Hopportunity Awaits is a brew on a mission to help highlight careers in craft beer, and inspire more of us to hold the door for the unique talent among us, creating more pathways for diversity, in every sense, across every role. Partial proceeds will benefit Craft x EDU as we work together to launch an educational grant for emerging professionals in craft beer.
On the cans, you will meet 10 industry professionals who are ready to tell their remarkable stories of how they got their start and paved their own path in craft, rules be damned.
Without further ado…
Meet Ryan Cervantes, a skilled packaging manager on the Oregon coast. His motto? Never lose faith in the hustle.
Tell us your origin story. How did you discover the world of craft beer, or what inspired you to join?
I grew up in San Diego, California. This made it very easy for me to be spoiled with fantastic beer from the get-go.
The week after I graduated from high school, I started working as a plumber’s apprentice, and received my Journeyman’s license. I was a plumber for seven years.
During this time, the company that I worked for had an account with Karl Strauss, a brewery in town. I remember walking in the brewery for my first time being absolutely awestruck. I almost had to try to keep my jaw from dropping. Everyone seemed to be loving what they were doing and on that day I decided this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Fast forward three years. I decided to move to the Midwest, and was a plumber out there for maybe three months before I got an interview at a local regional brewery. I was able to get a job as the bottle filler operator and maintenance worker for the brewing facility and for the brew pub across town.
This ended up turning into a packaging manager role. After some time, I was able to transfer to the cellar where I started to really hit my stride.
I learned so much from my time there: packaging bottles, kegs, assisting with mobile canning, cleaning in place or CIP, cellaring, and leading tap takeovers and festivals.
After some time out in the Midwest I was fortunate to get a job at one of the top ten breweries in the country as a filler operator back out in California, so I packed my bags and hopped on a plane. Unfortunately, my girlfriend had to stay behind for some months until I was able to get fully settled, which we found to be a pretty difficult feat to accomplish, but we made it!
I worked out there for a few years to soak in all of the knowledge that I could. I got to take part in a sensory panel daily and developed my palate significantly.
I was able to learn how to operate two separate bottle fillers as well as all downline equipment. This is where I learned some basic quality control knowledge, but most importantly, developed some very good relationships with my coworkers who I believe will be lifelong friends.
After working in California, I got a job out in Alaska as a packaging supervisor. This was right when COVID-19 hit and the timing was less than ideal.
Though my time there was short, I took away a lot of knowledge on managing people and had more of a hand in decision making, and understanding the logistic side of brewing.
From there, I took a job in Oregon as a packaging manager of a top 50 brewery at Rouge Ale & Spirits. I have been out here for more than six months, and feel as if I am finally hitting my full potential.
Though I am still learning the ins and outs, the sky is the limit.
It’s been a long long road, but I’ve been able to keep my head down, clench my teeth, and make it into a career that I saw as just a reflection in a fermenter all of those years ago.
I’m very grateful for all of the opportunities that I have been so fortunate to have and for all of the fantastic people that I have met and that have guided me throughout this journey.
I owe my career to these people and I can only hope that people can hear my story and not lose faith in the hustle.
What do you love about the craft beer community?
I really like being able to collaborate with other breweries on processes. Everyone is really welcoming and forthcoming.
From a CIP process, to blending grain, it’s super cool that the craft brew community does that. We’re able to come together and pivot in times of need, just like creating hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Where would you love to see it grow or improve?
Truthfully, I would love to see more diversity as a whole. There’s always room for improvement, and we’re making moves in the right direction.
What types of skills have helped you personally succeed in this industry?
I have the ability to lead and communicate effectively, and see that everyone’s different. The relationships I’ve been able to develop throughout my career have been worth it all.
Who in the craft beer industry do you admire?
I really look up to Mitch Steele, brewmaster for New Realm Brewing.
Seeing him set up his own facility is a great thing, and shows you can do anything you put your mind to.
What is the most memorable brew you’ve ever had?
It might sound corny, but any beer I’ve been able to enjoy with my friends and family.
Or, any shift beer that I get to have with my coworkers. It reminds us that we do this because we love it. We can bring people together with what we create as a team.
Bonus: What are your takeaways from COVID-19? How were you able to pivot, was there any silver lining?
COVID-19 definitely put a damper on people’s moods. It makes you think about how you can pay attention to how those around you are doing personally. It taught me to check in, see where their heads are at, and how they are taking care of their mental health.
The possibilities are endless in craft beer.
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Click here to meet more of our talented rule-makers and read their remarkable stories. Once you hear what they have to say, you will realize that yes, you can brew it too.