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Turning beer passion into supplemental income and/or career change

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by BKBassist, Feb 6, 2013.

  1. BKBassist

    BKBassist Savant (470) New York Jan 24, 2013

    Unsure if this has been discussed here, I searched and couldn't find anything.
    I'm 30, single, and in a job (musical instrument sales) where I can explore my passion, but am having a tough time footing the bills. I'm commissioned, so my pay swings fairly wildly from month to month. I've been looking into the idea of turning my passion for beer into either a bit of extra dough or perhaps a full sail career change.

    I took a bartending course, but have no interest in cocktails, and am getting my Certified Beer Server.

    That being said, I have no experience in the food\bar industry outside of a short stint as a line cook in college.

    Do you think knowledge, these certifications, a solid work ethic and knowledge\passion for the product would be enough to get me in the door for at least a trial run at a craft spot? Are there other opportunities in the industry that I am overlooking where experience might play less of a part? Appreciate any thoughts.
    ThirdEyePA likes this.
  2. SatlyMalty

    SatlyMalty Initiate (0) Washington Sep 12, 2012

    I think they could certainly get you in the door. Probably not as a bartender but more in an entry position like a barback/busser/host. From there you can easily move up quickly depending on how well you do.
  3. Rback

    Rback Aficionado (160) New York Feb 26, 2012

    There is a forum on this site titled "Help Wanted". Why not ask there.
    bradcochran1234 likes this.
  4. I think you could get hired based on the beard and hat ALONE!

    Seriously though...go for it!
  5. Apply as a dept manager at a bigger liquor store.
  6. BKBassist

    BKBassist Savant (470) New York Jan 24, 2013

    Seems that the Help Wanted guidelines state its for Wanted posts only, this seemed like my best option. And Bryan, I do get told I have the look of a beer geek a lot!
    bryanole27 likes this.
  7. You could hire yourself out as a mule at brewery only releases
  8. I wish you nothing but luck dude. I hope you find a rad opportunity.
    I have wanted to search for an awesome opportunity within the craft world, it is tough.

    I have tons of experience with overseeing projects and departments within the internals of a large business... but nothing close to a brewery so therefore they don't need me haha. Business analytics and performance tracking isn't looked upon as awesomely as I hoped haha.
  9. Onizilla

    Onizilla Aficionado (225) New York Apr 25, 2009

    You're in BK, Look for any kind of job in any kind of craft joint. There are two tons of stores in that city that sell craft beer and quite a few warehouses. Just apply to anything even if you don't feel "qualified" as long as you're a fast learner you should be fine. As long as there is no such thing as too low on the totem pole to you to start with, You'll be fine. If you're really desperate, See if you can volunteer your time at some of the Breweries in the city/burrough as a tank cleaner. It's a foot in the door.
  10. What exactly are you interested in doing with craft beer? Serving in a beer joint should be completely doable and also completely nonlucrative, unless you had something more specific in mind?
  11. If you're able to test the waters, I say do it man. It doesn't hurt to try as long as you're not risking much. Doing what you like is so much harder than doing what's opportune (I majored in purchasing and ended up in marketing, no clue how that happened), but never has it been impossible. I read a lot of books on/by successful business people and the overwhelming sentiment to your query seems to be this: even if you shed the blood and sweat every successful person sheds, there's still, unfortunately, an element of luck involved. And in regards to following a passion, don't be surprised if taking something you enjoy and turning it into work makes you not enjoy it anymore. Although, try and tell that to the Garrett Olivers and the Charlie Papazians. ;)

    Edit - Reading your last post: if you're just wanting to make a few extra bucks, then hells yeah, no reason you can't get onboard somewhere.
    Bluecane likes this.
  12. haha aint it crazy how that always works out... somehow the major is rarely the end profession.
    TheBeerAlmanac likes this.
  13. Ranbot

    Ranbot Savant (400) Pennsylvania Nov 27, 2006

    Don't forget to highlight your experience in retail sales and customer service from your musical instrument sales experience. Good luck.
  14. Breweries post jobs online all the time. Follow local breweries on twitter, facebook, what have you. That was how I found out about job openings at Flying Dog. I had one phone interview, and they loved me, so I drove down from CT to MD for an in person interview. It was the best interview I've ever had, because I was applying for a job in a field that I love and something I'm passionate about.

    Get yourself out there. Go to open houses, introduce yourself, get your name and face known.
    mwrecording, absyrd1, JohnB87 and 3 others like this.
  15. P.s. if you have access to a local brewery... someone else already mentioned it, but ask to get in there as a damn tank washer or floor sweeper. I have a friend who did something similar and is having fun, and moving up within the industry.

