Do You Need a Head Brewer?

Before the headline really makes readers too upset, the short answer is … probably.

The true variables are based on your own personal experience before ownership.

If you were a head brewer elsewhere and now own your own brewery, initially you may not need a professional on the brewing side, at least not immediately.

When we opened our Test Kitchen in 2019 I didn’t plan on being the brewer. However, hiring for a barrel-and-a-half system isn’t all that easy. With endless hours of homebrewing experience, I simply taught myself how to use the new Sabco system — which I know a lot of professional brewers will scoff at. As we grew I eventually brought on a brewer to assist in operations while I still handled recipe development.

One area that I believe sets good entrepreneurs apart from bad ones is the ability to see their own weaknesses. While many owners will have minor experience in many facets of their business, employees who can focus on one single area can truly improve systems, products, and such. Once we grew into our current 10-barrel system it was much easier to attract a full-time head brewer. Although we had recipes developed years prior, I knew we wanted a head brewer to oversee our brewing operations — and that’s the direction we went.

In brewing, your marketing and business plan can be foolproof but in today’s climate if your product isn’t fantastic you will certainly struggle. While a head brewer isn’t a cheap undertaking for any company, what it can do for your brewing business is insurmountable. In hiring a head brewer, our products quickly improved which increased sales both in-house and in distribution.

Additionally, from an owner’s perspective, having someone that’s overseeing another side of operations has allowed for focus to be on other areas of the business, which also assists in growth. If your role within your business is handling brewing operations you may not necessarily need a head brewer. Although hiring a brewer or multiple brewers hourly can allow you to divert your time elsewhere and still maintain the consistent product you develop.

One element that many entrepreneurs miss is the idea of options. You don’t have to absolutely structure a position one way or another. There are more ways to diversify your employees and fill needs as you grow.

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