Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Apprentice is a word I've always liked the sound of. It brings to my mind images of the young blacksmith or carpenter in the fantasy days of old, apprenticed to the master, working long and hard to become an expert in his own right. I've read many a story where the apprentice was able to overcome insurmountable odds to beat the antagonist and save the day.

And now I'm going to get to be one! Except... I'm apprenticing with a Brewer!! Specifically, Kim Kowalski of Mountain Town Station and Mt Pleasant Brewing Co. I'll be moving to Mount Pleasant in about 2 months, and working pro bono for the first six months. Fortunately, I should be able to cover my living expenses while I do this, and will probably get a part time job so I'm not completely broke all the time!

I owe Scott Isham of Harper's a BIG thank you for all of this! I went and brewed with Scott back almost a month ago, after talking to him at the Master Brewers Association Summer Social Picnic and asking if I could come and join him for a day. I made it pretty clear that I was wanting to get into the brewing industry. I asked him for advice about how to proceed, and he gave me very good advice and gave me some names of people to contact.

A week and a half or so later, Scott called me and mentioned that he had just gotten off the phone with his friend Kim at Mountain Town Station, and Kim was saying that he was getting behind and very busy. Scott told me I should call Kim and ask if I could brew with him. So I immediately called Kim, and set up a day to brew with him the next week. We were at the brewery (as opposed to the brewpub) and we made their stout and labeled a bunch of bottles. I had a blast, and got along well with Kim and his Assistant Brewer, Brad. I decided to make sure I got back again.

So I had the day off today, and what I had planned didn't need to happen anymore. So I called Kim and asked if he would like for me to come up and brew with him again, and he said yes. So I went off to Mt Pleasant and this time worked in the brewpub, which is kind of neat since it's on three levels and has a restaurant. We brewed Oktoberfest, and transferred some Stout from a fermenter to a serving vessel.

So I asked Kim, if he would be up for taking on a new apprentice sometime soon. Brad started this way, apprenticed with Kim for no money for a while and then was hired in full time as an assistant brewer, so I knew the precedence was there. Kim said he would be happy to take me on as apprentice!

I am so totally stoked about this! Getting into the brewing industry is tough. It's kind of a "good ol'boy" industry, lots of friends and the like. After talking to some brewers, it seems that starting out with some good brewing based education is maybe not the best bet. A brewery/brewer is not likely to want to hire you if you've not brewed somewhere before and have some good experience. This doesn't mean some education is out of the question, in fact I think an associate degree in Microbiology might be a good idea, or maybe I'll do the Siebel courses on Germany or something. Either way, I'll work in Mt Pleasant for a while, at least two years and hopefully more. The brewery is growing quickly, so hopefully this will be a good opportunity to grow with it. Then maybe in five years or so I can try and work someplace like Bell's or Dogfish Head.

Well, I'm sure I'll have more to follow, but as it is I need to go to bed...


Smitty said...

I see that your boss offered you a raise to stay. A huge one.

Think about where you want to be in 5 years. Then go that way.

Bob said...

Go with the dream and sacrifice before you are tied down and cannot do the job you want to do.

I am betting you could come back to your current job if the brewer thing didn't work out?

I like the thought of being an apprentice too, but I usually think Shoemakers apprentice, which one of my grandfather's almost became. Better yet, I more often think of Apprentice of the Jedi order, where you will be training under Obi Wan as a youngling until proper age.

Smitty said...

Does porn have apprentices?

Bob said...

"Does porn have apprentices?

Yes, it once did, but all the dudes had to apprentice under other Master Porno dudes, so the whole porno-industry apprenticeship program collapsed due to homophobia. Guys just could not take instruction from other guys telling them how to have sex.

It still thrives in gay and lesbian porn, where hands-on instruction is the rule.

Sopor said...

WOH! Oh my god, what's this? Comments on one of MY blogs? I never suspected! (Which is why it took me 6 days to notice!)

Yea the whole raise thing is tough. As much as I want to chase my dream now, it would be very financially smart of me to take the raise and get all my debt paid off first. It will be hard enough doing 6 months with no pay, but after that I still won't get paid much.

Today should be the day I learn whether or not Corporate is going to approve my raise. If they don't... then it's off to Mt Pleasant!

Sam said...

raise or not, go do what you want. money is always out there. i am a professional brewer in kentucky. prior to that i was a counselor for at risk youth. very rewarding, both financially and emotionally. however, its not my thing. so i took an enormous pay cut and started brewing. i am currently an assistant. there is a great deal of prosperity within this industry right now and its only a matter of how bad do you want it. go for it. money is always gonna be there. but the time you can devote now (no family, no wife, young...im guessing) will propel you further than you can imagine. best of luck.