Rising junior Theo Richards is spending the summer in London, working in one of the world’s oldest industries—the making of beer. Thanks to a Robert S. Goodfriend Internship grant, overseen by Bowdoin Career Planning, Richards is spending his days at Southwark Brewing Company, a craft brewery tucked under a railway arch on the south bank of the Thames, near Tower Bridge.
The aim of my internship is basically just to give me some experience working in a commercial microbrewery, and get some exposure to the world of craft brewing. Over the past few years I have become increasingly interested in the brewing process, but due to the drinking laws in the United States, I had to go all the way to London to get work in a brewery. I guess that just adds to the adventure!
I think my official title is brewery intern, which basically means I do the grunt work like cleaning casks, filling and emptying the mash tun, and occasionally helping to do deliveries. Sometimes they let me add hops to the kettle! People always tell you brewing is just glorified janitorial work, which kind of makes it seem like a thankless job. I wanted to see if I would actually enjoy it and explore it as a possible career path.
Guess what—brewing IS just glorified janitorial work. However, glorified janitorial work isn’t actually that bad, especially when you love the product you’re making. I’ve learned that working in a brewery requires you to really love the beer you create, otherwise it can just feel like pointless manual labor.
Overall I am definitely enjoying my time at Southwark, but I do have to admit it is a bit of a reality check for me. I expected brewing to be much more glamorous than it actually is. So while it’s not all I predicted, it is still a good experience to have, and I am still seriously considering brewing as a career path.
Yes, I do get to taste the beer. I don’t think anyone would ever agree to work in a brewery if they couldn’t! Sampling the finished result is undoubtedly one of the best parts of the job—but for me it’s not THE best part. My favorite activity at the brewery is measuring out the hops. They always smell so fantastic!