Outside the Box Taproom Hiring Practices

engagement hiring staffing taproom education taproom operations Apr 14, 2022

I've had countless conversations with brewery owners and taproom managers about the importance, or lack thereof, in hiring "beer people." You know what I'm talking about - people who have already made craft beer a hobby and are now ready to take that relationship to the professional level.

But is it necessary? 

There is obvious value in hiring those who are already passionate about beer. However, I want to challenge you to see the value in those who may not  be highly knowledgeable about beer, but possess the skills to connect with others.

Think back to your favorite high school teacher. What was their name? What subject did they teach? What did you admire most about them?

For me it was Mr. Martin. Mr. Martin taught me history. And he didn't just teach me and my classmates about history, he got us excited for it. Mr. Martin would dress in character and give a speak as a historical figure. Mr. Martin would challenge us to look at past conflicts from both sides of the table and consider the actions. Mr. Martin didn't just want us to know history, he wanted to know us.

He wanted to be a connection.

After high school, I did not pursue a career in history; however, I do enjoy still enjoying reading leisurely on the subject. Mr. Martin was able to build a connection with the students, and in turn he made an impression on our lives.

A taproom owner I know in Richmond, Virginia was challenged like many of you in early 2020. His taproom shut down, he wasn't able to offer much of his staff continued work, and the word "pivot" became his motto. When the time came to reopen his taproom, he essentially had zero staff. While he had been able to provide work for a bit of his team in other roles, he wasn't equipped to staff his taproom to reopen.

So, what did he do? He looked outside the box.

His first hire was an out of work teacher. No real beer or serving experience, but a passion to connect with others. An educator.

This first teacher hire lead to another. And another. And another.

All in all, they hired 5 teachers to pour drinks and build relationships in their taproom. And it worked. These teachers were used to interacting with others and loved learning. They were able to immerse themselves in the company and beer culture to become great advocates for the brand, but more importantly, their ability to connect with people was the true success story.

In their prior classrooms, they were accustomed to interacting with a diverse mix of students. A taproom is essentially a diverse mix of drinkers with either zero to beer nerd level beer knowledge. Their curriculum simply changed.

Hiring a team of all teachers to work in your taproom may not be the answer. However, I hope it can serve as inspiration to look to unique outlets to fill positions at your brewery. 

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