougherty, Brewing/Propaganda/SIGINT/Divination

 

Why beer? What made you consider a career in brewing?

The Brewers Collective started with a handful of coworkers at an IT company coming together to create a small home-brewing club where we would share our ideas, recipes, equipment and our results. One of our members, Joe Vella, has been home-brewing for 20+ years and his pumpkin ales – which he’s been brewing long before the current craze of ‘pumpkin-everything’ – were so good we’d fight over them whenever he’d bring in a case to share.

Eventually we got tired of waiting for him to brew more and a bunch of us began brewing our own.

In 2007 we decided to pull in some friends and create a homebrew club. A few years later, we were in every LI beer festival we could get ourselves into. The response over our creations was very positive and we decided to take it to the next level & go commercial.

There are currently 8 members of The Collective and we all still have day jobs, so TBC is our outlet for creativity and a labor of love. This probably wouldn’t have been possible if Joe had been, say, making cookies or starting an accounting business or something like that; beer is what brought us together and our synergy as a group is what keeps us going.

What are the most important skills for working in a brewery?

This being our own creation and none of us having worked in someone else’s brewery before doing this, I probably have a different sort of answer for this question than most.

We are a 100% worker-owned brewing collective; there is no boss and everyone gets an equal share of any profits we make. Coming from all walks of life, we’ve each found our niche in The Collective and by being open about our individual strengths and weaknesses we’ve been able to build something greater than the sum of its parts.

Nobody is being driven by money or individual recognition, so in our company the most useful skills to have are creativity, patience, interpersonal skills with your comrades and, most importantly I think, the ability to master new challenges or techniques quickly.

Out of all your beers, which brew are you proudest of?

This question I’ll answer personally. As one of the brewers for TBC, I’m most proud of our line of gruit ales. Gruit ales are brewed with little or no hops & use herbs for their flavor and preservative qualities and were the standard for ales in ancient Europe.

The flavor possibilities are huge when you move beyond hops and common adjuncts as you basis for recipes. We are the first brewery on Long Island to make gruit commercially and the response has been very positive. Currently we make two seasonal recipes; “Loot”, which is a wonderfully refreshing spring and summer gruit brewed with sage, hibiscus and lemon balm, and “Witchbinder”, our fall gruit brewed with sage, smoked sage and LI cheese pumpkin (an heirloom variety grown on LI for many generations).

Both ales are specific to their season and you can expect more creations and variants to come out as we proceed with our operations.

 

 

Rusty_Nickel_Brewing_Company

Rusty Nickel Brewing Company

West Seneca, NY
rustynickelbrewing.com
Dave Johnson, Co-Owner & Head Brewer

 

 

Why beer? What made you consider a career in brewing?

Brewing allows you to utilize both your artful talents as well as your technical expertise as these two elements work equally together. I personally like to hand craft just about everything in my life; I believe you can make things better than what is commercially available when you make each component of it yourself and control your product from start to finish.

Beer (especially craft beer) tends to make people happy. There is nothing more satisfying than witnessing people truly enjoying something that you designed and created.

What are the most important skills for working in a brewery?

Brewing is messy work.

Most important to me isn’t as much of a skill as it is an attitude. Brewing is messy work. The willingness to dive in and get dirty is absolutely essential for success in the brewery.

Most of the brewing process includes cleaning and sanitation. Knowing this is and understanding how un-glorifying it is becomes the most essential aspect that an aspiring brewer must understand.

Out of all your beers, which brew are you proudest of?

I’m proud of all of my beers as each one was painstakingly designed over many years to reach the point that the recipes are at today. The one that brings a little extra smile to my face when people try it, however is our Dubbel Polar Vortex Belgian Dubbel.

This one came from many years of trials to reach the level of flavor and complexity I was looking for. When I finally decided to replace the Belgian Candi sugar with coconut palm sugar, the extra complexity I was looking for became apparent. I love when people can enjoy it and pick out the individual flavors as they cross their palate.

 

 

Raquette_River_Brewing

Raquette River Brewing

Tupper Lake, NY
raquetteriverbrewing.com
Mark Jessie, Co-Owner & Brewer

 

Why beer? What made you consider a career in brewing?

I have a passion for beer. It is extremely satisfying producing great beer. This is my second career and I wanted it to be about something I love.

What are the most important skills for working in a brewery?

Attention to detail and loving what you are doing.

Out of all your beers, which brew are you proudest of?

Our Imperial Pumpkin Ale. Many people have told us that it is the best Pumpkin Ale in the country.

