Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects
Below Average; employment in this occupation is expected to grow moderately.
$30,000 - $70,000
Brewing is big production these days. One SA brewer, Coopers, has a production capacity of 400,000 hectolitres per year. In addition SA is home to the Southwark brewery and also some microbreweries found scattered throughout the State. Some brewers learn on the job or have a background in science.
    Brewers have the fun job of transforming four ingredients - malted wheat or barley, yeast, water and hops into beer. Their duties are dependent on the size and setup of the brewery. Those in large breweries manage a production team and are responsible for quality control and process efficiency. Those in smaller breweries (microbreweries) have a hands on, beer making role doing everything from fixing the pumps to marketing the beer.

  • To become a brewer usually requires a degree in brewing or a science background such as biochemistry, microbiology, or engineering. Some brewers have no qualifications and have learnt their skills on the job or moved through the ranks from brewing technicians' positions.

    TAFE SA offers a Certificate III in Food Processing with a focus on Micro Brewing that provides a solid grounding for a career in the microbrewing industry plus several short courses throughout the year.

    Its like following a recipe but much more involved. There are many variables. For example, if you alter the gravity it can affect the alcoholic content, or if the power fails, then the temperature changes affecting fermentation (yeast will not act on sugar below eight degrees). You need to know when to halt the fermentation process, either by fermenting until there is no sugar or yeast left, or by cooling the beer. This is the process by which the alcohol by volume of the finished product is set. Testing is paramount in this job and a precise, scientific approach is the key to brewing. Carbonation and sugar levels can be checked using equipment such as ebulliometers and hydrometers. Computer software programmes are used to chart and track statistical control and conduct quality analysis. The most important tool though, is the brewer's tastebuds. But before you get too excited by the prospect of tasting beer all day long, be warned, the novelty can wear off! If you are continually tasting the beer at every stage in the business, tasting the wort from the time it leaves the brew house until it is packaged, the novelty does wear thin. For an experienced taster there can be eight or nine tastings in a week and this becomes an important and necessary part of the job.

    No matter the size of the brewery, the beer making process begins with a malted grain, usually provided by a malting company. Malted means that the barley or wheat has been steeped in water until it sprouts, making the starches easier to convert into fermentable sugars. It is dried either naturally or in a kiln. How the malt is roasted and the type of barley chosen affects the ultimate taste of the beer. It is the brewer's job to choose the best quality and type or blend of malt. For example, floor dried malts are used in Pilsener style beers, the darker, strong tasting beers are made from well roasted malt. The brewer receives analysis sheets from the maltster and these record the amount of starch in the grain and colour specks. Even the water can significantly alter the taste of the beer, so its important for the brewer to test and analyse the water used throughout production.

    The malted grain is milled to break it into grist and this is mixed with hot water at a temperature suitable for the particular beer style. For example, an Australian lager is heated at 69 degrees. This all takes place in the mashtun and this process, known as mashing, is where the starches in the malt are converted into sugar. The resultant mixture is called the 'wort' (pronounced as wert) and has a consistency like thin, hot porridge. When the brewer is happy with the degree of mash conversion, the grain material is removed from the mashtun and the filtered wort runs into a second brewing vessel, the kettle and is boiled for up to two hours. At this point, hops are added. Hops are a vine growing flower which impart the bitterness to the beer. As they are a flavouring agent, the type of hops chosen also affects the style and flavour of the beer.

    The brew is transferred to a whirlpool where the undissolved hops and proteins are trapped (called the trub) and the clarified wort cooled down to a temperature suitable for fermentation. Yeast and oxygen are added so that fermentation can begin. Fermentation takes seven days and once finished, the by-products of the yeast's growth are carbon dioxide and....voila, alcohol. After tasting and laboratory analysis, the brewer can then decide if the fermentation process is complete. The beer is then cooled down further, the yeast drops to the bottom of the tank and is removed or reused. Beer is transferred into maturation tanks for lagering or storage, or racked by gravity flow. After a specified time (days or weeks, depending on beer style), beers are filtered, or in some cases, more hops, sugar or clarifying agents are added. Beers are then packaged and ready for distribution or tapping.