Working it: Brewmaster John Stemler sees beer from grain to bottle
You would think that life as a brewer would be a constant buzz. Think of all the beer tasting you would have to do to get the product just right! We spoke with John Stemler, brewmaster at Free Will Brewing Company in Perkasie, and learned how much actually goes into crafting the perfect pour.
How long have you been at this job?
Since we got our final licensing in January of 2012.
When you get to work, what’s the first thing you do?
It depends on the day. On a brew day I get the hot liquor tank going. Then grind grains for the first brew. If it’s a bottling day, I get packaging ready for the style being bottled. Most of the other days I clean things, transfer beer from one tank to another, then clean something else.
Who do you work with, and what is your relationship with them?
I work with David Wood, the assistant brewer. He is great at picking up my way of doing things and does some of the tedious jobs so I can work on other things. He works well at a brewery because he can tolerate the long hours. We get along because we enjoy some of the same tastes in beer design and flavor. We often joke about ridiculous names for beers.
I also work with Dominic Capece, the business and operations manager and equipment whisperer. We don’t often brew together anymore, but when we did it was usually seamless silence since we had brewed together from the beginning. Now, we try and keep him away from brewing so he can man the bottling line and tend to the business. We work well in this business because our talents interlock and we share both similar and complimentary desires for beer flavors and styles.
How does your job make you feel?
Usually exhausted because we average about 80 hours a week. But we are excited to make this company grow.
Is this your main source of income?
This is my main source of income, but I still have some side work from my old life as a contractor. I also teach the Next Step class at Keystone Homebrew.
How do you feel your job changes or affects the larger community?
There is an overwhelming sense of town pride. I have lived my entire life in the town where we are located. We have raised money and donated product to several town organizations. Every little bit helps.