 

 

WT_Brews

WT Brews

Baldwinsville, NY
WT Brews
Rich Pinkowski, Co-Owner & Brewer

 

Why beer? What made you consider a career in brewing?

Well, beer is fun. Beer is always interesting. Beer is always a challenge. I feel I could spend the rest of my life brewing beer and I’d still have more to learn, and there would be more that I would want to learn.

Beer is a constantly changing field and there is always something new to conquer. Brewing also forces you to take pride and responsibility for the product you are producing. You’re face to face with your customers everyday, getting instant feedback from a very demanding crowd. Most importantly as brewers we work for no one but ourselves and our customers. It’s a very fulfilling and rewarding experience that can be hard to find in a cubicle.

What are the most important skills for working in a brewery?

The most important skill to have as a brewer would be versatility. Like many small businesses we’re forced to play many roles in our company, brewing being just one part of it. You’re running a business first which comes with it’s own set of challenges, dealing with federal and state governments and regulatory agencies regularly. We’re our own janitors probably more than anything.

We also operate a farm growing hops, barley and apples. On top of the whole “running a brewery thing”, which is a highly technical business in itself. Being able to handle all those different responsibilities and more is a necessity everyday.

Out of all your beers, which brew are you proudest of?

It’s hard to pick just one beer to claim as a favorite, or to single one out. Each one gets a lot of attention and thought in the brewery.

I’d say I’m more proud of our brewery than any one beer. Here we’ve been open just 11 months, have expanded our capacity twice already, are planning another expansion and are still unable to keep up with demand. A year ago neither one of us had ever even sold a pint and now we’re regularly selling out.

It’s a great feeling, but also a pretty good reminder that we’ve still got a lot of work to do.

 

 

Long_Beard_Brewing_Co

Long Beard Brewing Co.

Suffolk County, NY
longbeardbrewing.com
Paul Carlin, Founder

 

 

Why beer? What made you consider a career in brewing?

Craft beer has always been a passion. Of course, it was just a drinking hobby in the beginning but, once I learned I can brew it, it became a game changer.

As I progressed in my brewing skills, people began filling my head with the idea of opening a brewery. With that encouragement, I decided to move forward and begin to search for a good partner and start the business. The idea of turning a passion into a career sounded pretty appealing.

What are the most important skills for working in a brewery?

I don’t think it is one or two skills you have to be proficient in. I believe you must be well-rounded in every aspect of the business. Yes, you do have to be able to brew good beer but, that might only be 20 percent of the time.

You need to know the business.

You need to know the business. I think a lot of people make the mistake of not taking the time to learn the business before transitioning from home brewer to professional. You need to be able to handle numerous things as a brewery owner. You need to be able to brew, fix and maintain equipment, inventory management, deal with internal and outside sales, personnel management, accounting, quality control, understanding the legalities of the business, best practices, control of point of sale, customer service, tasting room/bar management, advertising, social media and on on…

If you can’t do that, don’t open the business. You’ll end up broke.

Out of all your beers, which brew are you proudest of?

We have a couple of beers that I love to brew. However, I am proud of all my recipes. I put a lot of effort into all of them. They all were brewed over and over until perfected. I was my biggest critic. So believe me, if it did not pass my litmus test, it was dumped. Hard work and the outcome I desired combined makes me proud.

 

 

Local_315_Brewing_Co

Local 315 Brewing Co.

Camillus, NY
local315brewing.com
Dan Mathews, Co-Owner

 

Why beer? What made you consider a career in brewing?

We opened our brewery because we enjoy the art and science of brewing, the camaraderie of the brewing community, and the ability to showcase local products in our final brews. We have a passion for great beer and we love our community, and there is a great synergy with our brews.

Our careers sprang out a hobby gone wild and we are loving every minute of it.

What are the most important skills for working in a brewery?

Attention to detail and cleanliness. A willingness to work long hours helps, too.

Out of all your beers, which brew are you proudest of?

I think our Townie Ale is our proudest achievement. While we have lots of great beers, Townie was our first commercial sale, and it’s made with all New York grain and a majority of the hops our grown on site by our sister company, Fawn Crossing Hops Farm.

 

 

s_Pizzeria_and_Brewery

Rip Van Winkle Brewing Co.

Catskill, NY
angelaspizzeriabrewery.com
Joey LoBianco

 

Why beer? What made you consider a career in brewing?

I love beer. In 1994 I started homebrewing in the kitchen of one of my restaurants, been in the foodservice industry all my life. I turned on friends, family and some special customers to great tasting beer.

