Hello and welcome to the part of the Beer in Hand Website that tells you a bit about how we arrived in Hereford and opened our own brewpub.
So, how did a lawyer, and an insolvency specialist, living in Northamptonshire end up running a micropub in Hereford?
We began our real ale (and cider) adventure in early 2011. It was at this time that a momentous decision was made. We decided that the prospect of doing our existing jobs for the next 30 years was enough to make us want to drown our sorrows, literally, by diving into a large mash tun.
Instead of diving off at the deep end we decided to pursue an alternative line of work – to run a pub.
Already keen drinkers of real ale and cider, in 2012 Alison’s mum then chipped in by passing us an article on the recent phenomenon of micropubs (thanks Jess). It seemed perfect. A chance to run a free-of-tie pub serving a large selection of real ales and ciders without being tied to the usual big breweries or pub co's.
After visiting a number of existing micropubs, notably the original micropub Butchers Arms in Kent and our own local the Olde England in Northampton, and researching the topic in extreme depth (which inevitably required the quaffing of much fine ale and cider), Beer in Hand was born.
Sorted. Now all we needed was a suitable premises. What could be simpler...
It was at this point we decided, with a complete disregard for common sense, why not set up somewhere completely new which offered an improved quality of life? Easy...!
Unfortunately, due to extreme indecisiveness, particularly on the part of Mitchell, thousands of miles were travelled, lists of potential areas drawn up and researched, property websites trawled, before a decision was even near being made. Business plans, cashflows and budget spreadsheets stretched for miles, whole rain forests were destroyed as we procrastinated in paperwork. Sometimes being from a ‘profession’ only helps you to do one thing – avoid making a decision!
Luckily, the choice of location for our micropub - and new home - was made all the easier following a holiday in Herefordshire to visit some friends. It turned out that Herefordshire, with its beautiful countryside, history of hop growing, friendly locals and abundance of cider was the perfect place for us.
We stayed at the wonderful cider farm and guesthouse Broome Farm (www.broomefarm.co.uk) run by the Draper/Johnson family. We were welcomed to the guesthouse with a jug of cider and some of Hilary Draper’s delicious cider cake. We were on to a good thing.
By chance during our stay at Broome there was a small get together in the farm's cider cellar and, despite being complete strangers, we were offered a warm welcome by the ‘regulars’ together with all the cider we could drink and wonderful impromptu performances on the ukelele and harmonica. Mitchell, in particular, had an epiphany at about 9.30pm that evening – this was the life for him. Whether that epiphany was due in no small part to excessive consumption of Mike Johnson’s excellent farmhouse cider (www.rosscider.com) has yet to be confirmed or indeed denied...
In between all of the cider drinking we also found what we felt was the perfect premises that very same weekend.
We returned to Northampton laden with local produce and brimming with ideas. We made the Landlord an offer for the premises he couldn’t refuse and the rest is history...
Two years (almost) on and Hereford has seen a resurgence of independent restaurants and bars opening - all inspired by Beer In Hand. We've set the standard that others can only strive to achieve locally. But, as ever, we stay ahead of the game and over the next 12 months you will see us push forward with our own brewery Odyssey Brew Co, with Beer in Hand being it's exclusive 'brewpub' outlet in Herefordshire. Inspired by the American Craft beer scene and love of the brewpub culture in the US we produce vibrant, interesting beer, something sadly lacking in Herefordshire for far too long. Already our beer has been at some of the UK's best pubs and they are all clamouring for more...watch this space as we never stand still.