Welcome people to Big Al’s #BeerHeroes blog. In the coming months you’ll be finding out about what makes me what I am and why I am why I am, and why I feel the way I feel about what I do. Do you get it ? No ? Me neither.
Right, can you lot at the back hear me ? Well if you can’t you need to pipe down as I’ll be asking questions later. Are you all comfortable ? Then I’ll begin.
To start with, I’m not from Greenwich, I’m from Abbey Wood. If you’ve never been there, let’s just say it’s character building. We’ve got a gypsy camp, a Lidl and I’m just waiting for an Aldi to complete a trifecta of death. If you choose to Google ‘Abbey Wood’ it just comes up with one link that says ‘Bandit Country’ so you’ve been warned. So how did I come across this brilliant drop of beer ?
Many years ago my mum owned what is now the Tea Shop in Royal Hill, Greenwich running it as a couture clothes shop. Yeah I know it sounds posh but my dad was a fashion designer and although they had split up because my mum got the arse ache with him constantly going to Hong Kong with his latest in a continual stream of young secretaries on ‘business’, she was still running the shop and living with my step dad. When my mum met Boyd he was the Superintendant Life Guard at Danson Lido, he smoked 60 fags a day and the only vegetables he’d eat would be processed peas out of a tin. That was when I was 11, so 33 years ago….I know I don’t look a day over 60 and I now make more noise getting out of bed than when I’m in it.
A few years ago, I decided to take a trip back to Royal Hill and look at the old clothes shop. Now because I’d walked at least 100 yards uphill, on the way back down I thought I deserved a wee libation, and chose to go into a pub I didn’t even know was there. That pub was The Greenwich Union. On entering I noticed the beautiful silver fonts and stainless steel bar. The first thing that came into my head was ‘How much could I get for this as scrap metal ?’ But instead of waiting to come back when the pub was shut, I noticed the CCTV and realized it would be harder to get away with it than I originally thought.
When I got to the bar I was met by an array of beers from a brewery that I’d never heard of and as well as that there was no ‘generic beers’ for sale. I was later to find out that I’d entered the first pub in London to sell no big brands from industrial breweries. On the pumps were names like ‘Helles’, ‘Kolsch’, ‘Porter’ and ‘Wheat’ beer styles that I didn’t have a clue about. I was then greeted by a young, enthusiastic lady who was no older than 20, I said to her ‘Alright little luv, do us a glass of beer babe.’ She replied ‘What would you like’ and I said ‘I ain’t got a clue sweets, what have you got ?’
Now let’s just take stock for a minute, you know when you’re not in the ‘loop’. People can make you feel like you ain’t in their little clique, well this young lady may as well have physically opened her arms and said ‘Come and join us’. She immediately poured me 3 or 4 samples to start with and encouraged me to look, sniff and quaff like I’ve never quaffed before. She was so excited, so positive, that I couldn’t resist her passion for what she was doing. Her attitude towards me wasn’t pre-meditated, falsely constructed or to increase the coffers in the till. Her words and actions were from the heart, she was so into what she believed in that she wanted to share it. Her infectious and unpretentious mindset still to this day gives me goose bumps. From that point on I felt like part of a family, something honest and true.
From that day onwards her attitude towards me made me change the way I approached beer, thought about beer and most of all, drank beer. For this reason people, if you choose to ever come down to our brewery on one of my tours I want you to feel how I felt on that day 6 years ago. What we do is like nothing else I know and I want you to be part of our family. To me, I felt that on that particular day I’d signed up to something that unbeknown to me at that time, I had no control over, and my Lord, I’m so glad I did !
I know I haven’t told you much about what we do, but I just wanted to get you where I’m coming from. If you cut me in half, I’ve got Meantime running right through me. By the way if you do try to cut me in half I’ll chin ya.
Thanks people, leave one in the wood for me. Good health.
PS the old man no longer smokes and likes his veg lightly steamed.