In 1995 we were looking to open another restaurant and through a friend I met a gentleman who was one of the faculty at the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park, NY. He shared with us the idea of a small commercial brewery in a restaurant. There was nothing like that in the Hudson Valley.

We visited a couple of brewpubs in New York City and in Troy and made a trip to Boston. The thing that struck me was that some had great beers and mediocre food or great food and mediocre beers.

In April of 1996, we opened the Hyde Park Brewing Company. Our goal right from the start was great food with great beers.

We will be celebrating our 20th anniversary this coming April. In April of 2006 we opened the Skytop Steakhouse & Brewing Company. I removed the brewing equipment in 2012 and reinstalled that same brewhouse this past year at our location in Catskill, NY – Angela’s Pizzeria & Brewery. We’re incorporated as Rip Van Winkle Brewing Company and are planning some wholesale production under said name.

What are the most important skills for working in a brewery?

Common sense.

Common sense. Ability to multi task. Basic ingenuity. Knowledge and understanding of biology, chemistry & mathematics. Some knowledge and understanding of plumbing and electricity. Maybe a little experience with refrigeration. Clean freakiness is a must. Being organized. Common sense — I like common sense.

Last but not least: it’s business. Business is business… leave your ego at home.

Out of all your beers, which brew are you proudest of?

I think for me, personally, it’s our Winkle Lager. It’s a straightforward Bohemian Pilsner. We’ve brewed it for nearly 20 years and this coming year it will be brewed with water from the Land of Rip Van Winkle.

 

 

Griffs_Brewery

Griffs Brewery

Spencerport, NY
griffsbrewery.com
Patrick Cook, CEO

 

 

Why beer? What made you consider a career in brewing?

My business partner and Brewmaster, Shawn Griffin, has been home brewing for the past 5 years. His wife, Jessica, bought him a homebrew kit as a Fathers Day gift in 2010 and Shawn took to it like a fish to water. His imagination, creativity and natural aptitude for creating amazing beer is what got me interested in the beer initially.

I came aboard Shawn’s weekly brewing sessions in the spring of 2014 and learned a tremendous amount about the process and the science of brewing quality beer. It was a trial by brew kettle fire. As we began to collaborate on new beers and as they flew out the doors to our friends and family, many of the people who enjoyed our beer started to demand that we look into producing our beer professionally. It was the moment when all of the people who drank our beer insisted that we do this full time that became our watershed.

It was not us trying to sell people on the idea of selling our beer, it was their insistence and support that inspired us to make the leap. Then it just became a matter of spending enough evenings of Shawn and I going through our beer ourselves that we began to think of the possibility of making to start thinking that this crazy idea was possible.

What are the most important skills for working in a brewery?

Relentless attention to detail.

Quite simply, a relentless attention to detail is paramount. From maintaining a nearly neurotic level of care and cleanliness throughout the entire cooking process to accounting to the most minute chemistry when selecting ingredients, detail is the absolute key to working in a brewery.

Without that, a brewery can have all the bells and whistles that provide the most incredible presentation of a product, but will find a quick death if the beer is just not up to par.

Out of all your beers, which brew are you proudest of?

This is a tough question.

We have so much pride in every one of the 65 different beers we produce that there is a lot of love for every one. However, our Unique Existence IPA tends to stand above the rest.

We are tremendous fans of the Alchemist Brewery based out of Vermont and are ravenous for their world famous Heady Topper. Every time we open a can of that amazing brew we just fall in love with the complexity of their flavors and essences, so we set out last year to create an IPA of our own that could relate to the sophistication of that beer.

It was not a clone. In fact we took great care in not copying the grain or hop profile, but in the end we eagerly brought a sampling of our UE IPA to our local Upstate New York Homebrewers Association (UNYHA) meeting and the response from the members was amazing. In fact, and I say this in complete disbelief and humility to this day, several of the long-standing members who just recently had Heady Topper themselves said they preferred our creation.

I consider that one of the greatest compliments those very experienced beer enthusiasts could give a budding brewery, and that is why UE stands above the rest… a bit.

 

 

Woodland_Beer

Woodland Beer

Marcy, NY
woodlandbeer.com
A.J. Spado, Co-Founder

 

 

Why beer? What made you consider a career in brewing?

We love beer! We had been home brewing for many years and wanted to take it to the next level. The farm brewery act definitely was a catalyst for us. The industry being at such a successful point helped us make the jump as well.

What are the most important skills for working in a brewery?

Loving beer and being a student of beer. We really want to explore styles and techniques, especially barrel aging techniques.

 

Featured Image Credit: dongga BS, CC BY NC ND

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