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What Does a Brewmaster Do?

An aspiring brewmaster might start out by working at a brewpub or microbrewery.
Malt extract is known for its use in brewing beer.
Hops, which are used to make beer.
A stout, a brown ale, and a pale lager.
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  • Written By: Phil Shepley
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Images By: Steve Lovegrove, Greg Peverill-Conti, n/a, Marius Graf
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2014
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A brewmaster makes beer. This may sound like a dream job to some, but the process of making beer is a highly-skilled art that can be cumbersome, tedious, time-consuming, and even dangerous. Brewmasters work in various-sized beer factories throughout the world and typically oversee the beer-making process from start to finish.

The amount of work required of a brewmaster mainly hinges on the work environment and amount of beer production required. In a large production facility, such as a commercial brewery, the position may involve more of a managerial role that involves overseeing those who do most of the hands-on work. At microbreweries, where the beer is produced in much smaller quantities, a brewmaster will usually have a much greater hands-on role throughout the process of making beer. Home beer brewers and hobbyists are also considered brewmasters.

The primary duty of the brewmaster is to ensure the quality of the beer brewed, which includes making sure batches of the same beer are consistent. There are several steps to the process that must be followed to strict specifications. These begin with gathering the necessary ingredients, some of which must be handpicked by the brewer depending on the uniqueness of the beer. Unique ingredient possibilities are practically endless, but include malted grains, hops, yeast, woods, and fruits.

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What follows is a complicated process of mixing, boiling, cooling, storing and bottling all of the ingredients of the beer. A more involved brewmaster is present during most, if not all, of these steps. He or she must ensure that exact specifications are met regarding temperatures of mixtures and the various times they must be treated and left to rest.

In a worst-case scenario, failure to follow proper protocol can lead to beer that is not good for consumption; this product must be disposed of, and the whole process must be started over from scratch. The most important consideration for a brewmaster is the cleanliness of the brewing equipment. Contamination, especially when the beer is cooled, will disrupt proper fermentation, rendering the batch useless. Improperly or impatiently brewed concoctions can also cause dangerous conditions, even leading to exploding beer bottles and other hazardous conditions.

After brewing a batch of beer, a brewmaster must taste it—what many consider the best part of the job. This is where their expertise really comes into play; they must be able to taste the smallest variation between batches, and ensure a unique brew has the flavors, colors, and other qualities that he or she had in mind. Beer tasting also may consist of garnering outside opinions of a product by allowing customers to test it.

Many brewmasters also network with other beer professionals for new ideas and business advice. Others are trainers and teachers in charge of showing beginners how to brew beer in both casual and professional atmospheres. Requirements to become a brewmaster vary by brewery, but generally involve years of experience. Some schools offer certifications that may help an aspiring brewer gain employment under an experienced brewmaster where he or she can start gaining the necessary experience to work independently.

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