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Odd Jobs: Passion for home brewing hobby ferments into career

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IN THE KNOW
Who: Erik Schmid
Career: Home brewer supplier, instructor
Business: The Brewmeister
Where: 802A Reading St., Folsom
and 1031 Junction Blvd, Suite 802, Roseville
Phone: (916) 985-7299 (Folsom), 916-780-7299 (Roseville)
Website: shopbrewmeister.com

A former software sales executive who holds a financial degree has found his calling with something once dubbed “liquid bread” – beer.

Erik Schmid is 42, married to Lisa, and has a 5-year-old son named Oliver. Raised in Cameron Park, Schmid and his wife settled in Folsom six years ago.

Schmid lives in the Folsom Historic District and if so inclined, could walk to work. His business, The Brewmeister, is located at 802 Reading St., Folsom. They also opened a second store in Roseville.

“I did all sorts of stuff before this,” said Schmid. “I went to school in Chico (and earned) a finance degree.”

He jumped into a financial company, which led him to software sales and the dotcom boom. For a while he toiled away at IBM, before joining a tech startup. That’s when the dotcom bubble burst and he found himself unemployed. Through all those changes, one thing remained constant – his love of home brewing.

A friend urged him to take his home brewing hobby and turn it into a career by going to brewing school. So he did.

“My friend convinced me to do the American Brewers Guild,” he said. “That’s when I met Lisa. I had aspirations to open a pub, but as newlyweds, we didn’t think it would be good (for our marriage) and would take too much work.”

He took his sales skills and turned them to real estate.

“I started selling homes,” he said. “But as a home brewer, I bought all my supplies at this store (The Brewmeister) when it was down on Riley Street (near Sutter Street). Eventually, the owners talked to me about buying the business.”

He said his skills in business, finances and sales were the perfect marriage with his hobby and The Brewmeister.

“We bought it (in 2004) and grew out of that spot within two years,” he said. “That’s when we moved here (to 802 Reading St.) so we could have a warehouse, better parking and offer classes. Parking was a real issue in the historic district.”

Schmid has held many jobs with more than a few companies. He said he has 27 different business cards representing the various organizations and jobs he held with them over the years, including once helping coach basketball at Oak Ridge High School.

Who might be the common customer for The Brewmeister? Just about anyone, he said.

“I have Folsom police officers and firefighters who are brewers or winemakers, but it’s engineers who really get into it,” Schmid said. “The basic kitchen-type brewers could be male or female in their late 20s to early 40s. It really varies.”

He said the winemakers who shop his store are a completely different clientele.

“When you add in winemaking, it’s a little more upscale,” he said.

What kind of traffic comes through the doors?

“We probably have 3,500 customers I see once a quarter between the two stores,” he said. “It’s bigger than you think.”

What does he enjoy about his job?

“It’s like cooking almost,” he said. “It’s creative and there is a real sense you’ve done something special. Many home brewers keg it and when you have your own tap at home, it takes you to the next level with your friends.”

He said unlike other high-stress jobs he’s had in the past, this one is more about having fun.

“The cool part about this job is it’s a hobby shop,” he said. “We aren’t dealing with crushing, critical issues like a doctor or mechanic. Usually, everybody comes in with a smile on their face because they are doing something they love and you are helping them do it.”

Aside from the home brewers, he said the shop also links him “with the craft brewers as well like Lockdown Brewery or Jack Russell. Almost all those craft brewers started as home brewers. They all have that dream (to earn a living at their hobby), but only a small percentage will ever do it.”

He said people looking to get into the field should love the hobby of home brewing first.

“This was something I loved so it was easy for me to do,” he said. “It took a long time, too. You need a partner willing to support you. It took three to four years before we made any money. Now I do this full time.”

Editor’s note: In this series, we’ll take a look at careers outside the norm. If you have ideas for Odd Jobs, submit them to donc@goldcountrymedia.com.