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When Tom Rostron from Burnley in Lancashire (25) applied for a job as an Apprentice Brewer with Hydes Brewery, he had no idea that he would be up against 500 candidates competing for the much coveted position, or that he would be one of the UK’s first Brewing Apprentices.
Hydes is a brewer and pub operator located in Greater Manchester. The company has been brewing real ale since 1863 and they operate around 60 managed and tenanted pubs throughout the North West of England and North Wales. Hydes has a great heritage with over 150 years of history and the new Salford based brewery is entirely dedicated to the production of cask ales.
When he applied for the position, Tom already had an interest in brewing and had worked at some small breweries before. He had volunteered at a brewery in Baildon, West Yorkshire and also had done some work experience for Beer Nouveau in Manchester – a small brewery that makes historic and heritage ales. Tom said, “I decided to apply for the apprenticeship because I know it’s a better way of getting into your chosen career without racking up a huge university debt. You’re learning while you’re doing the job day-by-day and earning a wage.”
“I was amazed when I found out I was one of 500 applicants,” continued Tom. This number was then whittled down to 23 who were called into an assessment day. “We were given a variety of tasks, which involved beer tasting, designing a beer bar clip for a specific style of beer, and a group task,” explained Tom. “I think they were testing how well we work on our own and as a team while under pressure.” Tom was over the moon when he found out he had been successful.
Speaking about the apprenticeship Tom said, “I’m learning about traditional cask ales and slightly more modern cask ales alongside them. It’s a good heritage to have and to see that the old ways of doing things are still alive and well. I feel like I’m learning something new every day. It has been invaluable so far – it’s definitely improved my knowledge of the brewing process and all the nuances within it.”
Tom is being mentored by HIT Training Associate Brewer Trainer Mark Tetlow. Mark has 30 years’ experience in the brewing industry. He meets with Tom every six weeks to guide, teach and advise him how to put theoretical knowledge into practice in his daily duties. Tom is an apprentice in a cohort of nine other apprentices being mentored by Mark at different breweries throughout the country. Mark said, “The one-to-one sessions are hands on and I try to cover as many teaching styles as possible in order to broaden the learning experience. Tom is very approachable, keen and capable with an enthusiasm for the trade. It’s good that he’s not in isolation in his learning and he has the other eight apprentices in the cohort to speak to and share information with. I help to facilitate those relationships.
“Tom is very pragmatic,” continued Mark. “He looks at what he is working with and how he is using it and then I am able to fill in the gaps, answer his questions and give him an insight into the bigger picture.”
The Brewer Apprenticeship is a level 4 programme and will take Tom 18 months to complete. Once he has achieved this he will be a General Brewer as HIT include the industry recognised IBD (Institute for Brewing and Distilling) qualification ‘General Certificate in Brewing’ within the Apprenticeship.
Tom believes that apprenticeships should be pushed more and recommends them highly to anyone who is looking to get into a specific industry. “It’s a great way of learning while earning money, which is what people need these days’” he said. “Getting skills practically and on paper. By the end of the apprenticeship, I’ll be well-versed and ready to go!”