Brewery Apprenticeship Tackles Regional Demand

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Brewery Apprenticeship Tackles Regional Demand

George Rice, co-owner and director of Operations of 5x5 Brewing Co., went to STC with an idea and from that the STC Brewery Apprenticeship Program was born. (VBR)
George Rice, co-owner and director of Operations of 5×5 Brewing Co., went to STC with an idea and from that the STC Brewery Apprenticeship Program was born. (VBR)

Veteran-owned and operated 5×5 Brewing Co. is a craft brewery in Mission that is pioneering high quality beer by tackling a labor issue early on.

There is an ever-increasing interest for craft beer amongst RGV locals. A brewery apprenticeship program could very well be the missing link between supply and demand in our area.

With their rapid growth, 5X5 Brewing Co. anticipates labor issues to arise regarding the abundance of qualified and skilled personnel with the proper attributes for the brewing position. George Rice, 5X5 Brewing Co. director of operations, originally approached South Texas College with an idea that would not only benefit the company, but their staff as individuals as well in the long run. 

“We’ve been lucky so far that we’ve had the right people land in the right positions, but there’s a massive skill gap in the RGV so it’s very difficult finding people with the proper attributes for the [brewing] position,” shares Rice. 

What he didn’t expect was that STC would be so quick to respond. Even more so, that they would roll out an entire program dedicated to this special request. 

“I thought maybe they could pull some online classes and offer them there, but STC laid out all the groundwork [and started the] apprenticeship program instead,” he says. 

What to expect

5x5 Brewing Co. brewers and apprentices Joe Rivas and Cody Mazur take a break from the brewing/production process. (VBR)
5×5 Brewing Co. brewers and apprentices Joe Rivas and Cody Mazur take a break from the brewing/production process. (VBR)

The Brewery Apprenticeship Program at STC is designed to better equip his staff with the skill set necessary in brewing. Biology, chemistry and math are a few of the prerequisites a student needs before embarking on this program. The brewing itself entails a variety of knowledge and skills including calculations and preparation for the brewing itself.

Multiple employees are already in the program and they anticipate bringing more on board. Their focus lies more on producing a high-quality product they can offer at local nano-breweries. This program will assist their staff become seamlessly well-versed with the brewing process. This will thus allow the brewery to be even more efficient as a whole.

From the very beginning, the owners of 5X5 Brewing Co. performed a detailed market analysis of the area. The results reflect exactly what they’re now working to achieve.

“With our population, demographic, the booming craft industry in Austin and in Mexico, we have enough space and clientele in the RGV that we could have two regional-based breweries, several microbreweries and a bunch of nano-breweries,” says Rice. “[With this program] you’re going to have that skill set that needs to be filled.”

Putting the craft in craftsmanship

5x5 Brewing Co. is a veteran-owned and operated brewery located in Mission, TX. (VBR)
5×5 Brewing Co. is a veteran-owned and operated brewery located in Mission, TX. (VBR)

Craft beer enthusiast Leonardo Trevino is thrilled to hear that this type of program will be available in the RGV.

“People who enjoy craft beer don’t just see it as beer, they see it for what it is – an art form,” shares Trevino. “This program sounds amazing. The result [of the Brewery Apprenticeship] will be more microbreweries in the area which means more variety and variety is what craft beer is all about.”

Trevino is excited for the result and impact this program will have in the RGV. 

“Going out and trying new beers is always a hit and miss, but in the end when you try those really good brews you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise, it makes it all worthwhile,” he shares. “I hope this program prepares people to create their own brews so I can have more experiences like that here at home.”

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