by Mike Killelea
I was in the middle of back to back Main Street brews tonight when I went to my office to check in on Hazel, my bull terrier. I heard someone ask our bartender – “Hey, is that the Brewmaster?” She said yes. For a brief second, I started to look behind me. Then it hit me – they’re looking at me. The “Brewmaster.” I hate that term. Same with Master Brewer.
It’s not really that I hate them. Hate is a strong word. I think they’re misused. And sometimes grossly inappropriate. I am not a Master Brewer. I am a brewer. I sometimes call myself Head Brewer – in a brewery with one brewer. Back in my Legend days, I used to jokingly call myself the Lead Brewer. But really, I’m just a brewer. And I’m fine with that.
I’ve been brewing professionally for almost seven years. I went to brewing school (American Brewers Guild – which I highly recommend for all those aspiring brewers). I did an internship. I’ve attended conferences on brewing. But I am not a “Master Brewer.” And neither are countless others who use the term (you know who you are!). My instructor at the American Brewers Guild (did I mention that I highly recommend that place?), Steve Parkes, he’s a brewmaster. John Mallet of Bell’s, he’s a brewmaster. The guys running the AB plant in Williamsburg – brewmasters (I know! Sacrilege!).
I have not truly mastered all the minutia of craft brewing. Lord knows I’m trying. But I feel like I’m learning something new all the time. Every time I talk about brewing with another brewer, I feel like I’m learning. Every brewing book that I read, something new. Sometimes it’s a little morsel from a brewing magazine. Anyway, maybe I’ll feel differently in 20 years. Till then, I’m happy with Brewer.
Actually, I stand corrected. I am a Brewmaster. Damn you Wikipedia.