To quote from the orginal 1982 business plan for the BBC, "... in 1880, there were more than 12,000 small breweries. In 1970, only 5 were left. (at the time of writing) ... there has been a small scale explosion ... resulting in over 100 going concerns." Not a bad summary. We only got two things wrong back then: underestimating the strength and growth of the real ale renaissance and (not for the last time) trying to cope with the Venture Capitalist mentality.
If it hadn't been for the dim-wittedness of the potential funders and a job offer, the BBC would have been in full scale production back in the 80s. Would we still be here? Well, we hope so - it's all down to the quality of the beer and that's one thing we have not been criticised for so far. Despite the flood.
We'd done the research, tested the recipes on local pubs, got provisional orders. Thanks to the Union Manager at Surrey University, Hari Sutherland, we had a distribution deal and significant investment with the local independent drinks distributor, FW Francis. Many breweries and brewing experts had helped with advice and sharing their own valuable experience - and friends and supporters had rallied to the cause. After many ups and downs, we had the lease on the premises ready to sign (thanks, Mary), the engineering expertise to convert it and install the plant (hi Nigel), equipment and ingredients (see "thanks to"). All we needed was the final 40% of funding - £20k - in cash.
We thought we had it from, would you believe, a locum optician. And then he went to the GBBF in Leeds and, as he told us, "met a guy in a bar who told me the real ale boom was over". Git. Double Git. Inaccurate Double Git. The deal collapsed. If you need to know why it has taken so long to get where we are now, ask your bank manager how much they would lend to someone living in rented accomodation with no assets. Yep, that's right!
Nonetheless, we're quite pleased with our survival even though it's on a smaller scale than we originally planned. After all, we outlasted Watney's, Bass, Charrington's and Worthington's and still brew more beer than that chemical factory near Junction 11 on the M4.