My 10 Brewing Commandments

So here are my personal 10 Brewing Commandments. Firstly, a little about how this article came about…

I am currently helping on a brewing installation as a brewing consultant. I am working with an established brewing team helping them get operational in a new production brewery.

The team have their way of working, which has given me time to reflect on how I behave when I’m in a brewery. I have been working in the industry for 25 years but always looking to improve.

Micro-Brewery Setup Costs - 10 Brewing Commandments

However, in this particular instance the team here are looking for me to help them improve their day-to-day working life.

So as a bit of fun I thought I’d write out my 10 brewing commandments. I don’t have the time to write my usual technical articles as the project has been hectic. This article pretty much wrote itself though.

So, let’s get started.

1. Thou shall always double check

Double checking; be it before opening a valve or checking the CO2 level in a beer before packaging. Double and even triple checking many things in the brewery before acting can make your work place safer and save your heartache down the line.

2. Thou shall take a step back

Brewing can be very stressful; having to deal with multiple actions at one time. Brewing beer and filling kegs or example. It can get overwhelming at times. What I have learnt over 25 years is take a step back, give yourself a minute or so to asses what is going on and then take action.

assess in the brewery

When I first started brewing, I would sometimes panic, make a hasty decision thus making issues worse. In most instances the beer will not be comprised by taking a minute to make sure you fully aware of the situation at hand.

3. Thou shall wear your pants outside your boots – 10 Brewing Commandments

Every other post on Reddit/Brewery shows a photo of a brewer with his pants tucked inside his boots. It is an ongoing theme/in joke. With multiple brewers pointing out the fact and stating please wear your pants/trousers outside of your boots.

We’ve all heard the stories of a brewer filling their boots with hot caustic/water/wort and receiving bad burns as they struggle to take their boot off. Why take the risk? Just have those pants outside your boots.

4. Thou shall clean up as you go

I can’t work in a dirty or disorganized environment so cleaning up as I go makes my day much better. It also has its advantages as it make cleaning easier.

For example, If I can clean your mash tun as soon as it is empty it will be easier to clean. If you wait a while the left-over malt will be dried on and harder to wash off.

Cleaning

Cleaning as you go will ultimately save your time, be appreciated by your colleagues plus lead to a safer and more hygienic work environment.

5. Thou shall always prepare as much as you can in advance

Ok, this is very much a personal one. Let me explain by example. I often weigh out my kettle additions in advance of when they are needed.

Why? Well if I have an issue somewhere else in the brewery that needs addressing and then suddenly, I get the alarm to add an addition to the boil. It’s already there and can be added without having to think about weighing it out.

Less panicking…freaking out in a brewery is never good!

Being prepared in advance where it makes sense is always preferable. Brewing often throws up surprises and being prepared will help you deal with these issues much more easily.

6. Thou shall take preventative maintenance seriously

This is another one personal to me. I have worked in many breweries and always ask that I can have someone look at all the cooling units (for cold storage and glycol systems) before summer hits.

My thinking is that they will work harder in the summer and having them in tip top shape will hopefully keep them running till autumn. Also, do you know how hard it can be, to get a cooling technician in August (northern hemisphere)?

Preventative Maintenance in Brewing

Nearly every time we end up having to scrabble around to pay over the odds to get a cold technician at short notice. I always smile to myself knowing this could have been avoided.

Preventative maintenance (some say spending up to15% annually of your initial brewhouse systems costs) will save you time and money in the future, as well as allow your equipment to last longer.

7. Thou shall keep immaculate records – 10 Brewing Commandments

The more data you write down be it for a brew sheet or packaging records the better. If you have an issue with a beer then you have a greater chance of finding out why.

Also, brewing is about incremental improvements and having more data to work from the easier this becomes. I didn’t get into brewing for paperwork but I appreciate the value of good records.

8. Thou shall communicate and actually listen

In brewing you often have to rely on your colleagues to get stuff done. Being clear in your communication will allow the brewery to run smoothly. This is across departments too, from the production floor, sales, marketing, HR and the lab.

I often write stuff down to make things clear. Also, I like to listen. I have been brewing for a long time but still take feedback from my brew team. Being approachable is key to me.

My 10 Brewing Commandments
Communication is vital in the brewing industry

For example, I will make a monthly brewing schedule then present it to my brewing staff. I will state why I have made it like it is, then I will give them time to make suggestions and improvements.

Without fail they point out improvements that we employ and everyone is happy. My staff are happier as they feel they have a say in their work and we save time plus resources.

In brewing there are many critical actions to take every day. With good communications more actions will be completed successfully than not.

9. Thou shall stay on top of the industry – 10 Brewing Commandments

Brewing is always evolving be it with new beer styles to development of brewing equipment or processes. It is always good to keep abreast of the changes. I use multiple sources from Reddit to Google Scholar to see what is going on in the brewing industry.

It has allowed me to make changes in how I approach brewing, discover materials that have improved my day-to-day brewing life and so much more. There is always something to learn in the brewing industry.

10. Thou shall realize there’s always something to do in the brewery

I know there is always something to do in the brewery. It can be a bit of preventative maintenance, some cleaning, planning, catch up with another department or inputting some data.

I try and keep a list of rainy-day jobs such that can be tackled when we have some down time. If in doubt there’s always something that can be cleaned…. I’m 100% sure!

10 Brewing Commandments - Cleaning
There’s always cleaning to do in a brewery!

My 10 Brewing Commandments – A Conclusion

So, as I said this article was a bit of fun. Some commandments now I read them are generic to anyone with a job. Like keeping up with what is happening in your industry.

However, I hope there might be a nugget or two in here that might help. Maybe, a point you’d forgotten about that you’ll implement after reading this.

Also writing this article, I hope people might share in the comments their own personal work commandments. I am always looking to improve and I’d love to hear your thoughts too.

So please feel free to share your ideas in the comments below…

For now

Thanks for reading my 10 brewing commandments and have a great day. I hope to wrting more technical articles again soon.

Thanks, and happy brewing.

Cheers

Neil

Neil Playfoot

Neil is a brewer with 25 years international brewing experience. Based out of China (first came in 2010) he works as a brewing consultant helping brewers with their projects and brewing processes. To find out what services Neil can provide your brewery please click here. If you'd like to contact Neil you can email at [email protected].
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