Most beer enthusiasts resign themselves to enjoying their passion on their own time, brewing and drinking when they’re not at work. But for Peter Charbonnier, owner and brewer at Populuxe Brewing in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, beer is more than just a hobby: it’s a full-time dream job.
(Photo Credit: Peter Charbonnier, Populuxe Brewing)
Charbonnier was kind enough to take some time away from creating the perfect brew to speak with PayScale about how he created his ultimate gig – and how other people can, too.
PayScale: What do you do, and what makes it your dream job?
Charbonnier: I make beer! I know that for some people “drinking beer” sounds more like the dream job, but for me, the satisfaction of crafting something delicious for people to enjoy makes this the perfect job. From the concept through execution, producing craft beer is a creative outlet which I enjoy above all others. Talking to our customers who enjoy our product and keep coming back for another pint is the icing on the cake.
PayScale: How did you find your way to what you’re doing now?
Charbonnier: Well it was a roundabout journey, but one which a lot of craft brewers are familiar with. I started as a home brewer and my gear slowly outgrew the garage. I found a larger garage down the street and, having had a lot of positive feedback from friends and relatives, in 2012 my wife Amy and I decided to make the leap and open up commercially. So far the response from the community has been tremendous and we feel really fortunate to have so much support from our friends and neighbors. We continue to grow and the future looks bright for Populuxe.
PayScale: What’s an average day on the job look like, for you?
Charbonnier: There is no average day. In addition to being the head brewer, as an owner of a small business there’s a lot of little things which always need attention. Paperwork, shipping/receiving, plumbing and electrical work, ordering shirts and other swag, scheduling employees, gardening (we grow some of own hops out front), bartending, making deliveries, chatting with customers, and general troubleshooting are all on the list.
PayScale: What’s the best part of your job?
Charbonnier: Actually brewing the beer is where I find the most satisfaction. It’s a heavily time-constrained process requiring a lot of attention to detail, so having a plan before you fire up the equipment is key. In the end, though, you get to sit back, hang out with your friends, and enjoy all the hard work that goes into each pint.
PayScale: What’s the toughest?
Charbonnier: Probably dealing with the various government agencies. Being in the alcohol business means you get to interact with city, county, state, and federal entities. It would be nice if they all talked to each other and made things just a little easier from a bureaucracy standpoint.
PayScale: What would you tell someone who wanted to follow your path?
Charbonnier: Quality is king. You know in your heart if what you’re doing is good. If it’s good, go for it. The world needs more good, local beer. If it’s mostly good, hit the books for a while and brew more often. I was only homebrewing for five years before I went pro, but in my last year, I brewed 260 batches. Quality, repeatability, and dedication should be your watchwords.
PayScale: What else should we know about your job?
Charbonnier: The Populuxe Brewing tasting room is located in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle and is open Thursday through Sunday. We’ve got some draft accounts around town, but if you want the full experience, come on down and say hi! We’re usually nice to people.
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