When beer lovers think of what goes on behind the scenes at a brewery, thoughts may drift to barrels or exotic ingredients or post-shift taste trials of the latest, trendy creation. Rarely does it concern the long hours, professional development and rather yeoman work it takes to become good at a job that straddles art and manufacturing.
Here in the U.S., we recently celebrated Labor Day, a holiday to give thanks to all the effort our workforce provides to help our country and economy chug along. This kind of effort should never be lost on the behind-the-scenes staff who make the American beer industry what it is.
I didn’t expect to follow this kind of thematic path when I sat down with Chris Leonard, brewmaster and operations manager at Heavy Seas Beer, not far outside of Baltimore. But over the course of our recent conversation, I became enamored with his perspective on recruitment, retention, and professional development. These are unsexy HR terms we don’t often think about when it comes to beer, but they’re also the key tenants to an otherwise apprentice profession that uses these learning opportunities to create some of the most thoughtful, innovative, and efficient brewers in the country.
And there is a lot that goes into teaching a brewer, let alone running one of the most successful brewing operations in the country. Over the course of our conversation, Chris will offer you perspective on what it’s like to oversee a collection of young brewers, but the impacts and considerations he has to weigh when it comes to creating and improving some beloved brands.
These are the kinds of conversations I love to have, when I can step back from the excitement of daily news and dig into the day-to-day issues that directly impact what happens to the beer in our glass. As we’ll come to learn, Chris’ voice is a worthwhile one to consider.