Half Way Point

March 21, 2011

This past week we spent most of our time on brewery design, construction materials, CIP, and various other aspects of brewery engineering. The week ended with a sensory session where we tasted various microbial off-flavors and flavors from aging and poor packaging. Apparently I’m not that sensitive to lactic acid infections. Huh.

We also had to say goodbye to our friends who were here for the 6-week Associate course. It won’t be the same going forward without Tom, Dave, and Mike, but they all have their own things to get back to. After class on Friday we had quite a blast as we drank in farewell to these guys.

Six weeks into the course and we’re all done with the lecture portion of it. This coming week we will spend two days on the ‘business of brewing’, two days doing case studies on the brewing industry, and then presentations of the case studies on Friday. This is the part of the Chicago section of the course that I’ve really been looking forward to. The practical business concerns of running a brewery are extremely important, and any information we can get before considering getting into an ownership/managerial role in a brewery would be immensely helpful.

On top of this final week in Chicago, we’re also coming up on the one year anniversary of me getting canned from ITT. It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year already, so much has happened since I walked out of the turnstiles in Hawkeye yelling some ‘parting words’ for all to hear. The initial job searching, the discussions with defense contractor recruiters in DC and Maryland that sounded like they really wanted me, it was all surreal and, in all honesty, very draining. Job searching is tough to begin with, but it’s immensely worse when your skills all push you into a career field that you have almost no love for.

I’m not entirely sure what specifically forced the change in my mind to actually take the leap and register with Siebel. It likely wouldn’t have happened if Jason hadn’t let me know that they needed help at Custom Brewcrafters. The day I got that email was the day I was going to call back a recruiter and set up an interview with one of their VPs that really wanted to bring me on for radar work. At that point I was starting to get depressed thinking about moving somewhere I didn’t want to go (Maryland) for a career I was sick of. For breaking me out of that rut and altering my path, I have to give Custom Brewcrafters some serious love.

Throughout the internship at CB’s and now through the Siebel course, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my future. At the moment I have nothing holding me down to any particular region, so I have an almost frightening amount of freedom with where I go from here. I’ve been going back and forth on what kind of region I might want to move to, what kind of environment I’d want to work in, and the possibility of being involved with a startup (brewery or brewpub). I think at this point I’d prefer to work somewhere for a while to gain more experience before opening a place, but I’d really like to find a partner to go in with on opening a brewpub. Rochester could definitely use another brewpub, especially one closer for all the east side residents. Yes, there have been numerous new breweries opening in the area recently with Naked Dove and Three Heads Brewing taking root, but I think Rochester has a great beer drinking culture that could support much more. Also, the one brewpub in the area is so far west that it’s only convenient for a small amount of people. The big problem here is that I have no desire to run a restaurant and I have no money. One can dream, though…

Concurrently with the above thinking, I’m having some serious thoughts of leaving upstate New York altogether. Having lived in the region all my life, a part of me would love to go experience a completely different part of the country. The midwest and pacific northwest both have major appeal to me, especially places like Milwaukee and northern Colorado. Hell, even England is something I’m toying with. Living abroad for a while would be an amazing experience, and I know there are places in England looking to bring in some new brewing influences to change the status quo with their brewing tradition that is rooted strongly in tradition.

At the moment I’m sending out some resumes to see what may get me a bite. Brown’s Brewing in Troy is planning to expand into a production facility in an old textile mill, so I’ll be sending them one just in case that project is actually coming together. The next wave of resumes after that will involve Wisconsin, Colorado, Washington, and Idaho.

Whatever happens, it’s about time to start gearing up for Germany. Gotta get this liver primed and ready. 🙂

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