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...