Brewery workers/technicians are part of a brewing team that makes and packages beer, lager and stout for sale to pubs, shops and other outlets.
Brewing beer is a mixture of science, art and craft. Some brewers rely heavily on modern technology, while others use more traditional means and techniques.
Beer making involves a number of different stages:
- Weighing and measuring the ingredients
- The mixing and fermentation process
- Conditioning the beer
- Monitoring quality
- Labeling, packing and loading
Beer making starts with mixing malted barley, hops, yeast, water and sugar. The ingredients are then allowed to ferment. Brewery workers may be responsible for unloading raw materials, operating machinery, monitoring the temperature and quality of the beer or testing samples.
Once brewing has gone through the fermentation and processing steps, the beer is conditioned. For cask-conditioned beers (real ales), the beer goes directly into the cask, barrel or bottle. Other beers are brought to condition in the brewery. Some are clarified and filtered and some are pasteurised to guard against deterioration caused by microbes. They reach the consumer in casks, kegs, bottles or cans. For lagers, there is a longer period of conditioning in the brewery, at low temperatures.
Brewery workers/technicians may also be involved in packing and loading the beer for delivery to customers.
Most breweries use computerised machinery for much of the process and only certain work, such as weighing and measuring, is done by hand. Brewery workers have to be extremely careful about health and hygiene. Sterilising equipment and cleaning the work area is an important part of their job. They also have to keep a close watch on temperatures and keep records of ingredients.
Brewery workers might be involved in the whole process, or just certain stages. They usually work under the supervision of a technical brewer, who is responsible for the entire brewing process from start to finish, including the quality of the final product.
Employees in larger breweries normally work around 37 to 40 hours a week, usually on a shift system. Breweries not operating a continuous shift system tend to work a minimum of 40 hours plus additional overtime shifts.
Workers are likely to be operating machinery. They have to wear clothing such as overalls, boots and masks to protect themselves and to minimise the risk of contamination.
Starting salaries may be around £15,000 a year. Experienced brewery workers may earn around £22,000 a year.
Senior workers may earn £29,000 or more.
Those working on a shift system may get a shift allowance.
There are more than 13,900 people working in beer manufacturing sector across Britain. Numbers have fallen due to a decline in the number of breweries and increased use of automated processes.
Employment is concentrated in the east of England, where more than 2,600 workers are based, followed by the Yorkshire and Humber and the West Midlands.
Most brewery workers/technicians are employed by the large brewing companies, but there are also smaller, independent breweries. Many of these are family run or employ few staff.
Details of brewing companies are available from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) or the British Beer and Pub Association.
Jobs are advertised in local and national newspapers, on company websites and through recruitment agencies and Jobcentre Plus.
It may be possible to enter through an Apprenticeship specialising in food manufacture.
Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.
Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.
There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Progression from production assistant or packaging operative type roles may be possible. These job roles do not necessarily have any entry requirements, although GCSE's (grades A*-C) in English, maths, science or food technology may be useful.
The Diploma in manufacturing and product design may be relevant for this area of work.
Employees train on the job, often alongside an experienced member of staff. Some breweries give staff the opportunity to take part-time courses and work towards qualifications, such as NVQ's. There are NVQ's at Levels 1, 2 and 3 in food manufacture.
Working towards qualifications may involve attending a college or training centre on day release, as well as assessments in the workplace.
The National Skills Academy for Food and Drink Manufacturing website lists food- and drink-related training, qualifications and training providers across the UK.
Brewing Research International (BRI) offers short, specialist courses and the Institute of Brewing & Distilling (IBD) offers a range of courses, some of which lead to qualifications.
Laboratory technicians carry out routine laboratory tests and perform a variety of technical support functions to help scientists, technologists and others with their work. They can work in research and development, scientific analysis and testing, education and manufacturing.
They are employed in a wide range of scientific fields which affect almost every aspect of our lives.
Brewery workers/technicians should:
In larger companies, brewery workers/technicians could progress to supervisory level jobs. There are some opportunities to move into roles such as craft technical brewer, which usually require study at a higher level.
Brewing Research International (BRI),
Lyttel Hall, Coopers Hill Road, Nutfield, Surrey RH1 4HY
Tel: 01737 822272
British Beer and Pub Association,
Market Towers, 1 Nine Elms Lane, London SW8 5NQ
Tel: 020 7627 9191
Careers in Food and Drink
Food and Drink Federation,
6 Catherine Street, London WC2B 5JJ
Tel: 020 7836 2460
Improve Ltd, Ground Floor,
Providence House, 2 Innovation Close, Heslington, York YO10 5ZF
Tel: 0845 644 0448
International Centre for Brewing and Distilling (ICBD),
School of Life Sciences, John Muir Building,
Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh EH14 4AS
Tel: 0131 451 3183
The Institute of Brewing & Distilling (IBD),
33 Clarges Street, London W1J 7EE
Tel: 020 7499 8144
Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA)
Tel: 0845 337 9158
The National Skills Academy for Food and Drink Manufacturing,
Ground Floor, Providence House, 2 Innovation Close, Heslington, York YO10 5ZF
Tel: 0845 644 0558
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.