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Brewery Management: Responsibilities and Essential Skills of a Great Brewery Manager

Marcel DeerAuthor

During the pandemic, the craft beer industry took only a relatively small hit. While bars and small brewhouses closed, most breweries had enough of an off-premise revenue stream to keep them afloat. While today, brewery revenues are creeping back to pre-pandemic levels. Beer market revenue totals $120 billion in 2023 and is expected to grow by 4.77% annually for the next few years. This makes it a great time to be in this exciting industry!

To compete and make a great product, however, you need great staff, and that starts with an excellent brewery manager. This is someone who has all the skills and experience to make your venture succeed. They need to be able to take on various roles and responsibilities to oversee the business and staff at the same time. So, let’s look closely at the skills and responsibilities of a great brewery manager, plus some top tips on how to make a brewery succeed.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • The responsibilities of a brewery manager

  • The essential skills and responsibilities needed for a brewery manager

  • Tips for brewery management success

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The Roles and Responsibilities of a Brewery Manager

Brewery managers need to have a diverse range of skills in order to handle production, business, and staff all at once. They may find that they need to wear many hats at once and apply their skills to a wide range of areas. Normally, brewery managers play a role in these different areas.

Hiring and staff management

As the manager of a brewery and likely also a taphouse, the brewery manager is generally responsible for overseeing all operations and monitoring staff. Except for large industrial breweries with their own HR on staff, most brewery managers will also need to advertise for, recruit, and train new staff – and probably handle dismissals as well.

Supplier coordination and inventory management 

One of the most important roles a brewery manager plays is that of the inventory manager and coordinator. They’re ultimately responsible for ensuring all supplies and ingredients are in stock so that production can always continue at the expected volume. They also need to stay in close contact with brewery suppliers to make sure that supplies are ordered and delivered on time. Finally, the brewery manager also works with distributors to get the brewery products out to various sale points and wholesale customers.

Financial management 

Handling the brewery’s finances is one of the manager’s main responsibilities. They need to keep track of all spending, most importantly, the purchase of ingredients. They also usually pay utility bills, rent, and supplier invoices, as well as staff wages. If the brewery also runs a taproom for customers to visit and taste the products, there will be servers and cashiers who handle customer payments. However, it’s ultimately the responsibility of the manager to ensure all payments are correct and accounted for.

Marketing 

Bigger breweries may have their own marketing departments, but the average independent brewery typically depends on the brewery manager to oversee marketing operations. This can include setting budgets and selecting the tone and style for advertising. A brewery manager also may work closely with a marketing agency to create ads and promotions to attract customers to the taproom and pull in large wholesale orders of their products.

Customer service 

You might think that managing a brewery has little to do with customer service, but you’d be mistaken. Breweries produce products that need to fulfill customer’s needs. So part of customer service is keeping a keen eye on consistency and product control, and that’s typically the brewery manager’s job. Having products in stock and delivered on time is also a crucial component of serving customers.

If the brewery also has a taproom or provides tours, there will be even more service given to visiting customers. The manager ultimately has to keep customers happy and solve any issues that arise so that customers always have positive experiences with the brewery.

Regulatory, safety, and legal compliance 

It’s the manager’s responsibility to see that the brewery follows all regulations and complies with local and state laws for the production of alcoholic beverages. This includes monitoring cleanliness and product quality. However, the safety and accessibility of the production area are also the manager’s concern. Staff also need to be provided with health and safety training by the brewery manager to help avoid accidents and protect the brewery’s products from contamination.

Essential skills of a brewery manager 

Is a brewery manager born for the role? An old Czech saying goes, “Blessed is the mother who gives birth to a brewer”, and they certainly know about brewing beer! Whether the skills of a brewery manager are inborn or developed over time, there certainly is a wide variety of them needed to succeed at the job.

Leadership 

Great leadership is essential for a brewery manager. With 189,413 people employed in the brewing business as of 2022, each brewery has lots of staff who need direction and guidance in their roles. This is something a successful manager should be able to provide. They should also demonstrate high levels of motivation and dedication to the job. They not only guide staff but also lead by their example to help all staff succeed in their roles.

Communication 

Isn’t running a brewery only about making beer? Not if you’re the manager. When working with your staff, you’d also need excellent communication skills to get your directives across clearly and also to listen to and understand their concerns. You’d very likely also be reporting directly to the brewery owner and require the ability to do this clearly, directly, and efficiently. Finally, brewery managers need great communication skills to build and maintain solid relationships with both suppliers and customers to ensure that production and sales run smoothly.

Organization 

A brewery manager needs to be highly organized. First and foremost, they need to maintain their own schedule effectively and keep on top of all their tasks. They’re also in charge of scheduling workers and monitoring their daily tasks. But they also need to keep inventory and ensure that production is on track, which also requires excellent organizational skills to coordinate deliveries, production, and orders.

Problem-solving 

All businesses face problems, and breweries are no exception. If something happens to disrupt production, such as an equipment failure or a batch contamination, the manager needs to be able to think on their feet and provide solutions to keep things on track. Likewise, any issues with customers are also the domain of the brewery manager. They need to be able to put the customer’s needs first and ensure that problems are solved positively and to the customer’s satisfaction.

Understanding of the industry

While it isn’t necessary for a brewery manager to have experience as a brewmaster, they still need to understand all the ins and outs of beer production. Experience in the industry and knowledge of brewing and products is therefore essential. They also need to understand how to market and sell brewery products. In breweries with taprooms, tastings, and tours, the brewery manager should also have a solid comprehension of how to deliver a positive and fulfilling customer experience.

Tricks to being a successful brewery manager 

Build an outstanding company culture

To succeed as a brewery manager, it’s extremely useful to cultivate a positive and inclusive work environment that makes staff feel recognized and included. By building a strong company culture, staff will feel more a part of the team and be encouraged to work hard, contribute more, and, most importantly, stay with the job long-term. This can keep motivation high and staff turnover low, both things leading to increased efficiency.

Create a great guest experience

Breweries often operate tours, tastings, or entire taprooms that invite customers into the brewery to try out their products. Providing a great guest experience, then, is a highly effective way of drawing in new business. This can involve creating a fun and entertaining experience and also giving attention and service to your customers. When they have an excellent time and taste excellent beers, they’ll be much more likely to not only buy but also recommend your products.

Stay up to date with staff training and cross-training

While it’s necessary to train new staff, don’t forget your current staff as well. As policies and procedures can change over time, it’s useful to re-train staff periodically to keep them up to date. Cross-training is a useful tool for teaching staff about each other’s roles. This can help to improve cooperation and even provide staff with options for lateral movement within the brewery.

Never stop learning 

There’s always more to learn about management and about the brewing industry. Managers can stay competitive by joining courses, workshops, and conferences and also by learning about new technologies to improve both quality and efficiency.

Great Brewery Managers

The best brewery managers have a wide array of skills and years of experience in the brewing industry. They apply these skills to their wide-ranging roles and responsibilities to help them succeed in this competitive industry. 

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