Have you ever volunteered at a brewery?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Aaron_Kerkvliet, Apr 12, 2015.

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  1. Aaron_Kerkvliet

    Aaron_Kerkvliet Initiate (0) Apr 17, 2014 Wisconsin

    I recently volunteered at a very small brewery here in Chicago. The brewery was a small 3.5 bbl system brewery. After seeing the amount work that goes into their beer and the total lack of automation, I have a much deeper respect for these brewers.

    What have your experiences been? If you haven't volunteered I recommend trying I, plus they need to do something with any possible Underhill.
  2. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Crusader (737) Mar 28, 2009 California

    I haven't but have wanted to since I started homebrewing. Did you know they take volunteers or did you just approach them on your own? What did you do there?
  3. draheim

    draheim Poo-Bah (3,021) Sep 18, 2010 Washington

    I guess it would be a great way to learn about how a brewery actually functions. Personally though, I'd volunteer my time/energy/talent/money to a not-for-profit cause I support before I volunteered at a brewery. To each their own though.
    Benish likes this.
  4. birdman200

    birdman200 Initiate (0) Jul 6, 2010 Massachusetts

    I did for a summer, acting as a brewery's intern, and it was incredible. I made firkins/casks, dropped yeast out of tanks, cleaned, worked the bottling line, etc.

    I approached the brewery saying I wanted to help, god bless them they said yes haha.

    In regards to having a deeper appreciation for brewing, I absolutely agree. I wish every beer drinker would do it -- maybe then there would be less bickering/criticizing/etc in the industry. Same goes for any real craft, actually. Gotta be on the ground floor to see how it all works, and the time/effort to make it right...even if it is Budweiser or whatever.
    scottbrew4u, Givemebeer and Bo_bandy like this.
  5. brandon911

    brandon911 Initiate (0) Mar 15, 2011 Texas

    I started volunteering at a local brewery a little over a year ago and fell in love with the whole process, interactions with brewery visitors, etc. It abdolutely deepened my appreciation for the whole process, and led to me getting hired there earlier this week! I encourage everyone to give it a shot as well. I never would have considered getting a job at a brewery prior to my experiences there.
    Bo_bandy likes this.
  6. R3ason

    R3ason Aspirant (250) Aug 13, 2014 Colorado

    That would be a dream come true for me. Alas, I only have so much time in a day. Perhaps life is too short for me to ignore this desire, though...

    OP, did you approach the brewery, or did they have a listing for volunteer positions?
  7. Hrodebert

    Hrodebert Aspirant (270) Sep 2, 2013 Michigan

    I try to volunteer all the time, but they all say the same thing. No we do not need a taste tester.
    Givemebeer, chcfan, Eman17 and 3 others like this.
  8. Aaron_Kerkvliet

    Aaron_Kerkvliet Initiate (0) Apr 17, 2014 Wisconsin

    I've seen both, the brewery I help out asks if they need help usually. Some even have email lists.
    R3ason likes this.
  9. gopens44

    gopens44 Poo-Bah (2,423) Aug 9, 2010 Virginia
    Society Trader

    I used to have to swing by one small brewery to pick up kegs on occasion. It seems like I learned a lot about the brewing process just from hanging out for a little bit while there, but to agree with the OP, what I realized above all else was all the work it took to brew. I mean, if you were a much larger company that had an automated process, you may not have to brew the hard way, but these guys brewed the hard way every time they produced beer.
  10. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado

    Thanx for the info. I can save some time trying.
  11. Horseballs

    Horseballs Initiate (0) Feb 7, 2012 Ohio

    Working for free aka "volunteering" devalues an already low paying profession.
  12. JuicesFlowing

    JuicesFlowing Initiate (0) Jul 5, 2009 Kansas

    Craft beer is not about making money and creating Super Bowl commercials .....
  13. BrewDogBarley

    BrewDogBarley Initiate (0) Dec 1, 2014 Georgia

    I have done it. If you want to be a better homebrewer or have thoughts of one day going pro it is a must do experience. You will learn more than you can ever imagine. Your best shot will be with a nano or small micro. Be prepared to do the jobs they don't want to do. Be good at operating a mop. A LOT of what goes on in a brewery is not fun. But it is part of the process. If you want them to help you learn then you need to help them do whatever it is they need done. They are not going to put you on the brew house anytime soon. I don't care how many homebrew medals you won.

    Best of luck to you! Cheers.
  14. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,487) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    It is also illegal under state and Federal labor law.

    Wineries in California have already been fined for using unpaid labor - Volunteers and the Law: Winery Shuts Down After Labor Violation. The Brewers Association, so concerned with and proud of the jobs "craft" breweries create, should let their members know that relying on so-called unpaid "volunteers" is not a legal or a very admirable business practice.

