u - is for underprepared - Friendship Adventure

u - is for underprepared

We started this blog adventure (blogventure?) as a way to get mildly creative and to stave off some lockdown boredom (loredom?). Perhaps, at best, it could be seen as a nascent dive into what makes us four tick as a company. Also let’s not forget that it is first and foremost a shameless attempt to make our website more attractive for the purpose of online sales under the great eye of Sauron that is google’s algorithm. We now find ourselves in a curious position wherein we actually have a fundamentally important part of our story to tell (no disrespect to previous blogs chaps but hoo boy have some of them been scraping the proverbial beer barrel). You see, this edition of our desperate-attempt-to-improve-our-SEO-ranking concerns the fact that, since launching this merry blog enterprise, we have only gone and bought a brewery. Double pleasing is the fact that, through accident more than design, it is on our home patch of South London. Loughborough Junction we are coming for you! 


We know the area well. A previous iteration of the company - when only big enough to keep one and a bit colleagues in full time occupation - was based in this building. The address says it is in Brixton, but in truth it is at the ‘wrong’ end of Coldharbour Lane to be Brixton, sitting as it does proudly in Loughborough Junction (just by the station opposite the Tesco, if you are wondering). 

We moved out of the building, then a shared office space (think WeWork but with, you know, a working business model. And a soul) so as to expand. In the nicest possible way, we were damn proud to have loughborough junction as our new (and current) offices in clapham meant forward progress, growth and one step closer to world domination (although not according to google’s algorithm. Seriously we might as well be on Bing or something). Little did we know that, quite literally, true progress is going back. 


The building was bought by a development company and the units were put out to prospective long term tenants. Pleasingly, the history of the building was investigated and we were told, when we visited the large downstairs warehouse, that it used to be a grain mill and storage area back in the days of yore. Pleasing synergy! Quicker than an American can pronounce loo-ger-beroogah juncshion, the lease was signed and our new home for the next ten years (at least), was confirmed. The most recent and most major and most yearned for next step was taken and, two years of kicking ourselves because we could not find the right site, we were home. 


Quick break for a pretentious Shakespeare quote to gee us up that is Relevant To Our Interests (after all, we are based on Shakespeare Road) whilst the terror sets in. 


“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt”

  • William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Act 1 sc IV


Delayed gratification is a funny thing. It’s secretly a big part of brewing. A good brew day’s gratification is delayed as we wait for it to ferment. We won’t know how good the brew day was until a week later, ten days later, a month later (lager takes ages).  A day of bottling’s gratification is delayed as we wait for all the bottles to sell. A major sale to a pub group, or a private event, is only as good as the beer tastes on the day of the event. A live event can only be assessed in hindsight. Funny old game brewing, in that respect. So suffice it to say there was little time for celebration or sitting on laurels when there was work to be done. And this is where the imposter syndrome crept in. 


It’s not like we don’t know what we are doing. This is our job and we have been working towards it and learning about it for a long time. But it’s also a little bit true that in fact we don't know what we are doing. 


As a little listicle, this is the red tape you need to go through to get the brewery up and running: 


  • Initial works to the structure

  • Design the layout and the associated alterations to the property 

  • Source a kit / buy a kit / commission a kit from a manufacturer

  • Fire risk assessment

  • Flooring 

  • Power 

  • Planning 

  • License

  • Disability access

  • Building control

  • Build 

  • Electrics

  • Brew kit transportation 

  • Installation and commissioning

  • Practice brews 

  • Build a taproom if you are allowed to 

  • Have a big sit down 

  • Panic as you now need to sell a lot more beer and there is a global pandemic on 

We’ve spent the last four months working on the above whilst it sometimes feels like we have gone nowhere at all it’s also amazing how far we’ve come. The brewery is designed, a lot of the desktop stuff is done and we can’t wait to see how the space comes to life.


What no one tells you about running a brewery is how much time you spend bumming out about the floor. Did you know how specialised brewery floors need to be? They need to be level in the middle with a slight slant at the edges. There need to be drainage channels - with inspection chambers at allotted intervals. All of it needs to be sodding waterproof and that costs money. 


Sometimes a little imposter syndrome can be a good thing, I have always thought. Correctly harnessed and properly low flying, a fear of underpreparedness forces you to be prepared. Using that fear of impending deadlines to deliver - properly managed - can mean one as at the top of one’s game at the right time. Take me, for example. I know loads about brewery floors now. The next one I put in will be a cinch. But only because I have had a cold sweat about this one. So don’t get me wrong, too much imposter syndrome, or things that trigger that within you, can be hellish. I wish you all good mental strength and wellbeing. It’s the curious side of underpreparedness that we as a brewery have found to be an unlikely - and almost unwelcome - source of strength and cause for progress. 


And so, we end with another quote about gritty determination from some of Brixton’s finest - The Clash. 


“First they curse, then they press me 'til I hurt but Rudie can't fail”

Also - indulge me - something that has been bothering me since the ‘c’ blog. I forgot to include this in my bonus listicle comedy content; has anyone accepted an award better than Spike Milligan? 


Hands. Face. Space.

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