volunteers: real american beer-oes featuring jason freed

By Carlos Arellano

You know those folks who poured you a fresh beer at your favorite brewery last weekend? Chances are they were probably volunteering that day. Heck, they probably started out as volunteers and got lucky enough to land a full time gig. Some of your favorite beers have been brewed by hard working people who started volunteering at the brewery and moved on up to that dream job. But, is it really a dream job? Most people don’t realize how much hard work goes into making the beverage we hold dear to our hearts. If you’re interested in working at a brewery this series of interviews might encourage you… or make you think twice about taking the difficult challenge. We talked to some of Austin’s finest breweries searching for folks who took this path and tried to shed some light on these real American Heroes Beer-oes.

Rich Homie Jason Freed

Beer Barron Jason Freed of Hops & Grain Brewing (Photograph by Tyler Malone, The Second Shooter)

First up in this series is a dear friend of ours, Jason Freed from Hops & Grain Brewing. If you’ve ever been to the H&G taproom, you’ve probably seen or talked to him. If you haven’t been, what the heck is wrong with you!? Go this weekend and say hi to some of our pals. Jason will be the dude walking around in the Nascar-style H&G hat, waterproof boots and drenched shirt. He’s probably been there that day since before you woke up. Although, to be fair, that describes most of the H&G staff. Let’s get to it!

Hops & Grain Taps

Hops & Grain a flowin’ (Photograph by Tyler Malone, The Second Shooter)

Stay Hoppy: What do you do at Hops & Grain?

Jason Freed: My business card says Beer Baron, but primarily I brew and run the main brewhouse.

SH: What made you want to volunteer in the first place?

JF: I was really into craft beer and wanted to find a way to actually be involved in the community in some way other than consuming. I had a friend named Zach Cook (you may know him as dumdik) who encouraged me to talk to breweries about volunteering. He basically set me down the path that I’m on now. I think the possibility of getting a brewery job was always in the back of my mind, but when I started I had no idea if that was even possible. When I started volunteering it was just a way to have fun and feel like I was a part of something awesome. And also to get free beer.

SH: When did you start volunteering, when did you start full time?

JF: I started volunteering at Hops & Grain at the beginning of November 2012 and got hired mid-January 2013.

SH: Do you think volunteering is a good way to get hired by a brewery?

JF: I think volunteering is probably the best way to get hired at a brewery. Most of the employees we have at Hops & Grain started as volunteers in one capacity or another. There’s just too many questions that a résumé doesn’t answer. A résumé doesn’t tell you about someone’s work ethic or sense of humor or whether you can stand to be around them all day every day. Having the face-to-face time and proven experience in a work setting that comes from volunteering is absolutely more valuable than words on a page, especially if you’re looking for an entry-level job.

SH: Is H&G still accepting volunteers? How can someone volunteer there?

JF: We are! We’re looking for volunteers to pour in our taproom and fill various roles at in-house events. People who are interested can email info@hopsandgrain.com to get set up. You need to be TABC certified if you’re interested in one of the pouring positions. If you’re not TABC certified, you should be. It costs $15 and takes 2 hours online. Definitely a useful thing if you’re trying to volunteer at breweries.

SH: Do you have any suggestions for someone wanting to get into volunteering?

JF: Absolute number one thing is BE RELIABLE. I’ll try to expand on that without going into a “lazy, entitled millennials with your this and your that” rant. I think that people feel like since they’re not getting paid it’s not a big deal to not show up or to cancel all of a sudden. But if you want your volunteer opportunity to turn into a job opportunity than just treat like it already is a job. Other than that, be flexible about time and tasks, have fun and bring food. Everyone loves food.

SH: What’s a misconception that people have when it comes to volunteering?

JF: Turns out pimpin’ IS easy.

There you have it. In the words of a true poet: “Pimpin’ IS easy.” If you’re interested in volunteering for Hops & Grain, shoot them an email and make sure you’re TABC Certified, it’s pretty darn easy. I urge you to drop by the taproom this weekend and try some excellent Greenhouse beers. Make sure to take the tour and ask Bob Galligan a ridiculous question. Hours and Tour info:

Our tap room is open Wednesday-Friday from 2-10pm and Saturdays from 12-8pm. Tours of the brewery are held Wednesday-Friday at 5pm and Saturday at 1, 3 and 5pm. Tours are FREE, last about 45 min. and sometimes include special samples not available in the tap room. Hope to see you soon!

We’ll be talking to more American Beer-oes in the coming days so stay in touch on Twitter or Facebook.


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