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Is Whole Foods your next neighborhood brewery?

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Last week, while I was messing around on LinkedIn, I saw a grouping of words that caught my eye: Whole Foods Brewmaster. It was the title of a job posting based at the company’s store in San Jose, Calif.

News broke earlier this year that Whole Foods Market, the specialty foods supermarket chain, was potentially opening an in-house brewery at its Houston location. Already a hub for craft beer—many stores staff a full bar with an impressive selection of drafts and bottles—the headlines came as a bit of a surprise, but not a total shock.

“As we developed our beer program and made it better, putting beer bars in our stores and offering growlers in our stores, it just seemed like a natural evolution for us,” Whole Foods’ beer and wine program director Nichole Becerra told the Huffington Post last March. tweet

But after April, the brewery chatter stopped. So, I was struck with a renewed interest last week, while staring at a job posting for a brewmaster position beyond the Houston store. I reached out to Whole Foods’ beer and wine representative, but after multiple attempts, I still haven’t heard back. Then, this morning, I circled back to reference the job posting: It was gone. Probably just a coincidence.

After a little poking around, I’ve come across a few nuggets of information.

It turns out the Silicon Valley Business Journal got wind of the San Jose development last August, and wrote an interesting description of the planned brewery:

“One of the most talked-about features, the store will include a separate 6,000-sq.-ft., two-story craft beer brewery and tap room on the northwest corner of the site. (This is the company’s first-ever market to include a brewery).” tweet

Regarding that missing San Jose job posting, the only site that still has the full description is Black Career Network, which posted the job on Aug. 12. A few points from the posting:

* Brew Master will manage production brewing facility in store, and will be responsible for all brewing operations; this is a startup position and is responsible for management and oversight of the brewing department, creation of menus/recipes, budget oversight and assist in the marketing of WFM various tap rooms.

* Lead Assistant Brewer: Hire, mentor, train and develop Assistant Brewer to become a head brewer or Brew Master; hold AB accountable to expectations; perform annual performance reviews and maintain schedule for Assistant Brewer and outline Assistant Brewer responsibilities.

* Participate in and support the new product development process and continually research industry developments to keep the brewery on the cutting edge.

And a few of the qualifications:

* Minimum 2 years brewing and cellar experience; craft brewing experience preferred.

* Minimum 2 years brewing experience as brewer in production facility.

* Brewing Degree, Brewmaster Degree, Brewer Science Degree, Fermentation Science Degree or Degree in Chemistry/Engineering/Science Preferred but not required.

As for the Houston brewery, developments are in the works, too. According to a LinkedIn profile—which I won’t link here because it’s a personal account—it looks as though Whole Foods hired a brewmaster for its Houston store on Post Oak Blvd. in June. The unconfirmed new brewer previously worked at Saw Works Brewing Co. in Knoxville, Tenn.

That’s pretty much all I know for now, but I’m hoping you might have something to add. Have you seen any Whole Foods brewing developments? Maybe you snapped a picture of shiny new tanks, or heard whispers while sitting at one of its beer bars? Tell us in the comments.


Chris Staten is DRAFT’s beer editor. Follow him on Twitter at @DRAFTbeereditor and email him at chris.staten@draftmag.com.


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