Future brewers learning the ropes at Myrtle Beach breweries

For Weekly SurgeDecember 9, 2013 

When I was in college, I had the opportunity to do an internship at a design agency. Far from glamorous, my internship was still better than the nightmare internships that I’ve heard stories about. Young, wide-eyed undergrads fetching coffee and buying lunch for the office – just to add a bullet point to their resume. That may be fine for people seeking a job in marketing or journalism, but what about those chasing a dream career in the brewing industry?

Meet Josh Caputo and Jacob Rice – two future brewers who are beginning their careers right here in Myrtle Beach. Caputo is finishing up his education at the American Brewers Guild with a five-week apprenticeship at Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant at The Market Common. Rice finished his internship at New South Brewing last summer and has been hired as a part-time employee until he goes off to the Guild next summer. They were both excited to tell me about their experiences working in a commercial brewery.

“I’m learning a lot. (Brewmaster) Michael (Grossman) is showing me the ropes. He’s showing me how the brew house works and how it differs from other brew houses. I’m enjoying every minute of it,” said Caputo.

Originally from West Virginia, Caputo’s education at the American Brewers Guild started with online classes. Before the 5-week apprenticeship started, Caputo was able to spend a week at the Vermont campus and meet all his professors and fellow classmates. They spent each day learning a different aspect of the brewing process. Caputo said that he enjoyed the brew day the most, but the day they got to drink beer was actually the day that he found to be the least enjoyable.

“They tainted several glasses of beer with off-flavors to help train our palates to detect flaws that are related to problems encountered in the brewing process,” Caputo said.

At the end of December, Caputo’s internship will be over and he plans on moving back home to start job hunting. The Guild offers job placement assistance and will hopefully help Caputo find a job in the industry. When asked where he wants to take his new career, he says that he wants to work in a brewery doing cellar work and eventually work his way up to head brewer.

“I know that I want to work in a brewery, but I’m leaving my options open as to where,” Caputo said.

Caputo got his start like many other professional brewers – as a homebrewer. He started the hobby seven years ago and decided that he wanted to take it to the next level. He applied to the American Brewers Guild a year-and-a-half ago and was accepted. The waiting list prevented him from enrolling right away. Caputo has this advice he would give anyone looking at brewing as a career: “I think it’s definitely worth the time to go to the American Brewers Guild and go through the program. I’m getting a lot out of it.”

Meanwhile, Rice is slated to start his brewing education at the American Brewers Guild next summer. Rice interned at New South Brewing from April through July. He discovered his love for craft beer while in college in Atlanta and began homebrewing. But ultimately, his career choice was inspired by a trip to the Guinness brewery in Dublin, Ireland after backpacking around Europe.

“I took a graduation trip to Europe and toured a few breweries. When I was at Guinness, something clicked – it was so cool. I decided that was what I wanted to do,” said Rice.

So, upon his return, he applied for work at several breweries, quickly finding out how tough it is to break into the industry with no experience or formal education. A friend introduced him to New South Brewmaster and owner, David Epstein. Epstein put Rice to work scrubbing kegs. He has since learned how to operate the canning and kegging operations. While interning at New South, Rice discovered that a class was being offered at the American Brewers Guild in summer 2014. He applied and was accepted. He will continue to work part-time at the brewery until he goes off to Vermont to study at the Guild.

Rice says to anyone looking to take the same career path: “Keep at it – the payoff is quite good. Personally, this is one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever had.”

We wish Caputo and Rice the best of luck in their new careers and hope to be drinking their beer soon. For more information on the American Brewers Guild, go to www.abgbrew.com.

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout

Goose Island of Chicago has seen distribution around Myrtle Beach for a little more than a year. However, I was really surprised to hear that we were getting an allotment of my favorite Goose Island brew - the much sought-after Bourbon County Brand Stout.

A thick, decadent imperial stout, Bourbon County Brand Stout clocks in at a massive 14.5 percent ABV (Alcohol By Volume). A monster beer, this silky sipper saw its release on Black Friday at the Piggly Wiggly at Market Common. Michael Byrd, store operator, said that about 20 people were lined up to get it when he arrived at work at 7:30 a.m.

Bourbon County Stout can now be found at select retail beer stores around town. Enjoy a bottle this Christmas – it will definitely get you in the holiday spirit and keep you warm.

Contact John Garner at MBCraftBeer@gmail.com and follow him at www.facebook.com/TheNewBeerman.

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