I quit my job. Decided to take my family on a world tour. An adventure of epic proportions. And then told my wife. I should perhaps have done that first.
It was, I guess, a mid-life crisis. I had just turned 41. I’d been at my job for 7 years. Long enough. I find that 7 years is about right for me. After that I get a bit bored. A bit restless. And fancy a change.
Jobs for life. Careers for life. Those days are gone. I’ve tended to opt for a new challenge. Constant learning. Reinvention.
Accountant to Banker (I know, don’t hate me for it) to Investor to Entrepreneur to Brewer?
It was half way around the world and half way through our 8 month journey that I fell in love. I was in Sydney and I’d had beer before, of course, but not beer like this. The beer I remember from my youth was brown, flat and not so alcoholic that you couldn’t throw it down your neck with abandon.
Growing up in Manchester, I have fond memories of Boddingtons. And those adverts, of course.
But as I grew up, I switched to lager. Not entirely sure why. It tasted worse but was more alcoholic. I can’t even recall having a favourite brand. Maybe I was just trying to fit in with my new soft Southern friends...
But back to Sydney, 2015. There is a thriving craft beer scene in Sydney, taking their inspiration from the US and I decided on a whim to go on a brewery tour (Dave’s brewery tour in fact - highly recommended). I’m not sure why I went. None of my family wanted to go. None of my friends in Sydney either. It was just me. I wasn't even that interested in beer at the time (this was pre-love).
We visited Young Henry’s, Batch and Willie the Boatman. I learnt what the key ingredients in beer were (I know - I knew nothing). And how you could vary these ingredients to produce different drinks. Complex drinks. Which looked great. Smelled great. And tasted amazing. So different to anything I had tasted for years.
I was hooked. This was only in March. But since then, I've become obsessed. Like any new romance, my attention is laser focused. And un-dying. I've since visited breweries in Wellington (Garage Project), California (Telegraph), New Jersey (Brooklyn Brewery) and London (Camden Town Brewery).
All the time, I’ve been reading. Learning. Absorbing.
And now I’m back in London town. I have no job. But a drive to do something I love. And has to involve beer.
So the question is: can a complete novice, with no home-brew experience, start a brewery, and actually make beer that people will pay to drink?
I don’t know.
I've been taking advice from anyone who will listen to my crazy idea. They have all told me not to bother.
But I’m going to do it anyway. I feel compelled to do so. Driven.
And my plan is to document the journey. So any fool out there who's ever had the thought, “How hard can it be to make beer for a living?” can follow my journey and know the real answer. The truth.
And the reason why everyone tells you not to bother...