    If they have a tasting room, or store of some sort you can make cash by serving and selling beer, and get in good with the guys who do the dirty work behind the scenes while scrubbing the tanks. You will be one busy dude, but I promise the access to their brains, and the real world experience and learning sessions will pay off in some way.
  16. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Champion (840) Michigan May 8, 2006

    It is easier, sometimes a better option, to find passion for what you do rather than trying to do what you're passionate about. Many people who get jobs with in the industry are in an industry they love but may not be doing work that they love. It is possible to ruin a hobby, I am not trying to discourage anyone just food for thought.

    What you know is important but who you know will get you the job more often than not. There are plenty of people trying to break into the industry and an impressive but faceless resume will often be overlooked. Get to know people and let people get to know you. Don't just try to make yourself look qualified for the position, prove why your are more passionate, driven and are a better fit for what you apply for. Certifications such as the cicerone program help but that alone won't get guarantee a job. The biggest thing you can do, it cannot be repeated enough, get to know people and let them get to know you.
  17. ESeab

    ESeab Advocate (505) New Jersey Jan 3, 2013

    I used to work at guitar center too (I know its not the only music retail store, just assuming and kinda joking around) I now assist manage a liquor store and am one of the dime a dozen guys the man mentioned above (28, need moere money). I too am trying to find my way into the craft service industry in anyway possible. I wish you lots of luck, maybe we could combine forces and think of something no one has thought of hahaha
  18. cavedave

    cavedave Champion (930) New York Mar 12, 2009

    Some harsh words posted. I am going a different way, my own experience.

    I know someone who was a total beer geek, working a local beverage store as the store's beer geek. Paid his dues at the store, had to pitch in with bottle returns and shelf stocking, but he knew beer, reeeeeaaaaaaaaalllllllllly knew beer. Finally recognized by store as helping drive a trade of craft beer lovers, helped their ordering, and helped advise customers. Courted and hired By Manhattan Distributors, makes big money now in a dream beer geek job.

    I lost work. Went to the brewers who'd said they'd hire me when I was working elsewhere now wouldn't even discuss employment. Truth is if I would have offered to work free for a while I probably could have hooked in, but the truth is there are plenty who do volunteer at the good breweries. Tough to break in that way, I was ready to clean tanks and haul grain. Still didn't even get a chance to apply.

    Know other success and failure stories, tough business most folks don't realize.
  19. ThirdEyePA

    ThirdEyePA Savant (370) Texas Nov 7, 2011

    I needed to read this thread today. I'm very unhappy with my current job situation and would love to make a career change into a field that I love. This thread has been much needed jolt of motivation.
  20. BKBassist

    BKBassist Savant (470) New York Jan 24, 2013

    Safe assumption. It's a really fun job, especially being in the Manhattan store, but the money is severely lacking, even for managers. So I know well how passion + job are a bumpy road. But I'm merely trying to play to my strengths.
    ESeab likes this.
  21. Onizilla

    Onizilla Aficionado (225) New York Apr 25, 2009


    I believe I may deal with that guy you know at Manhattan distributors. Sounds like what I am, minus the paying off (so far) part.
    cavedave likes this.
  22. I'd be remiss if I said I hadn't thought of creative ways to get into the industry. For example, I have a friend that does secret shops for Audi which require him to literally drive across the country by himself on a constant and regular basis. I've wondered about tagging along and hauling beer along the way, helping bring sought after offerings to distro impoverished regions...
  23. teal

    teal Aficionado (195) Wisconsin May 3, 2012

    If you're looking to add a hundred or so bucks to the weekly take - bar tending is an avenue. One thing to think about - apply at golf courses, supper clubs et cetera to build experience before swinging for that killer club or craft beer bar gig. It sucks pouring BMC and making whiskey/brandy old fashioneds/sour/sweets over and over but it builds resume. I know of bartenders that were making 50k a year + (salary/tips) and they did NOT work prime time and they were not "lookers" from the "I have tits - tip me 20 bucks a round" standpoint. She worked predominantly from noon to 5 or Sunday during the day in the summer. That's at a bar that prides itself on only serving cans and pushing PBR/Blatz/Hamms/Schlitz as their niche.

    EVERY bartender you see started from zero - it's not a barrier that's 100% effective.

