Long ago I moved to Ellensburg to continue my education by acquiring a degree from a university. Like many starving college students I needed a job and was just stupid-ass lucky enough to get one washing kegs for Iron Horse Brewery. I was pretty excited as any 20-year-old kid would be. But, as I continued to grow in my position and acquire more hours (and thus knowledge) working at the brewery, going to school full time didn’t seem feasible. I had a realization that I wouldn’t be able to do both. So, like a responsible adult I wrote down the pros and cons of dropping out of school to brew beer. As it turns out I could really only think of pros and my list of cons was pretty short.
First of all, school is always going to be available. Whether I do it now or later, let’s be honest, it won’t be difficult for me to get accepted. I mean I got in once and it was pretty easy. A lot of my friends from high school somehow managed to get accepted at a university and if you ever had the pleasure of meeting them you would understand how baffling that is. If those goons got in once, I have a good feeling I could get back in for a second time.
Second, the brewery industry can be a pretty tough nut to crack. Brewing jobs for the most part are pretty difficult to acquire. The reason for that? The craft beer industry is full of kickass jobs and a lot of cool people who love what they do. When people love what they do they don’t leave and they inspire others to want to join them. This creates an industry where openings are slim and competition is high.
Before getting the job washing kegs I had literally zero brewing knowledge and barely knew what the word “craft” meant. I grew up in a town where the flagship beer is Keystone light and “good” beer is Coors light. But one of the greatest parts about this industry is that people are always willing to teach, lend you knowledge and answer any questions you have, whether you have a degree or not. And when people love what they do, they have no problem talking to you about it…a lot.
My conclusion was that when you get an opportunity to brew beer, be proud of something and hang out with folks in the coolest industry on Earth…well screw school! The notion that you need a college education to succeed is just silly. Too bad about my degree though, really wanted to hang it on my wall.
P.S. When you tell your parents you’re dropping out of school to brew beer they might not be too happy.