I was on the brewing bandwagon about 5 years before it became trendy, and by the time it did, I thought myself lucky. I was a legal brewer before I could legally drink, and in a world where everyone seemed to be getting certified, I was ahead of the game. Or so I thought.
While I’m still the youngest, I’m starting to notice the age gap slowly closing. Not because I’m getting older, but because the trainees are getting younger. What does this mean for our profession? What does this mean for our teaching? What does this mean for our students?
I’m not going to lie, all of my favorite brewers are older than me. They have been brewing for over a decade, and there is a quiet competence in their brewing. I haven’t stumbled upon many young brewers who are as intelligently submerged in the brewing. When new brewers come to me for training, I send them to my teachers—older, wiser, more experienced—people who I trust to give a good, solid answer.
Why am I not giving these answers myself?
I suppose some part of me still believes that I’m an amateur brewer. I am asked to create safe spaces for personal growth while I am still growing and shaping myself. I have a strong, ever-changing brewing practice that honors my age.
It was my first teacher—older and wiser—who believed my youth to be my greatest advantage. He told me there is energy within young brewers that cannot be faked. We appear instantly relatable and perceptive. We sit up there brewing with our hearts cracked wide open and a myriad of insecurities just beneath the surface, brewing with a wild inhibition engendered simply from our youth.
These trepidations of the unknown worries that we’re not good enough and aspirations for recognition lead young brewers to turn outward, rather than inward, when doubts or questions arise. When left to our own devices, we turn to friends and colleagues for advice, rather than turning inward to our own. Yet here is where young brewers have the power to set ourselves apart: like our teachers, we have the capacity to turn inward, and the more we do, the better our teaching will become. Svadhyaya (self-study) doesn’t come from age or experience, but through passionate dedication to the practice.
This is, of course, is where we all started. We recognized that there is something happening within the brewing practice that brings us closer to ourselves. But the young brewers of today, armed with brewing degrees, have been unleashed into a world filled with easy distractions such as Instafame, competitions.
Suddenly, what first brought us to our brewery has been replaced with an anxious, obsessive desire to be noticed.We watch other brewers sell out them self and retreats, and we cling to the idea that we are only a few years away from a similar stardom. But we’re not. And we shouldn’t be.
As this industry becomes increasingly competitive—pressuring us to focus outward on time slots and brand ambassadors, brewing .what we need more than ever is an influx of passionate, young brewer dedicated to Svadhyaya—the practice of facing in. This means taking the time to, understand the brewing texts, studying biology, biochemistry and embracing constructive feedback. We must keep showing up, time and time again, with that same energy and enthusiasm that brought us here in the first place—the commitment to personal growth.
As more and more young brewers get certified, we can either promote ourselves or pro-brewing.We can shine briefly and burn out quickly, or we can stick around for the long haul, staying curious and malleable, willing to change and grow with our age—constantly reading and absorbing new information—but continuously rooted in the reasons why we came.
This is my intention.
We are part of a large industry with only a little influence, but we have the capacity to inspire genuine connection and growth. What makes us special is that we don’t have all the answers; our brewing skills are accessible, energetic and changing. We must embrace our youthful insecurity, using it for growth, staying vulnerable and relatable as we become the older, wiser, mentors of the future.