Survey Update and Appeal

If you're a brewer, cellerperson, or work in packaging, please take a few minutes to fill out this survey. Thanks!

As of 9:35 this morning, I had 320 responses to my brewery compensation survey. Despite my initial (entirely speculative) goal of a thousand, I'm delighted by the number. Every researcher knows that getting responses is the hardest part of the battle, and you've been wonderful in engaging this. I've set a new target of 500 responses, and I'll keep the survey open until I get there. So, please fill it out if you haven't already. I would like to offer special encouragement to those of you who work on packaging lines or as cellar-folk. That is one area in which the responses are a little low. Please share the link with brewery workers and help me hit the target (I can't repost forms, so you have to go to the original post to take the survey).

Initial Results

As the results have been coming in, I've been looking at the data to make sure they conform with the typical distributions you'd expect to find. For example, since most breweries in the country are small, we'd expect to see more responses from them. And indeed, the responses form a nice sloping line in the expected distribution. Similarly, you'd expect to see more shift brewers than master brewers, and that's been the case, too. I've been looking at the names and emails to spot patterns of possible funny business, but there don't seem to be many I'll have to delete.

As of Friday late afternoon, the regional distribution was better than I expected. This blog has a disproportionate number of readers from the West Coast, but the responses haven't followed suit. It does look like the Mountain West is a bit underrepresented given Colorado's brewery population, but otherwise, looking good:

Northeast - 24%
South - 18%
Midwest - 21%
Southwest - 6%
Mountain West - 8%
West Coast - 23%

Finally, I did a quick glance at the income distribution, and was not surprised to find that salaries tended to be low. Without adjusting for position, 58% of respondents make less than $40,000 a year; 42% make $40k or more. Only 21% make more than $50k. In the final report, of course, I'll break salaries out by job title.


The comments have been great--I really appreciate them. They add texture and nuance, and I'll curate a representative sample for the final report. What they provide is a voice you don't find in the numbers alone--and that is true for good workplaces as well as bad. Here is a brief sampling.

  • "Been with the company since the beginning and was always told healthcare is 'something we are working on' but at this point no one believes it."
  • "As a salaried position I have unlimited time off as long as my boss approves it. A portion of my pay is a bonus structure, but the goals were set so that I should always receive my bonus. I also get sent to events all over which I consider to be a nice bonus."
  • "I feel like my salary is more tied to industry averages than it is to actual cost of living in my area. I am not able to live alone or prepare for retirement in my position and pay. For the amount of work I do and time I sacrifice for this business, I should be compensated more than I am. I’m also in a glass ceiling environment, where I’m not able to get a promotion until my head brewer moves on."
  • "Dental and vision insurance also offered, 7 days of vacation annually to start, going up to 10 at the start of second year, paid holidays, weekly beer allotment, professional due reimbursement."
  • "Small brewery, typical problems. Spotty OSHA compliance, but I wouldn't say unsafe. I enjoyed working here, but know that the pay scale will never increase much beyond what I'm making now."

I hope the numbers and comments help provoke discussions, and that breweries and workers have a chance to see what their peers are doing right--and wrong.

Jeff Alworth