In a Rut

“The Brewer’s Backstory”-Episode 19

May 2009

The Brewer's Justice cover

Coming January 2016!

The day shift supervisor, a tall, thin man, ushered Brad Peters into the simple conference room and had him sit at the head of the table. The five-member interview team looked friendly, not out for blood, at least. He disliked job interviews. The questions always hinted at traps and hidden agendas, and he never knew how long or short to make his answers. He felt like a defendant with the jury judging him and every word he spoke.

Technically, it wasn’t like he was interviewing for a totally new job. All he wanted was to get off the graveyard shift at Coors. Moving from the brewhouse to fermentation wasn’t that big a deal as far as he saw it. He liked the brewhouse, but after two years, he’’d had enough. He didn’t want the decades to slip away so he ended up like Carl, who bragged about Reagan being president when he had started.

The biggest reason, though, was Maddy. When he’d gotten the job right out of CU, she’d been thrilled about the salary and benefits. In fact, he suspected the money had been a major factor in her push for marriage. Now, a year after the wedding, she increasingly expressed her discontent with his work hours. “No wonder Carl’s on his third marriage,” she had snapped last week.

The interview started with introductions. The woman on his left was Margaret, gray hair in a ponytail, shift operator. Mel followed, black guy, bicep tat partly visible. Brad didn’t get the name of the guy with the bad haircut or anybody after him. The interview had them all starting their day early, freshly showered and ready to go, while Brad was coming straight off eight hours in the control room. For sure, he was the youngest person here.

The first questions, basic and easy enough, pumped up his confidence. This baby was his. He could feel it in the vibes around the room.

“Tell us about a time when you faced a difficult situation and how you solved it,” Margaret said. She seemed business-like and efficient, easy to work with.

A difficult time? Blowing up the glass bottle in high school chemistry and causing Mary Beth Larsen’s parents to almost sue the school and his parents. At sixteen, that had qualified as difficult. And he solved it by learning to homebrew during his suspension, which, if it hadn’t been for that, he wouldn’t be sitting in this interview. Probably not what this committee wanted to hear. Difficult situations. There had been a few challenges during his time on the graveyard shift, but it was all stuff that kept his job from getting monotonous.

“That night last January,” he began, “during the snowstorm, when almost the whole city of Golden lost power, as the brewer on duty, I had to reboot everything. I had to decide what to do with the four brews underway, understand where each of them had been and how the outage had affected them. I had to make a lot of decisions very quickly, reset temperature set points, adjust boiling times, etc. We didn’t lose a single brew.”

It was a good example, one he was damn proud of. From there, he sailed through the remainder of the interview and walked out, feeling good. This job was his.


Brad stood in the control room and looked out at the brewhouse below. He spotted Carl in his rubber boots, hosing down the area around Kettle #3. The eight kettles held 600 barrels each, nearly 150,000 gallons in all, 50,000 times those five-gallon batches Brad and his dad used to brew in his parents’ kitchen.

Time had crept by during the eight days since the fermentation interview. He hadn’t heard from HR yesterday, which bothered him. They’d probably call today, hopefully before his shift ended and not once he’d gotten home and gone to bed.

When Ron, the day shift brewer, arrived at seven, Brad went over the state of the brews with him. They were nearly finished when his phone rang. “Brad Peters speaking,” he said to Ramona the HR lady as he wandered towards the door, the boatload of confidence long departed.

“You were one of three finalists. . . interviewed really well,” Ramona was saying. “The panel was really impressed by your technical capabilities, your ability to troubleshoot, and,” blah, blah, blah. “Unfortunately, a candidate with a lot more experience in fermentation. . .” Brad wasn’t listening anymore.

Maddy was going to be pissed. Shit, he was plenty pissed himself. He stormed out of the control room. Ron and the day’s brews could go to hell. All he wanted was to be as far away from Coors as possible.

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