When I was thinking of leaving teaching and setting up Wildcraft, I visited as many breweries as I could. I was desperate to glean information, to work out how you jump from a small setup in the shed (my other half would say all over the house) to 100's of litres at a time and most importantly, trying to work out if was something I could achieve. I met some great people along the way and some very good brewers but the ultimate piece of advice that many wanted to pass on was 'Don't do it!'.
Now, for those of you that know me, the easiest way to get me to try something is by telling me not too but in this case, I thought I had better investigate further...
Reason 1: 'Your life will be taken over by it'. I will be honest, this was something that really didn't phase me. I remember sitting one night in the living room, laptop on my lap, marking students work. My other half was a mirror image, sitting across the room and I said, quite innocently how I wished I could be out of education running my own brewery. 'But you will be working all sorts of hours' was the reply. She obviously didn't see the irony of what she was saying as we both then continued to work well into the night!
As it is, yes, the place has taken over my life but thats ok, it will for the first few years but its all part of making sure we do this right! The main difference is that I am myself again, teaching was killing me, I had lost sight of who I was and why I was doing things, I was constantly grumpy and depressed... Not any more!
Reason 2: 'You will just be a glorified caretaker'. To be fair, this one is a true one! I spend more time cleaning the place than doing anything else (although you wouldn't know it sometimes) and this can become quite monotonous. Having said that, I have been the maker of my own demise here, why wouldn't I put a lovely light coloured floor paint in here which shows up every mark, footprint and stain?
Reason 3: 'Its not as easy as you think, its a big jump'. Well excuse my language but no s**t sherlock. I never expected it to be easy, I was well aware that recipes don't just work first time and that going from a small brew to a big doesn't always transfer how you would think. But thats all part of the fun of it, experimenting, finding the best flavours and making something from them. Believe me, we have plenty of unlabelled bottles in the cold room that were experiments that may or may not have gone well.
Reason 4: 'Its a crowded market'. This one is very true, that's where I needed something different... Thankfully, I was already planning on using foraged ingredients so this one was thrown out before I had even got past my first half pint!
And that was it... They were the reasons I and maybe you, if you are thinking of setting up, shouldn't do it. Having taken those on board, I went ahead and did it anyway and am so thankful that I did. Even as I sit here now, typing this in a barn that is currently 3 degrees, I think to myself one thing, its so much better than teaching!!