Creating a Diversified Workforce The Key Behind Cahaba’s New Internship Program

A diversity of experience matters to Cahaba and Eric Meyer says the goal going forward for the Birmingham, Alabama brewery is to give education and knowledge to those seeking it.

The brewery recently announced a new paid internship opportunity focusing on craft beer production, marketing, management, and sales. This internship is dedicated to creating opportunities for the BIPOC community and other underrepresented communities in craft beer.

It’s being created, Meyer said, “so that they can walk in anywhere and be like, ‘Hey, I am a viable candidate for you. Not just hey, I can work for the packout line.’

Although other breweries have done similar internship programs, Cahaba was inspired by their first intern, Rodney Callier, who did a nine-week paid internship that canvased all parts of the brewery.

“His goal was more understanding the brewing process and trying to get the full aspect of the business,” Meyer told Brewer recently. “He said, ‘I don’t see myself truly ever becoming a brewer.’ But he can learn front-of-the-house management, those kinds of things, that would be more in his wheelhouse.

“We’re big in the beer world, especially at Cahaba, about understanding the basics of the entire process. You get a front-of-house person that knows about spray balls, CIPing, and the chemicals they use. Just that basic knowledge? The ability for him to be able to do a phenomenal job there just takes it to that next level.”

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The program will run quarterly and be available in either six or nine-week programs and will include hands-on teaching across key departments within a craft brewery, including production, management, sales, and marketing. The curriculum also includes studying for the level one Cicerone Certification and career support after the internship has ended.

“I’m gonna have them brew beer, work on recipe development — all at a very high level — but at least they can walk in the door of a brewery or any other industry can say yes, let me give you a few days worth of training and you’re rockin ‘and rollin’.”

Callier has worked in the culinary arts for eight years as a degreed chef. He’s earning his Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management from the University of Alabama.

He said in a release that he hopes to mix his experience in the service industry with the knowledge he gains from Cahaba’s internship program to work in the craft brewing industry and establish his brewpub.

“What I have learned so far is that the culinary world and the beverage world are very alike,” he said. “Everyone involved [at Cahaba] is very helpful and willing to help someone get an understanding of the processes and procedures for working in the brew house and craft beer industry.”

The Craft Beer Internship is funded by Cahaba and the Brewer’s Association, but other businesses have offered their support, including Turner Beverage, Pratt Industries, and Milo’s Tea. Each company has committed as a one-week sponsor for the Fall 2022 internship tract.

Individuals and organizations interested in sponsoring future internships through Cahaba Brewing Company’s 501c3, Cahaba Giving, can contact [email protected] for more information.

The breakdown of the internship is as follows:

​Six Week program​

  • WEEK 1 – Safety, cleanliness, introduction to the brewing process, and company history
  • WEEK 2 – Raw ingredients, packaging, brewery gas, chemicals, and evaluating beer.
  • WEEK 3 – Logistics, keg cleaning/filling, CIP FV, and forklift training.
  • WEEK 4 – Brewhouse operations, CIP Brite, transfer, and lab introduction.
  • WEEK 5 – Milling, dry hopping, yeast handling, and recipe development.
  • WEEK 6 – Small batch brew, heat exchanger, mechanical overview, and sensory.

Nine-week internship will ​also ​include:

  • WEEK 7 – Studying for the level one Cicerone Certification, event planning, taproom​ ​management, and other front-of-house duties.
  • WEEK 8 – Business development, strategy, leadership, and personnel development;​ ​customer relationship management, building brand awareness, and time management.
  • WEEK 9 – Developing marketing strategies and collateral for Taproom beer releases,​ ​canned beer, events, and spirits.

The Craft Beer Internship is set for two to four rotations per year. Interested individuals with a passion for craft beer should email [email protected].

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