    Goddam, minimum hourly wage is the US less than the price of a half gallon growler of beer. Imagine working minimum wage and asking for a raise and you're working next to a "volunteer" --- not much bargaining power in that scenario.
  15. Benish

    Benish Meyvn (1,313) Mar 13, 2013 Wisconsin

    I'm sorry...but volunteering at a brewery? What about Meals on Wheels, Special Olympics, Hospice care, etc??? They need volunteers.
  16. NewGlarusFan

    NewGlarusFan Initiate (0) Jun 26, 2013 Illinois

    What brewery was it?
  17. mudbug

    mudbug Defender (622) Mar 27, 2009 Oregon

    You beat me to it! Letting someone "volunteer" at your for-profit brewery can get you in a ton of trouble.
    mhenson42 and indesertum like this.
  18. honkey

    honkey Disciple (348) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona

    For about 2 months I volunteered before getting hired... Worked about 30 hours a week bottling. 3 years later and the brewery has paid for my brewing school and promoted me to brewmaster. I think those two months were pretty well worth it :wink:
    2ellas and TheeWalrusHunter like this.
  19. PGD120

    PGD120 Initiate (0) Jan 20, 2015 New Jersey

    even its considered an internship? Ive had internships with companies (not beer related) they won't pay me but have me do work (PR mainly) that would normally be done by a paid employee for free. some of these solicit that they are looking for it interns. Id imagine if volunteer work were to be called a internship it would be perfectly fine
  20. mudbug

    mudbug Defender (622) Mar 27, 2009 Oregon

    Nope, not any more. I work at the Oregon Aquarium as a Volunteer docent and they just had to get rid of their interns http://internships.about.com/od/internships101/a/departmentoflaborsnewguidelinesforinterns.htm
    BBThunderbolt likes this.
  21. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,487) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Only if such a position meets the FLSA criteria for an true "Internship":
    mudbug likes this.
  22. mudbug

    mudbug Defender (622) Mar 27, 2009 Oregon

    Which takes the mop right out of the equation. Kind of hard to explain why using a mop is an educational benefit to the intern.
  23. jlsims04

    jlsims04 Initiate (0) Jul 14, 2013 Illinois

    It is absolutley about making money for the people who own and work at breweries. They have bills and families like eveyone else.
    albertq17 and corbmoster like this.
  24. corbmoster

    corbmoster Initiate (153) Dec 15, 2014 Texas

    geez man... do you guilt everyone that is pursuing a hobby and wants to get better at it?
  25. Benish

    Benish Meyvn (1,313) Mar 13, 2013 Wisconsin

    Kuaff and TheeWalrusHunter like this.
  26. Evil_Emery

    Evil_Emery Initiate (0) Nov 14, 2014 California

    Yes, and you beat me to it, too. But I see small breweries (and wineries) doing things illegally every day (read any small brewery's Twitter feed or look at their FB page). They most likely do not even know it's illegal, but breaking labor laws and/or alcohol industry laws is something you don't want to get in trouble for.
    mudbug likes this.
  27. bluehende

    bluehende Poo-Bah (2,440) Dec 10, 2010 Delaware

    I often wondered about this. A couple of local breweries use volunteers quite a bit. I have seen other breweries pay in beer. I wondered if that would be legal also.
  28. mudbug

    mudbug Defender (622) Mar 27, 2009 Oregon

    Sixteen tons and what do you get, another day older and deeper in debt.....
    BBThunderbolt likes this.
  29. Casterbridge

    Casterbridge Devotee (427) Mar 26, 2010 Connecticut

    I'll buy the beer, but I won't volunteer.
  30. scottbrew4u

    scottbrew4u Initiate (0) Feb 2, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I approached and asked a small local brewpub if I could drop by on brewing day and check out the process. The brewer said sure after we chatted a bit and told me what time he was starting mash in. I brought a homebrew, we tasted talked and naturally I felt like lending a hand instead of just watching and it was a great experience and I absolutely learned a good deal and would do it again no guilt. I also have volunteered making and distributing meals for the needy but consider these two different "volunteer" experiences. If you want to learn more about brewing it does not hurt to ask if you can stop by and maybe lend a hand.
  31. 2ellas

    2ellas Devotee (485) Feb 20, 2014 New Hampshire

    I appreciate you apologizing for not adding anything useful to the original topic.
    corbmoster likes this.
  32. corbmoster

    corbmoster Initiate (153) Dec 15, 2014 Texas

    seriously though
    2ellas likes this.
  33. beerluvr

    beerluvr Meyvn (1,231) Jan 2, 2001 Canada (ON)

    Volunteered a few times at (now defunct) Heavyweight Brewing in Ocean, NJ. Always a good time and good beers with Tom & Peggy. That was a great brewery...
  34. 2ellas

    2ellas Devotee (485) Feb 20, 2014 New Hampshire

    There are a couple breweries in my area that I'd like to work/intern or whatever the correct term is. One is smaller ane would definitely help me learn things that would be more applicable to homebrewing. The other is a bit bigger and would help me learn more about the overall process of brewing and running a tasting room etc. Either way, I'm not sure if I could get into either place but I would be willing to put in some time to get some experience. It's a win win situation.
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