Friday, January 25, 2008

Dream Job

While "chief beer officer" might sound like a jokey nickname for your football-watching buddy who's responsible for buying the suds every Sunday, there is at least one person in the country who has this actual job title and gets paid for it: Scott Kerkmans.

Four Points by Sheraton hired Kerkmans last winter as part of a publicity stunt -- the job opening was announced in a large ad splashed across the front page of the Wall Street Journal's Marketplace section. (In order to demonstrate its high-minded intent, the ad cautioned that "no lager louts need apply.")

Almost 8,000 people from more than 30 countries applied, with 7,000 passing the company's initial screening by correctly answering 20 beer-related questions such as "What makes a beer bitter -- the barley or the hops?" (Answer: hops.) The next round consisted of an essay and written application, with the remaining candidates being asked to produce a five-minute video of themselves discussing why they should be selected. Four Points posted the videos from four finalists on its website and asked the public to vote for a winner, and Kerkmans' video, in which he toured the brewery at Chicago’s Goose Island Beer Co., secured roughly half of the public’s 12,500 votes.

Kerkmans, a longtime beer aficionado, now finds himself in the enviable position of being required to make annual trips to Germany’s Oktoberfest, the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, and other notable beer conferences; receiving roughly a case of free beer each month to sample; and going on frequent V.I.P. tours of local breweries.

The 28-year-old Kerkmans admits that his duties are far from onerous. "I get a paycheck, but it certainly pales in comparison with the perks," he says.

After graduating, Kerkmans volunteered to do grunt work at several breweries in Salt Lake City so he could learn more about brewing, and he finally landed a job as a brewer for the Alaskan Brewing Co. in Juneau. While there, he passed a three-hour exam to become a certified beer judge, which allows him to officiate at contests, including those at the Great American Beer Festival. After returning to his hometown of Phoenix in 2005, Kerkmans worked as a sales rep for one of the country’s largest beer distributors and co-founded (with several friends) and wrote for Draft magazine, a publication about beer culture.

"It's my dream job," Kerkmans says of being C.B.O. "But then, I think it’s everyone’s dream job."


yellowdog granny said...

wow...that would be a cool job..if i still drank i think i could have been in the running..

dom said...

Wish I'd known, I'd have applied :-)

yellowdog granny said...

yeah, and you would have done it for free...

dom said...

Possibly ... hahaha!