Technical Brewer

The Job and What's Involved

Local BrewaryTechnical brewers manage the entire process of producing beer and lager in both large and smaller local breweries.

As a technical brewer, they are responsible for:


  • Assessing existing and new suppliers.
  • Managing a team of operatives and technicians.
  • Monitoring the condition and smooth running of the plant and equipment.
  • Liaising with engineering colleagues.
  • Checking the product at regular intervals for taste, strength and appearance and adjusting the production process, where necessary, liaising with the laboratory team who make further tests for consistency and quality.
  • Designing, testing and producing new beers, possibly for a season or celebration period, and overseeing label design.
  • Introducing and testing new methods of brewing.
  • Keeping detailed records of raw materials, quality checks and production stages.
  • Planning budgets, warehousing and stock control.

In a large brewery, production is highly automated and a technical brewer is likely to specialise in one part of the process. In smaller breweries, the brewer may be responsible for a number of parts or the whole process.

Technical brewers usually work a set number of hours a week. As brewing is a continuous process, they work a shift pattern, usually including nights and weekends.

In a small brewery, the brewer mainly oversees work in the production area, which involves wearing protective clothing and can be hot, wet and noisy. The work can be physically demanding, involving a lot of walking and climbing ladders to monitor production. In large breweries with high levels of automation, the brewer may spend more time in the control room. In both cases, technical brewers are likely to spend some time working at a desk.

Typical starting salaries may be around £18,000 to £20,000 a year.

A shift brewer may earn around £25,000 to £30,000 a year and a head brewer in a fairly large company may earn more than £40,000 a year.

There are often a good range of employer benefits available when employed by a brewery.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are about 13,900 people working in the beer manufacturing sector across the UK, which equates to three per cent of all people employed within the food and drink manufacturing industry. Numbers have fallen due to a decline in the number of breweries and increased use of automated processes.

Opportunities exist around the UK in an increasing number of micro-breweries, but employment is concentrated in larger production plants in the East of England, Yorkshire and Humber, West Midlands and North West.

Most technical brewers are employed by the large brewing companies, but there are also some smaller, independent breweries and micro-breweries.

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, journals such as Food Manufacture, company websites and recruitment consultancies, in addition to recruitment websites such as www.foodmanjobs.co.uk.

Education and Training

The Diploma in manufacturing and product design may be relevant for this area of work. It combines academic and practical learning with the opportunity to work with a variety of employers and complete at least ten days' work experience.

An Apprenticeship specialising in food manufacture may also provide an entry route.

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.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

A degree is the normal entry requirement for a career as a technical brewer. There are often graduate opportunities within the beer manufacturing sector. Heriot-Watt University offer a degree in brewing and distilling. However a degree in one of the following subjects would also be relevant to work as a technical brewer:

- Food science or technology
- Food studies
- Brewing and distilling
- Applied chemistry
- Biology
- Biochemistry
- Microbiology
- Chemical and/or mechanical engineering

As a guide, minimum requirements for entry onto a foundation degree course are normally one A level and three to four GCSE's (A*-C), or equivalent; for a degree course, the minimum requirements are normally two A levels and five GCSE's (A*-C), usually to include English and maths, or equivalent. A level subject requirements will depend on the degree course, but usually chemistry and biology would be preferred or essential. Food technology and product design may also be useful.

In addition specific postgraduate courses can also be taken, such as the Masters in brewing science at Nottingham University.

Progression from production assistant or brewery work/technician type roles may be possible. These job roles do not necessarily have any entry requirements, although GCSE's (A*-C) in English, maths and science or food technology may be useful.

Work experience, within a brewery organisation within the brewing sector, is advantageous when looking to progress to a technical brewer job role.

Organisations such as Brewlab Ltd can be helpful in providing information and training if you are considering setting up a micro-brewery.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Working towards qualifications may involve attending a college or training centre on day release.

The Institute for Brewing and Distilling offers a number of qualifications for individuals working in the field to gain professional recognition. Courses currently on offer include the following:

  • Fundamentals of brewing and packaging.
  • General certificates in brewing, distilling and packaging.
  • Diplomas in beverage packaging, brewing modules and distilling modules.
  • Master Brewer modules.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A technical brewer needs:

  • Good scientific ability, especially in biology and chemistry.
  • A good knowledge of engineering and an understanding of machinery.
  • Strong practical skills.
  • IT skills.
  • To be good at making decisions and solving problems.
  • To pay close attention to detail.
  • Management, organisational and interpersonal skills to lead a production team.
  • Strong oral and written communication skills.
  • Sound business sense, particularly when working in a small organisation.

Your Long Term Prospects

It may be necessary to move between employers to progress. In a large brewery, progression may be possible to departmental manager, then technical director or senior brewer. Experienced brewers may consider setting up their own micro- brewery.

There may be opportunities to work overseas.

Get Further Information

Brewlab Ltd, 18/19 Bridge House,
Bridge Street, Sunderland,
Tyne and Wear SR1 1TE
Tel: 0191514746
Website: www.brewlab.co.uk

British Beer & Pub Association,
Market Towers, 1 Nine Elms Lane,
London SW8 5NQ
Tel: 020 7627 9191
Website: www.beerandpub.com

Food and Drink Federation,
6 Catherine Street,
London WC2B 5JJ
Tel: 020 7836 2460
Website: www.fdf.org.uk

Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh,
Edinburgh Campus, Edinburgh, EH14 4AS
Tel: 0131 449 5111
Website: www.hw.ac.uk

Improve Ltd, Ground Floor, Providence House,
2 Innovation Close, Heslington, York YO10 5ZF
Tel: 0845 644 0448
Website: www.improveltd.co.uk

The Institute of Brewing & Distilling (IBD),
33 Clarges Street, London W1J 7EE
Tel: 020 7499 8144
Website: www.ibd.org.uk

Nottingham University, The Enquiry Centre,
Kings Meadow Campus, Lenton Lane,
Nottingham NG7 2NR
Tel: 44 (0) 115 951 5151
Website: www.nottingham.ac.uk

Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA)
Tel: 0845 337 9158
Website: www.siba.co.uk

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