BOYS dream of football careers, young men dream of being Kylie Minogue’s bodyguard, but for many men in their thirties and forties, the dream job is brewing.

More than 130 new independent breweries opened in 2012, and sales of real ale rose by 2 per cent.

“People are almost lining up to join the industry,” says Paul Mellor, boss of five-year-old Harwich Town Brewery.

So what does it take to get to the stage where froth can pay the mortgage?

A trade gathering of Essex brewers at Rochford Beer Festival gave the opportunity for some 8 per cent proof concentrated advice from those who have made the grade.

Brewing is a job that can be done with relatively little capital investment, and no formal qualifications. However, all the brewers offering advice stressed the need for experience.

Philip Wilcox, of Wibblers Brewery, Mayland, said: “Most of us cut our teeth by brewing beer at home for our own consumption and our friends. You can have great parties very cheaply, but you don’t make any money at that stage.

“What you also get, apart from pleasure, is the chance to make mistakes, and get it right by trial and error.

“I did home brewing for years, until one day I won the top prize at the Maldon Beer Festival and realised there might be a chance to do the job professionally.”

Philip now employs four people. Brewer Charlie Saville, works for Crouch Vale brewers, and also works as a freelance consultant for start-up breweries.

He said: “I learnt my craft on the job, which is how most of us did it. You can go to college to study academic brewing and get letters after your name, but nothing beats experience. A lot of the good brewers I know are self-taught.”

All the brewers also stressed the physically demanding nature of the work. Richard Venour, who has just opened a one-man operation in Rawreth, had been hard at work since 4am to take advantage of cheaper power rates, and didn’t expect to be in bed until 11pm – although he had taken time out to attend the Rochford festival.

He said: “If you’re going to make a living out of brewing, you can’t expect to work a nine-to-five routine. But I’d still rather work round the clock as a brewer than be stuck behind a desk doing a 35- hour week.”

Paul Mellor, who worked for Customs and Revenue before pursuing his dream to brew, had just spent half his day “shovelling stuff.”

He said: “In my first week, a friend of mine saw me and said, ‘I see you’ve started your new job, then’. I asked him how he knew.

“He said, ‘Your clothes are dirty, you haven’t shaved, you’re looking tired – but you’re also looking really happy’.”