Friday, 5 March 2010

Moving on

As I sit writing this I am at my bar drinking a beer that we currently call Zippy Red IPA. It's a great 6.2% beer loaded with American hops. There is a certain sense of pride I'm feeling as only the other day I drank Sierra Nevada Harvest in North Bar and wished I'd brewed it. This batch of beer tastes just as good. Result.

Despite this I'm feeling a mixture of emotions. We've been here for 6 years. We've worked very hard and put much in the way of capital into the business. We're quite exhausted and need to be able to hand over to somebody else who can continue to nurture this ancient Inn for a while. We've never owned her you see, legally of course we have, but really we have simply been her guardian for a little while. Today we exchanged contracts on the sale of the freehold to very worthy people. We feel relief, heavily plated with bereavement. This is not to mention the huge worry of what happens next and how we make a living. Oh, and the small detail of where we will live.

I look back and see what we have achieved. When we bought this pub we had never run a pub before, never even run any sort of business before. I'd never brewed beer and only spent a limited amount of time in a commercial kitchen. For that matter I had never looked after real ale, luckily I am a quick learner.

We seem to have made a living at the job. We also seem to have improved the building. I'd like to think we have shown that it is possible to run a pub in a way that is unique and prove that it makes just as much profit as trying the traditional appraoch. It also seems that if I went back to my old job, bought back my house and lived my life as I had done, I'd probably be a little better off due to the marginal capital gains achieved. Of course the house we lived in probably isn't on the market and my previous work place might well decline any approach.

Still, I don't want to go back to that way of life. I have gained tremendous skills and insight into the beer world, the pub scene and the wider hospitality industry. I know how to brew beer, and if you don't mind me having a moment of big headedness, I'd like to think some of the beer I brew is really rather good. Moreover, the incoming owners couldn't quite afford to purchase the brewery and all the goodwill associated with the name. I am getting to take that with me.

It's scary; I'm going to float Hardknott Brewery as a stand alone entity. I will of course continue to supply The Woolpack Inn with beer. Some products will probably be exclusively brewed for the Inn, depending on the arrangements we agree. The brew kit has been relocated in a new property and I'm engaged in considering branding for the wider beer world. I'm looking at the options for capacity expansion as 2 barrels per brew really doesn't cut the mustard for an independent plant.

So that's it, that is the secret plan I've been working on for a couple of months now. It takes a while to get all the ducks in a row and until today it needs to be kept under wraps. The good news for all you blog readers and beer geeks is that one way or another my beers will reach further afield. I don't know yet what proportion will be cask and what will be esoteric bottles, but there will for sure be some of each.

I'm sure there will be lots of questions, there are certainly many running through my mind, but for now, you'll have to excuse me, I've got a brewery to assemble in some secret location....

35 comments:

The Beer Nut said...

Best of luck with it all, ex-Woolpack Dave. I'm sure you'll keep us posted :)

Sid Boggle said...

Wooo, big doings Dave. Good luck with the new stuff!

Kristy said...

Very exciting - very best of luck!!!

I wonder if you'll be able to get ketchup in the Woolpack now........

BeerReviewsAndy said...

Glad u finally got it sorted! Glad we visited when we did! Can't wait to see the new brewery! I am inviting my self for a tour as seen as I'm keeping stum on the location!

Good luck to you and the family hope it really takes off!

Michael Ironside said...

Best of luck with the plans. Look forward to tasting some of your beer at some point in the future

Woolpack Dave said...

Thanks all for the wishes, of course it gives me lots to post about and it's nice to not have to keep mum.

Nut, yes, the problem of my handle is a pressing issue, as is my car number plate.

Kristy, i expect the new owners may relent on the ketchup, but you never know...

Andy, you will of course be welcome for a tour...

Baron Orm said...

All the best for your new life - it must be scary and exciting at the same time!

Looking forward to seeing Hardknott ales in pubs and beer stores around the country.

I look forward to reading about your journey!

Rabidbarfly said...

Dave/Ann, good luck! I'm totally sure you wont need it but hey it'll be fun reading about your new life and I hope to see you both soon.

Kristy said...

I'd like to be welcome for a tour too - and some brewing please

Tyson said...

Yes, good luck with the new venture. A month or two earlier and you could have snagged the contract to brew Tetley's. Or maybe not:)

John Clarke said...

I know I've not always agreed with you Dave but I have been a huge admirer of the determination you have shown with both the pub and your brewery. I'm delighted you will be keeping going with the latter and hope that your beers will find a wider audience - hopefully including us "dahn sarf" in Manchester.

My guess is that you will also feel more able to push the boundaries with what you brew. That's got to be a good thing (says he with beer geek head on).

Very best wishes for your future endeavours.

GraemeR said...

Wow - all the best with the move fella. Seems ages ago since I came up for my brewing experience. Don't suppose you got a vacancy for an assistant? lol

Stuart Bull said...

Good for you! We've been in our little place a couple of years and at the moment we're packed, with live music on and just finished in the kitchen. Now I'm looking at brewing, although not sure how soon will be able to take those plans forward, but soon I hope. Reading your blog has been an inspiration for me. Good luck!

Washy said...

Thanks for all the good times Dave and Ann. Good luck for the future.

StringersBeer said...

Good luck sir.
Don't brew too much...

Tania said...

Very exciting stuff - wish you both all the best embarking on your new endeavour - and I hope to get to taste some of your beers in the near future as well!

Whorst said...

A bit shocked Dave. I'm hoping you plan on providing a new telephone number. We will need to talk again at some point.

Barry M said...

Sounds like a great move, Dave, and by all accounts you've got the hard part behind you and have the knowledge and experience to grow this. Looking forward to seeing it all grow :)

Rudgie73 said...

Best of luck Dave - long term reader, first time commenter!

Tandleman said...

What everyone else says Dave. I look forward to visiting your new set up. Good luck to you.

Brian, follower of Deornoth said...

All the best in your new venture, Dave.

mybrewerytap said...

Congratulations on the new venture, im sure it'll be a success. If you'd like to sell some bottles through our site, you know where I am!

Barm said...

I wasn't expecting this so soon! Congratulations and all the best. If there are trademark disputes you can always just switch to Woolly Dave.

BeerReviewsAndy said...

dont forget that we are gonna do the woolpack walk to celebrate the new venture...

The Beer Justice said...

Best of luck Dave. Bigger and better, onwards and upwards.

Mark said...

Exciting stuff Dave. Re the twitter handle and number plate... YOU are Woolpack Dave and you always will be, it's more than just the pub, that's like your superhero name!!

Can't wait to try more of your beer - good luck, and remember, if in doubt, add more hops! (that'd be my brewing mantra)

Rob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob said...

The brewing force is with you Dave so I know you will sucseed in selling loads of quality beers.

ChrisM said...

Good luck Dave, exciting times! I've really enjoyed reading your Blog over the past couple of years.

Shelagh said...

Good luck, Dave, looking forward to hearing what comes next! Hope you'll soon be blogging again, here in Ennerdale we all enjoy reading the posts and having a good old argument about some of them! If there's anything we can do ....

Cooking Lager said...

Good Luck mate/ Might buy the gaff myself and flog lout!

Richard said...

Blimey, that's a surprise! All the best for the future.

Leigh said...

Good luck Dave. Let me know if there is any way I can be of help. You're a brave man but only brave men get things done!

Knut Albert said...

Good luck, hope to try some of your brews the next time in England!

Paul Garrard said...

Good luck and best wishes for the future.

Why not have a go at out Brew Dogging Brew Dog?