The internships at Blue Hills Brewery in Canton are unpaid, but the people who hold these positions will tell you there’s more important things than money. Like free beer.
Beer is the currency at Blue Hills, a small craft brewery founded in 2009 that makes 10 varieties of beer and distributes them in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Interns are a vital supplement to the staff of eight salespeople, a manager, and brewmaster Andris Veidis. In addition to the beer they receive throughout their internship, hardworking brewing enthusiasts earn the right to work alongside Veidis, adding hops, taking temperature readings, and, of course, tasting the results.
Perhaps most important, it’s a stepping stone for a career in beer. At least three Blue Hill interns from the program have gone on to full-time brewing jobs with larger outfits like Harpoon and Cambridge Brewing Company.
Eric Bachli is among those who heard the siren call of suds, quitting his $87,500-a-year job as a research scientist at a pharmaceutical company and enrolling in an online associate’s degree program in home brewing. He then landed the internship at Blue Hills.
Today, instead of doing research into tissue repair and cardiovascular disease, Bachli cleans bottles and kegs, brews beer, and carefully studies the brewmaster’s techniques.
“You’ve just got to do what makes you happy,” said Bachli, 32. “I’m working real hard, not getting paid, and learning. I love it.”
Manager Jim O’Neil doesn’t track how many applications come in, but says there are usually 30 or 40 awaiting him each time he checks the company’s e-mail. When interviewing candidates, O’Neil said the most important qualification is a passion for making beer.
“The first thing I look for is that they’re interested in home brewing,” O’Neil said. “Because here, you’re actually part of the brewing process. You’re not just pushing a broom or pushing buttons on a computer.”
Bachli’s next step toward his beer career comes in January, when he begins studies at the University of California Davis’s Master Brewer program, where the waiting list is two years long. He suspects his work at Blue Hills gave him a leg up over other candidates.
“It’s a labor of love,” he said. “At end of day, we’re making a product, and we can taste it and see it. It’s such a cool thing to be a part of.”Dan Adams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @DanielAdams86.