Presented x Mondial de la Bière [June 14-18, 2017 - Montréal]
Who are you:
Your current job:
Assistant Brewer at Boshkung Brewing Co.
In which city are you located?
Carnarvon, Ontario, a small town located in the heart of cottage country, about 2.5 hours north of Toronto.
A word to define what kind of worker you are:
What tools are essential to your life (app, software, etc..)
A lot of how we organize things for the brewery is simply through Microsoft excel, making spreadsheets for everything. Other then that good old Google helps us troubleshoot a lot of problems. In terms of sales, we use the program Freshbooks for our invoicing, which is a super simple program to use. To help with sales Ontario-wide we actually use a big map to help organize regional deliveries.
What does your office space look like?
I work mainly in the brewery so my “office space” is the brewery itself. Which in comparison to most other craft breweries is pretty tiny.
How large is the brewery?
We are running on a ten-hectolitre system with five ten-hectolitre fermenters and one twenty-hectolitre fermenter. We produce anywhere from 20-40 hectolitres of beer weekly.
The reason you started brewing?
I became interested in craft beer in my final year of university. I found myself wondering if there was work for a chemistry graduate in the industry. Growing up in Haliburton County with connections to the owners of Boshkung I ended up applying for a position in the brewery and have been working here ever since. It’s a great introduction to the trade as I’ve been exposed to a bit of everything, production, marketing, and sales.
What was the inspiration behind your brewery?
The inspiration behind Boshkung Brewing Co is simple, we are focused on cottage living, local fare and of course, great tasting beer. Boshkung Lake, a popular lake nearby is the origin of the name of the company, a commonly asked question from many of our customers.
What are the biggest challenges for you as a brewer in Ontario?
The biggest challenge we have found as a company is finding the balance between expanding into something bigger while also keeping the integrity of our beer and what our company stands for. In the past year, we have started selling one of our core brands, the North Country Kellerbier, in LCBO locations as well as many grocery stores Ontario-wide. This is a huge step for any microbrewery, as it is great exposure for our company. In the near future, we hope to have our beer in the Beer Store locations in Ontario as well as introduce another core brand, the 35&118 Cream Ale into LCBO’s Ontario-wide.
What kind of music do you listen to when you are working?
It entirely depends on whose phone is plugged into the speaker and what time of day it is. During busy times we usually listen to classic rock or indie, which is mellow for the retail store. During off hours we usually listen to something more upbeat to keep us going if we have to work late.
Do you have a way to organize your days to optimize your work?
A lot of work in the brewery is time sensitive, so it is all about managing your time effectively to get the most out of a workday. For instance, I’m sitting here at the computer answering these questions while the wort boils in the brew kettle, filling my time until the next stage of the brew day.
What tips would you give to improve productivity?
Productivity to me is all about time management, you need to make a plan for the day and stick to it. That way you hold yourself accountable for what needs to be done. Also having someone go upstairs and make espressos at 3 pm definitely increases the productivity of the work team.
What is the best advice anyone has given you?
To be fully invested in whatever work you are doing at any given time. You will gain so much more knowledge, understanding, and appreciation if you invest yourself into your job. If you invest yourself into your job, likely your employee’s will want to invest in you.
What is your routine start and end of the day?
My routine at the beginning of a workday is to get the brewery up and running, plug in the keg washer, turn on the boiler, etc. After that, I usually make a pot of coffee and check my emails while things warm up in the brewery. At the end of the day, I always check the schedule to make sure the fermenters are at the right temperature and make sure everything the brewery is closed down. If it’s a Friday or Saturday I might have a pint with coworkers before leaving too.
Aside from your computer and your phone, what gadget can you not you go without?
A GPS!! We are a small company which means you do a bit of everything. There are times when I have been sent to Toronto for deliveries, without a GPS I’d probably still be stuck in Toronto somewhere.
3 Ontario craft beers that we must try?
Juicin’ – from Sawdust City, it’s a New England style IPA, fantastic and fruity!
Golden Vox – from Beau’s Brewing Company, it’s a rye pale lagered ale, the flavor and aroma is so complex and layered, you get a bit of everything when drinking it!
Windward Belgian Wheat – from Stone City Ales, one of my favorite wheat ales to date, a favorite when I was going to school in Kingston, Ontario.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a brewery?
Do your research. There is so much to starting a brewery, and so many variables that can totally determine how successful your company will be, it is not simply the ability to make good beer. One thing I’ve learned since being in the craft beer industry is that everyone is willing to help one another out. So if you are thinking of starting your own brewery go talk to owners of successful breweries to see what they’ve done to succeed and what they’ve done to fix mistakes.