Continuous ‘Work in Progress’ Creed Leads to Innovation for Erie Brewing

Improving quality and getting recognized regionally are some goals set for new Master Brewer Shaun Carney as he undertakes his new role with Erie Brewing Company.

After three years at Sixpoint Brewing as an assistant, Carney accepted his new role with Erie in August and said adjustments in quality is a non-stop work in progress for any brewery.

“I came from a place that used GC/MS, UV/Vis spectrophotometers, Anton Paar alcolyzers, and other expensive instruments multiple times per day; things that I was used to using from school,” he explained. “Since we are such a small brewery, comparatively, some of those are beyond our budget here, but that doesn’t mean that we have to abandon QA/QC all together, it just means we have to go about it in a different way.”

Carney said he likes to bring a philosophy of repeatability to his work.

Repeatability in the process, repeatability in the flavors and aroma, and repeatability in drinking the beer.

“I consider most everything in brewing to be a work in progress as continuous improvement is vital to all aspects,” he said, “as we discover what works, what doesn’t, what methods we modify to make work for us. These are the things that I think all great beer is built on and is something we can put in place at our current brewery and take with us to the new one.”


Although Erie has stood longer than many East Coast regional breweries, name recognition is not as strong for the Pennsylvania brewery.

Carney said that getting Erie to stand along side names like Dogfish Head, Founders and Victory is an exciting challenge.

“I don’t think Erie will ever be on par with those guys from a volume and capacity level, but there are plenty of other breweries who are at or beyond that from a quality and innovation standpoint and that is where I want to take Erie,” he said.

Carney started his career with The Brewerie at Union Station in Erie, Pennsylvania and quickly moved on working at Sixpoint, first as an assistant and later as a Production Brewer. That leap from 3.5-barrels to 300-plus helped shape him into what he see is important as a Master Brewers.

“It forced me to learn quick,” he said. “A lot of what I did at the time was QA/QC and R&D related, but the pace and number of things going on at the same time really sped up the learning process; it was a real eat or get eaten type of situation. My biggest takeaways, though, are pace and process. Having a process in place helps with consistency and helps improve the quality of the beer, something I’ve been stressing here since day one. The pace at a large brewery like that is unreal. You’re brewing, packaging, filtering, transferring nonstop, 24 hours a day, getting phone calls, emails, and texts at all hours of the day, but because the pace was so fast, you had to be good at planning ahead.”

With a new brewery slated to be online in the spring of 2017 for Erie, Carney sees the future home as a place to work on innovation and new ideas.

“I’m looking at the time right now as a time to experiment with new processes and techniques as well as some new beer styles and go in a different direction with some of these small batch beers,” he said. “We have the Erie sERIEs of beers which was a line of small, one-off beers that would most likely never be brewed again. It had started to die off a bit before I took over, and one of the first things I wanted to do was revive that.

“It’s a playground for wild and crazy ideas, like I previously mentioned, go in different direction from what Erie has traditionally done.”

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