Technical brewers are responsible for managing the process of brewing and packaging beer. They are responsible for the quality and consistency of the product.
The role involves:
A technical brewer may specialise in just one area of production, which is particularly likely in larger breweries, while they may be responsible for all aspects of the process in small breweries.
Technical brewing remains a hands-on occupation, despite increasing reliance on technology.
Technical brewers can oversee all stages of production or they can specialise in one area; however common tasks can include:
Salary figures are intended as a guide only.
A degree is typically required for entry into the role of a technical brewer. Relevant subjects include:
The International Centre for Brewing and Distilling (ICBD) at Heriot-Watt University is the only organisation in the UK to offer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in brewing and distilling.
Postgraduate courses may be useful for those who do not have a related first degree. The University of Nottingham offers a Masters in brewing science but other subjects that may include brewing, such as biotechnology, may also be helpful. The University of Sheffield offers an MSc in Mircrobrewing for science and engineering graduates.
Entry without a degree may be possible at the level of production assistant or brewery technician and it may then be possible to work up to the role of technical brewer with experience and further qualifications. The Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) offers a range of training courses including the Fundamentals of Distilling and Fundamentals of Brewing and Packaging, which are useful for those who need more experience.
Pre-entry experience in a brewing environment is useful. The larger breweries may be able to offer work placements or shadowing opportunities. Management skills are also highly valued so any experience that demonstrates these skills will be advantageous.
Candidates need to show evidence of the following:
Some large brewery companies operate graduate recruitment schemes but places are limited and company websites should be checked for details of vacancies.
For more information, see work experience and internships and search courses and research.
Larger breweries offer more structured training programmes, which may involve visiting other production sites to gain an insight into how the whole business functions.
The Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) offers a range of training courses that are suitable for those who need to expand their knowledge and experience. The qualifications include general certificates and also diplomas in:
Brewlab also offers a variety of training programmes, which range from one day workshops to three-month courses.
Continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities are available through the key professional bodies. For example, the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling (ICBD) and Brewing Research International (BRI) offer short courses and advanced training units to enable industry professionals to develop knowledge of specialist areas or new developments within the sector. Contact individual bodies for further details.
It is possible to progress to the role of departmental manager, head brewer or technical director. With these more advanced roles comes a shift in emphasis, from plant or planning tasks to staff management and strategic issues.
Some technical brewers may need to move breweries or be prepared to relocate in order to progress in their career.
Those aiming towards senior posts need to be able to lead a team of specialists and maintain an understanding of new research. As well as technical and scientific knowledge and an ability to manage people, an aptitude for business is essential. For example, an understanding of financial data systems is important for a departmental manager and vital for a head brewer. Sales, marketing and commercial experience prior to joining the profession is therefore an advantage.
Larger companies may provide the opportunity to progress into logistics, purchasing, quality assurance or health and safety roles.
Some technical brewers may go on to set up their own micro-brewery once they have gained significant experience. Brewlab offers a three-day course in Start Up Brewing, which is designed for those who are considering setting up their own micro-brewery.
Large brewing companies are the main employers of technical brewers but opportunities are also available in small or regional breweries.
Details of brewing companies can be found through the:
There are also opportunities to work in breweries abroad as UK brewing qualifications are recognised on an international level. There are many international companies within the industry.
Individuals with extensive experience in the field may move on to working within education and research.
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