I want to share another aspiring brewer story. This one I received yesterday and man I am excited for this guy (Owen). What dedication! What an idea!
Here we go:
"I wanted to briefly share with you my journey as an aspiring brewer, mostly for reasons of camaraderie because it seems like we have a lot in common - I'm a young, a recent college grad with a degree in biology and a desire to enter the brewing world despite limited 'field' experience. I just graduated from Brown University in Rhode Island this past May, where I developed my interest in brewing and craft beer. I've been homebrewing for a little over a year now and got so into beer last year that I was able to design my own class on all things beer - its history, brewing science, the brewing industry, and how to appreciate a good beer (sensory evaluation, choosing the right glass, all that frou-frou stuff that I can't get enough of) - and I got credit for all this nonsense! I was able to visit most of the brewers in the state of Rhode Island and sit in on a couple brew sessions, as well as volunteer for the Great International Beer Fest (it was an absolute shit show. Got a ride home in the back of a cop car but luckily wasn't arrested). I read as much beer literature as possible and got so psyched about beer that I made it my mission to pursue a career in the beer industry, specifically brewing.
Now, you're right that it's exceedingly difficult to find a job without any experience. I explored probrewer.com as well and nearly all the classifieds required some experience. How do you get an entry-level job if they all require experience? So, I got creative. I've always yearned to travel, especially to Europe, and I had heard of a cheap way to do so through a program called Willing Workers On Organic Farms (WWOOF). I thought, "There must be some way I could tie brewing into this..." and, sure enough, I searched the database of farms and found a handful of them that have microbreweries. (Through the WWOOF program, volunteers find farms and work for them in exchange for room and board... most of the places produce vegetables, meat, cheese, and sometimes wine, but there are several farms that produce special value-added products). So, in less than a month I'll be starting in France at a farm that grows its own hops and barley to produce Belgian-style beers (my fave) with such oddities as walnuts and truffles. I hope to find other breweries in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the UK, and Ireland. After this trip (which I hope will last up to a year) I'll be back in the states with some experience under my belt and a whole lot of enthusiasm! I'm still considering brewing school, but I'll just have to play it by ear. I've also got a blog started that will document my adventures when I leave on September 4th; if you're interested, it can be found at www.thewashedrind.blogspot.com
Cheers, Prosit, and Skoal!