    Work hard, hustle, ears open/mouth shut and you'll do fine. (helps if you live in a drinking town too)

    Good luck man - don't let the nay-sayers keep you down.
    4kbrianb likes this.
  24. Flyway

    Flyway Zealot (85) Wisconsin Oct 22, 2012

    For how long though? You will literally have to work for the rest of your life... unless they have a killer 401k match at the local brew pub...
  25. Every occupation requires an element of financial responsibility. A toll collector can retire early if they plan accordingly and a millionaire athlete can go bankrupt before their prime. I sincerely hope you're not one of those people counting on your social security one day.
    ESeab and 4kbrianb like this.
  26. all i picture is dukes of hazard mixed in with the transporter. It is a damn Russian River/Audi collab and I love it!


    One of the best words of advice I ever received... the best time to find a job, is when you have a job. So the time is now buddy! Kick ass, take names, and as others have said.. hustle and let people know you are listening and learning... not just talking (The biggest mistake most people make in my personal opinion).
    mecummins, ESeab and TheBeerAlmanac like this.
  27. It's done, I'm doing it.
  28. Onizilla

    Onizilla Aficionado (225) New York Apr 25, 2009

    Yo forget the beer trade, Where do I sign up for this gig? Could mule AND secret shop Audi. Awesome.
  29. Flyway

    Flyway Zealot (85) Wisconsin Oct 22, 2012

    Ha, no... not planning on seeing a dime of that, sitting here at 29. You are exactly right with your comments though... it would just be tough full-time with terrible-to-no benefits on that kind of income though. Plus, probably living in a metropolitan area to bring in $100 a night at a craft-friendly joint... probably paying a lot in rent. There's just so many out there that aren't saving a dime, when you are exactly right about SS. But it will all work itself out for us later on, I'm sure...
    TheBeerAlmanac likes this.
  30. Thedrizzle

    Thedrizzle Savant (435) Florida Sep 10, 2012

    Sierra Nevada and stone were just hiring.just keep on it and check websites. Hopefully relocating isn't to hard.
    josmickam likes this.
  31. Bruery was also recently hiring. Someone mentioned facebook and twitter... I highly reccomend friending and following every brewery in your region. Or out of your region if you have the ability or want to relocate.
    HipsterBrewfus likes this.
  32. He's technically an auditor, but he does get a car. :)
  33. really? I have a buddy who is an auditor. I am going to have to hit him up about this secret society they have. He always acts like he hates talking about his job and it is boring... Now i know the truth!
    TheBeerAlmanac likes this.
  34. I followed my passion and it led me to work for a distributor. Your are in BK, apply for Union Beer. They have the biggest craft portfolio in NYC.
    Granted, I sling budweiser all day but you need to start somewhere!!
  35. Rback

    Rback Aficionado (160) New York Feb 26, 2012

    In 50 years of drinking legally, going to literally thousands of bars I never thought of trying this
  36. a person will do crazy things when parched!

    When growing up, and going to crappy, wannabe fancy lounges and clubs I learned my tricks to get my over priced gin and tonic ahead of the dude ordering even more over price jager bombs.
  37. warrenout330

    warrenout330 Aficionado (240) Ohio Oct 19, 2012

    You could even look at distribution reps and or merchandising job.... I have a lot of friends who work in those guidelines for craft distribution and actually pull in 30-50k.. but this all depends on your state laws like Ohio is distribution to stores and PA sets stores up as distribution for beers to customers
  38. czfreeman

    czfreeman Savant (455) California May 22, 2007

    I actually quit my job 3 weeks ago and am actively seeking landing an assistant brewing job .I have some experience, but getting your foot in is the hardest thing...and the fact that people ask for a certain amount of experience..but no one wants give it to you, is becoming very discouraging..
  39. JrGtr

    JrGtr Savant (365) Massachusetts Apr 13, 2006

    Yet another former GC employee here, (Store # 552, Natick, MA 1998 - 2002)
    The problem with your current gig (no pun intended) is the variable hours, especially when it comes to weekends.
    If you were to look at being a bartender or some such, the timing would possibly be a serious issue.
    You might look into blogging or writing about beer in one form or another, be it for one of the "beer papers" like Yankee Brew news (or the NY equivalent; done know which name it goes by) or Ale Street News, or something like that. I'm not saying it would be a lot of money (or any at all to begin with) but if you develop a style or angle, and get a following, you might be able to do something there.
  40. JrGtr

    JrGtr Savant (365) Massachusetts Apr 13, 2006

    Do you homebrew at all? if you're looking to apply for a job, a bottle of HB might be a good way in without any professional experience. Other than that, you might be best looking for a gofer job, to get in the door doing whatever needs to be done, and learn about the procedures and production and equipment in the brewery. You'll end up shoveling out mash tuns and answering phoones, like as not, but it's in the door.

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