A brewmaster is a person who makes beer. They may also be called a brewer,
head brewer or brewster.
A beer is any drink made by fermenting malted barley that is seasoned with
hops. Other key ingredients are water and yeast. There are as many different
techniques of brewing beer as there are types of beer.
There are several different types of breweries in North America. Here are
some definitions from the Association of Brewers website:
Microbrewery: A brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels
of beer per year.
Brew pub: A restaurant-brewery that sells the majority of its beer
on site. The beer is brewed primarily for sale in the restaurant and bar.
Contract brewing company: A business that hires another company
to produce its beer. The contract brewing company handles marketing, sales
and distribution of its beer, while generally leaving the brewing and packaging
to its producer-brewery.
Regional brewery: A brewery with the capacity to brew between 15,000
and two million barrels.
Regional specialty brewery: A regional-scale brewery whose flagship
brand is an all-malt or specialty beer.
A brewmaster is in charge of the entire process of making beer. This includes
mixing ingredients, developing recipes and overseeing the fermentation process.
"It is a trade by heart, part science and part art," says Texas brewmaster
In smaller plants, the brewer is also in charge of operating all the equipment,
looking after quality control and helping to fix the machinery that is used
to distill beer.
"I'm the president of the company, and I've got rubber boots on," says
brewmaster Michael Hancock. "I've got to be able to do a little bit of everything."
A brewmaster is in charge of operation planning, labor, quality control,
looking after broken equipment, engineering new systems to distill the beer,
purchasing raw materials, customer service and new product development. "I
manage all aspects of beer production, including packaging," says British
brewer Paul Ambler.
At larger companies, the brewmaster is still in charge of production, but
usually as an administrator. The brewer is in charge of the quality control
of raw materials and the end product. However, assistants usually do the physical
labor while the brewmaster does more paperwork.
Larsen specializes in making ales, wheat and amber style beers. Most of
his duties involve making beer, but he has other responsibilities, too.
For instance, he explains the brewing process to customers, meets with
management and orders supplies and ingredients. "I am required to interact
with many different people through the course of a single month," Larsen says.
The hours that brewers put in depend on where they work. In a larger company,
a brewmaster who oversees production would probably work a regular 9-to-5
day. However, in smaller companies, a brewer may work irregular and long hours.
"I start at 7 a.m. and work long hours trying to do several jobs at once,"
says Nat Hills in Maine. Once the beer is produced, Hills also has to take
the extra time to deliver it to customers. "I work even longer hours during
the tourist season."
An administrative position won't include as much physical work. However,
most brewmasters have their hands in the entire brewing process. This means
they have to lift heavy crates, mix ingredients and fix broken equipment.
"I have to run upstairs and transfer a batch, and then quickly go downstairs
to do something else," says Hills. "It can be tiring having to do so many
things at once."
Despite some of the recent setbacks, experts predict a continued growth
in the brewing industry, mostly in the microbrewery market. "Smaller breweries
are springing up all over North America," says brewer Ellen Bounsall. "I think
there is still room for growth in these microbreweries."
People are developing more of a taste for specialty beers, says Jim Klisch,
a brewmaster in Wisconsin. "Interest in the microbrewing field has taken off
because we are able to fulfill their desire for hand-crafted specialty beer,"
he says. "Consequently, the demand for skilled brewmasters is increasing."
Beer making has a long history in North America. In 1876, the United States
had more than 2,600 breweries. This number decreased to 1,100 in 1919. After
Prohibition -- a law making it illegal to manufacture or sell alcohol -- only
700 breweries reopened their doors. The number of breweries continued to decline,
and in the mid-'70s there were only 40 in the entire country.
But beer's popularity is on the rise once again, thanks to relaxed laws
regarding home brewing and a growing public interest in foreign beers.
Brew beer or oversee the production of beer