From city accountant to brewer all in just in three months – a fairly radical shift? On the face of it, I’ll admit it is.
If truth be told, this change had been longer in the making than the time between finishing my career with Deloitte in August 2008, and proudly sampling our first beer on 26th November 2008.
So where did it all start?
Earls Court, Great British Beer Festival, August 3rd 2006.
Simon and Glen – two university friends – and I were sitting together searching the vast list of beers on offer. We were looking for a beer brewed in London – other than in Chiswick. To our surprise there was not one. So – after admittedly a few too many – we hatched a plan to bring brewing back to the heart of London.
Six months later and still fresh with our exciting new idea, I took my first step to becoming a brewer; purchasing three second-hand tanks of a five-barrel brewing plant from an ex-brewer. That is when I learnt my first lesson; I quickly discovered three tanks do not a brewery make. Despite my best efforts to get this five-barrel plant operational it never saw any brewing during its lifetime with me.
Twelve months on and I decided it was time to take this venture more seriously; I signed up for a week-long course in brewing fundamentals at the University of Sunderland. It was an excellent week and despite the lecturer’s’ best endeavours to dissuade the class from venturing into the industry, I came out unperturbed and re-focused on what I needed to do – find premises.
While I was looking for premises, I had the opportunity to meet a successful brewer by the name of David Welsh who was the former managing director of Ringwood Brewery. Having been brought up in Salisbury on a staple of Ringwood Best Bitter, the chance to meet him was priceless.
Shortly after our first meeting David dropped a bombshell; he was interested in being involved but only if the plant was four times the size! In retrospect it all made sense but at the time I didn’t quite know what to say…
Remarkably, I said yes, and there we were – an unlikely partnership – with a fully operational 20-barrel plant in Battersea, marketing our first pint of Wandle Ale.
I do hope reading my story has given you further insight our venture; I would be delighted if you would visit us at the brewery and to join us in bringing brewing back to the heart of London.