8 Facts About Brewmasters

If you take a look around with in the past few years the craft beer industry has exploded. Everyone is talking about craft beers and the number of breweries seems to be limitless.

Between 2008 and 2016, the number of brewery establishments expanded by a factor of six, and the number of brewery workers grew by 120 percent.

This means that you now don’t have to work in a larger brewery just to work in this wonderful industry. Though how much do you really know about people who work in breweries?

Don’t worry FoodGrads has you covered because this week we are taking a look a brewmasters, professionals who combine passion and science to make tasty drinks.

1. Brewmasters brew beer

Brewmasters are professionals responsible for:

all the duties related to brewing beer. These duties include making beer, preparing beer mixtures, cleaning and keeping an eye on fermenting processes. This profession is very physical because brewmasters spend a lot of time cleaning tanks and equipment. Cleaning is an essential chore because it ensures safe, quality product.

If the brewmaster is in a more senior position they will be required to manage other brewery personnel and resources.  There are many people involved in making beer. So brewmaster must stay on their toes watching workers perform their daily duties.  This includes watching that the machine controls are set to right conditions through the use of process tools (etc. pressure gauges, indicator).

The funnest part of the a brewmasters job might be tasting. Through out the beer making process brewmasters have to taste the beer and make adjustments during the fermentation process. They check for texture, consistency, dryness and cleanliness of the product.

2. Brewmasters must understand beer

Beer is as simple or as complex as you want to make it. Whether they strongly understand the science behind it or not, it doesn’t matter because brewmasters understand how different actions affect the beer.  For example, if a production of beer was found to be skunky they might figure out it was caused by the beer being incorrectly stored.

Alternatively, brewmasters may have have an a strong background in chemistry fundamentals as they apply to the production of wort and beer. These professionals have understand the properties of gases and liquids, thermodynamics, pH and pressure, and how they influence brewery production processes and beer quality.

Brewmasters when they have been in the business for long enough can detect the smallest changes in their beer. To them making beer is a way of life and they use their intuition to solve problems.

3. Brewmasters have this education

The educational requirements for becoming a brewmaster can vary by brewery. The term “brewmaster” is usually reserved for someone with a lot of years of experience as this position is higher in the organizational ladder.If you want to become a brewmaster you likely have to start at the bottom of ladder by performing roles such as a keg cleaner or cellar work.

This is an occupation where can enter without a a formal education. However, you need to have a lot of year experience. In contrast, having a formal education will not guarantee a job either because it is a higher level job. You need to work your way up.

If you are looking to get a head start there are many colleges that offers an education in beer.  For example, Niagara college in Ontario, Canada offers a Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management

Alternatively, some people start their own breweries without any experience in the industry. All they started with is a passion for beer and a garage brewing kit. So through a lot of hard work you could start your own brewery and then you wouldn’t need to apply for outside companies!

4. Brewmasters spend a lot time cleaning

Being a brewmaster isn’t as a glamorous as you might think it would be. Brewing beers requires an extensive amount of cleaning because tanks of beer constantly are being filled and refilled. Pipes carrying fluids can breed bacteria if they are not kept up with. Beer is very finicky where it can pick up off flavours so cleaning is important!

Here is an outline of a standard tank cleaning procedure:

  1. Pre-rinse: Cold or tepid plain water
  2. Cleaning: Hot water and cleanser (typically, caustic soda).
  3. Acid rinse: Cold or warm water and acid- based solution
  4. Water rinse: Cold water rinse
  5. Post-rinse sanitation: Tepid water and disinfectant

Imagine how much time that would take!

5. Brewmasters sometime new formulations

One the funner parts of this occupation is creating new formulations of beer. This includes selecting raw materials that are used in the brewing process and working with supplier. The brewmaster may have to perform or organize scientific tests on the raw materials to ensure they have specific qualities necessary for beer making.

This process involves a lot of process and error but the end results are worth it.

6. Brewmasters manage people

Depending on the size of a company, brewmasters can be responsible for the all the operations in a brewery. These professionals oversee the daily operations and ensure they meet scheduled production requirements. Not only do they focus on the quality of the beer but also the health and safety to the employees.

Overall, they different management responsibilities including annual plans, budgets, labour management, scheduling of work, legal compliance and record keeping.

7. Brewmasters ensure quality 

There are so many aspects involved in maintaining the quality of beer. Brewmasters have an attention for detail and follow everything that is going on in their breweries. Keeping an eye isn’t enough as quantitative tests are also needed. Some breweries pay a lot of attention to more analytical tests. This role might even be taken on by a quality control/assurance technician.

Irregardless, these are some examples of some tests that brewmasters might perform to ensure the quality of their product.

  • CO2: Beer by nature has carbonation but if you have too much CO2 your beer fill fall everywhere when you pour it. In contrast, if you have too little then you will have no foam at all. Brewmasters check the CO2 of their beer through a pressure reading based on the temperature of the beer.
  • Dissolved Oxygen (DO): Oxygen is something you don’t want in your beer. Oxygen can cause beer to oxidize which yields a paper/cardboard flavour over time, especially if beer is kept warm. DO can be measured using a DO meter. 
  • Microbio: Beer uses microorganisms like yeast to produce the fermentation required for beer. Brewmasters need to check for unwanted organisms through the use of plating. For example, a bacteria you would not want to find in your beer is lactobacillus. This is an anaerobic bacteria that produces lactic acid which will make the beer sour.

8. Brewmasters have these set of skills

Being a brewmaster requires a range of skills however there are a few which are more essential than others. These skills include:

  • Good Communicator– Brewmasters must be able to effectively communicate through all levels of the organization from trainees to account managers. This is because staff need to clearly understand if there is a facility what should be done in order to resolve the issue fast. As well, they have the ability to management meetings to transmit and discuss all brewing-related information.
  • Trainer- Brewmasters know the most about beer than anyone. Therefore, they need to be able to train others, including assistant brewers, packagers, and anyone else who works on the production floor. These professionals have an have to the ability to motivate their workers!
  • Adaptability- If you want to be a well-rounded brewmaster you have to be adaptable to the situations which might arise in a brewery. Things constantly change and something might unexpected might happen. Such as the cleaning process may not have worked properly. These individuals need to be flexible with the situations and understand the change.

Author: Veronica Hislop – Veronica is a recent FoodGrad working as Quality Assurance Technician at a snack food company. She graduated with a Chemistry degree at Ryerson University and has a passion for bringing awareness to sustainability in the food industry. When Veronica is taking a break from her food endeavours you will find her at home reading a great novel and playing with her cats.


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