Last year, Texas Craft Brewers Guild launched an Instagram series called #BehindTheBeer featuring the people behind the scenes working hard to bring you excellent Texas craft beers. As you can imagine, in an industry that has a $4.5 billion-dollar impact on the Texas economy, there are a variety of jobs that extend beyond the brewing process including packaging, laboratory technicians, quality assurance, marketing and much more.
Craft Beer Austin has partnered with the Texas Craft Brewers Guild to expand on #BehindTheBeer with a series of articles featuring each highlighted Guild member.
For this installment, meet Jessie Smith, Lab Technician for Saint Arnold Brewing Company.
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Today for #behindthebeer we introduce you to Jessie Smith, Lab Technician for Houston’s @saintarnoldbrewing. Here’s how Jessie describes her job in the craft beer industry: “My day to day involves running tests and performing sensory to ensure the quality and consistency of our beer. I run forced diacetyl and VDKs everyday and perform IBU/SRM and micro work throughout the week. I finish out the week by leading our sensory panel where we train employees on the various off flavors that they might encounter. My favorite part of my job is that I'm able to use my degree in a way I never thought I'd be able to. I still have the challenges that come with the science side of this job, but it's balanced by the always exciting world of brewing.”
Tell us just a little bit about your brewery & what your day-to-day looks like:
I work in the lab at Saint Arnold Brewing Company in Houston, TX. My day-to-day work involves running tests that ensure the quality and consistency of our beer. This includes testing for IBU/SRM, micro plating, and of course, tastings. I also run our weekly sensory program where I train our employees to be able to detect off flavors.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Without getting too cheesy, I really do love every aspect of my job. I work in a laid-back industry, but I’m also met with challenges and hard work on a daily basis. All in all, it’s rewarding to be a part of making a product that I’m proud of and happy to release to the consumer. The free beers and fun coworkers are a nice perk as well.
What did you do before you started working for a brewery? What brought you to this brewery?
Before I started at Saint Arnold, I was in school in Buffalo, NY. I was studying biochemistry and doing a research project when I realized that I didn’t want to pursue a career in medicine or academic research. I then began a desperate search of industries that needed someone with a research background. I specifically had experience with yeast as a model organism, so I applied to breweries, wineries, and distilleries all over the country. When Saint Arnold offered me a position, I was excited at the idea of moving to a new city and starting a career in a field that I knew little about. Ever since, brewing science has become my passion and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
If someone asked you to describe the current state of today’s craft beer climate what would you say?
Houston and Texas as a whole are doing some really great things in the industry. There’s always a new brewery that I want to explore and the ones that I frequently go to are putting out some really great beer. It’s been interesting to see the appearance of Brut IPA as a style and to see all the different interpretations of it.
What’s the most interesting story behind one of your beers?
Most recently, Citrodos has been a favorite of mine. We opened a new beer garden and restaurant next door to the brewery and started putting on a bunch of new beers. Citrodos started as a Beer Garden only release but was so popular that we recently released it as a year round beer. You’ll have to ask our brewer Derrick for the meaning behind the name.
What beer other than your own, are you currently drinking the most of?
I’ve been trying to get to all the Resilience IPA releases around Houston. It’s been fun to see everyone’s take on the recipe.
To keep up with the #BehindTheBeer series on Instagram, simply follow the hashtag and follow the Texas Craft Brewers Guild. If you are a member of the Guild and would like to participate in this series, please check the latest Guild newsletter for details.