For the first 25 years of my career, I’ve worked in the world of advertising and communications agencies, in London and in Cape Town. But in the last 10 of these, I’ve spent a great deal of time working on beer brands. As a result I’ve gained a steady interest in beer, which eventually flowed over from simply marketing them, and into an interest in brewing the product as well. So a couple of years ago, I started home brewing, using all-grain methods, and I also started reading everything I could on beer production and craft beers. It was a revelation.
In particular, I was inspired by two individuals from the States – Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head, and Garrett Oliver from Brooklyn
Sam has written a couple of inspirational books, which I’ve read a couple of times: Extreme Brewing, and Brewing Up a Business: Adventures in Entrepreneurship from the Founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
And Garrett Oliver has written the definitive book on beer styles and matching them to food: The Brewmaster’s Table
But it was a holiday in the summer of 2009 which finally tipped me over the edge. I took my family to the Rocky Mountains, where we hired a big car and went camping for a month. Over the month I not only saw a lot of very beautiful scenery up & down the Rockies, but I also sampled a great many craft beers. A few days before coming home, we stayed in Fort Collins, which happens to be home to two legendary craft breweries: Odell, and New Belgian. I went to visit both, and made up my mind. I’d start a micro-brewery of my own.
I’d also had enough of simply writing PowerPoint presentations for a living. Since I was young, I’ve always enjoyed physical work - I suppose as a balance to using my brain for a living - as well as having a need to express myself. In my twenties, I bought a farm-house in France and spent 6 months working every day to renovate it. In my thirties I started my own agency in Cape Town. And in my early forties, I wrote a couple of business books.
So now I’m starting my own micro-brewery. I don’t think it’ll make me rich, but it’ll be a great second career. I’ll actually see the outputs of my labour: it’s something physical and tangible. I’ll be in control of my life and able to work as long as I want, until I’m 80 if all goes well.
And the thing that excites me most is that I will keep learning and creating. That’s what this brewery is all about, creating beers that are adventurous, and continually trying to make beers that can become world-famous. Measuring myself against Sam Calagione and Garrett Oliver from the US, against Teo Musso from Italy, and all the truly great brew-masters of the beer world.