Posts Tagged ‘hours’

In Brewery, Beer Schedules You!

April 27, 2011 1 comment

Welcome to my own personal economic downturn. There’s been little for me to do at The Bruery so I’ve only been in twice this week and today’s the start of a very long weekend. This displeases my wallet and speaks to a brewing reality that is worth delving into: if you aspire to enter the industry be sure to consider how flexible you can be. I’m not referencing the ability to “twist and turn, reach over your shoulders, bend and stoop” that every brewer’s help wanted ad mentions; I’m talking about choosing a flexible lifestyle.  If you need a steady, dependable schedule to anchor your life you won’t find it making beer.

All things considered, my hours are relatively easy to handle. Packaging takes place between 8 and 5 and The Bruery tries to stick to weekdays whenever possible.  I typically find out each week’s schedule on the last day of the prior week. My scheduled days do sometimes change at the last minute, but that’s unusual. Full-time employees know they work every day but their hours vary widely. With our two brewer, 1 – 3 batch per day schedule one brewer generally comes in as a early as 4AM to get the brewday started and the other stays into the evening to finish up. Their days last between 8 and 12 hours, depending on what’s brewing and how busy we’ve been in the preceding week.

My friend Nick brews at Ballast Point and confirmed that our malleable schedule is hardly unusual, even for a larger outfit. Though Ballast Point’s annual production is 10 times The Bruery’s, their employees’ hours still change on a day-to-day basis. I imagine that life doesn’t become more predictable unless you work for a brewery like Stone that’s brewing 24/7. Most of the daily variation is simply unavoidable. For instance, higher alcohol beers require longer lauter times. The Bruery’s boil lasts anywhere from 20 minutes to 4 hours depending on the beer. Schedules have to change if a fermentation takes longer than expected or ingredient deliveries get delayed. There are very few brewery processes that can be paused, so it’s necessary to keep working until the task is complete, quitting time or no quitting time. Unless we’re bottling a full day’s worth of beer we avoid taking any breaks until we’ve finished.

Some might find the brewer’s schedule unsettling, but I find it invigorating. One of the joys of life is that every day has the potential to be different, if only we’re willing to capitalize on the endless possibilities afforded to us. The average full-time job imbues our days with an unrelenting sameness that hinders one’s perception of these possibilities. The inertia of the daily grind lends itself to a stagnant existence against which we should constantly struggle. So while I would certainly appreciate having an extra day on my time card this week, I remember to value the less tangible benefits of the brewer’s lifestyle. If you believe that you’ll feel the same, you just might enjoy brewery work as much as I do.