Brewing. It’s in the family.
I first knew my wife Sarah and I were destined to be together when she agreed to leave a perfectly lovely few days break in Prague to attend a beer festival in the industrial town of Pilsen followed by a tour of the Skoda factory next door. As per pictures she’s become used to trips like this over the years.
Anyway, since our Czech trip, she has been to more breweries or at least a broader spectrum, than many in the industry. Her personal favourite remains a month in the mid noughties touring craft breweries in her native New Zealand. If it wasn't for such tours I wouldn't have met and formed a lifelong bond with Colin, my partner at Round Corner Brewing, and indeed, if it wasn't for Colin's desire to bring great beer to Vietnam he would not have met his wife Thuan.
A dozen years after our initial plans, Colin and I are finally building our vision at the market in Melton Mowbray. The advantage of doing it now versus then, is we have more experience and wisdom in both business, in brewing and, arguably, in life. We know that pulling off our vision of an iconic Midlands and UK beer means making friends and partners wherever we go but also looking after the people who enabled us to get here.
This starts with our families. Not the type of brewing families that go back multiple generations and have divisions of pubs to their names which provide them with a source of wealth and influence. My actual nuclear family. My wife Sarah and my three kids Ava (8), Columba (6) and Isabel (3). A family where the cash flow is only currently in the direction of paying great brewers and food makers for their wonderful products.
Family was very much on my mind this past weekend, when I had the pleasure of visiting a bunch of great bars and breweries in the Bristol and South Cotswolds area including Butcombe's new Methuen Arms in Corsham, Wild Beer @ Wapping Wharf and Tabacco Factory and Bristol Beer Factory in South Bristol and trips out of town to Lost and Grounded (sadly shut on a Sunday) and Moor Beer (surprisingly busy at 6pm on Sunday evening). Two weeks before that it was Matthew O'Callaghan's amazing Melton Mowbray Food Festival and two weeks before that it was the Traditional Native and Rare Breeds sale at Melton Market.
This isn't an unusual itinerary and around this we fit in trips to craft and livestock markets, museums and sports events because they are weekends and hence holidays. None of our holidays are conventional and all involve breweries and markets wherever in the world we go. So, they wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea, but as we all work and go to school, I am aware that without a certain family connection and dedication to brewing, to great food and to meet people who care about both, then we'd not get around and meet all the inspiring people one encounters in life and business.
First among these being, a wife I didn't know I needed so badly 20 years ago or 3 kids who are nutty enough (and susceptible enough to pre-briefings) to actually like visiting good bars and breweries as long as they serve juices and pizzas after 30 mins.....although not quite as much as they love a good cattle or sheep market.
For the sake of my ongoing education and inspiration in both, long may it continue.