Most of our articles have been focused on the craft beer industry, beer styles, competitions, etc.
This week, we wanted to change it up a little bit and talk about the men (and women) behind the curtain who bring you these finely crafted works of fermentation art. As any employee will tell you, it's hard work.
Let's start with the back of house, brewery production. Most may think to be a beer brewer is extremely glamorous - some even say the best job ever. I won't lie, it probably is the best job ever primarily because we love what we do and get to see people enjoy our work.
However, being a brewer doesn't mean you're drinking beer all day, hanging out sampling different barrels and doing the swirling motion with your glass while taking tasting notes in an office that smells of mahogany overlooking giant stainless steel tanks.
When people ask if that's what we do, it's hard not to laugh a little bit. Most of our job consists of cleaning. We clean tanks, floors, hoses, walls, drains, etc. You name it, it has to be maintained and cleaned. It involves heavy-duty caustics and acids that if mishandled can lead to injury or even death. Safety is our No. 1 priority.
In between cleaning, there's brewing. Brewing is a combination of carefully monitored steps of the brewing process. During some of those steps, we'll be handling sacks of grain, hops, yeast and water. That's where the true art of brewing plays in and that's what we live for. Once the beer is made, it then has to be transferred, carbonated, measured and packaged. What does this mean, you ask? More cleaning! Kegs, bottles, filling equipment, etc. all has to be thoroughly cleansed and sanitized.
Sanitary procedures at a brewery are very important. Beer can easily become infected with spoiling bacteria, which will diminish the shelf life of your beer or sometimes even ruin the whole batch. Luckily if the brewer is well trained, this is rarely an issue.
After all the cleaning is done and the beer has been packaged, it's time to sell the beer! Beer sales are extremely competitive in the today's market. It takes a full team of people to sell the beer from a brewery. Fortunately for us, we have a distributor with a sales team to drive those sales. However, we also get out there ourselves and do sales calls. These folks are who would be considered to be part of the front of house employees. Beer production is supported by a team of people who brand, market and sell.
Also in the front of house are the people who organize logistics, distribution networks, events, social media and so on. In most start-up breweries like Southbound Brewing Co., all of these jobs are done by just a few people. The ability to multi-task is essential. Employees are constantly making sacrifices to meet production and sales deadlines.
Beer is hard work. Next time you meet a brewer or brewery rep, cheer them for their hard work in bringing that glass of cold beer to your hand. Even though it's tough, a cold beer at work after a long day of hard work certainly seems to taste the best. Trust us.
Smith Mathews (brewmaster) and Carly Wiggins (marketing director) are the founders of Southbound Brewing Co., Savannah's only production microbrewery. Go to southboundbrewingco.com or email info@southbound brewingco.com.