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Monday, September 07, 2009

A Prost: To Brewery Workers on Labor Day

In order for a bottle or pint of beer to appear in front of us in a pub, a lot of people have to do a lot of hard work. Enthusiasts like me tend to focus on the results of recipe design, but the real work comes when its time to put perspiration to inspiration. Brewers often rise three or four cracks before dawn so they can begin the laborious process of making a batch. There's grain hauling and tun-cleaning: sweaty, hard work. People clean, fill, and haul kegs. Other people man bottling lines and then haul cases. (There's a lot of hauling.)

Breweries are places of hard work. During the long industrial period, breweries offered good jobs, too. Places like Henry's employed hundreds of workers, often in union positions. When Henry's shut down, Portland lost (if memory serves) 200 middle-class jobs with benefits. Most of Oregon's breweries are post-industrial, small businesses, but they employ far more than Henry's ever did: 5,200 people, according to the Brewer's Guild. No one gets into brewing to strike it rich (that's for the Bud distributors); instead, people accept long days for the satisfaction of producing some of the finest pints in the world.

So to every master brewer down to every keg-washer and everyone in-between, here's a hearty cheers. Thanks for all that hard work--we really appreciate it.

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