I started writing this blog post at the end of January, 3 days after finding out when our daughter would arrive into the world via a planned caesarean section. This will be a whirlwind read, as I cover a manner of topics, not all beer related, but things you will hopefully be able to relate to. Bear with me! 😊
Kiddy are Massive
If you hadn't already noticed, John and I are big Kidderminster Harriers fans. The 5th February (their 4th round FA Cup match against West Ham) was an amazing day and we were so close to getting through to the next round. You may have also seen that we commemorated the occasion with a limited edition version of Birdie, originally inspired by time spent in the Harriers Arms at the ground.
There was a lot riding on this game…
- Would Sam get through the excitement without inducing labour?
- Not usually a betting man, I had £5 on us to win 1-0 at 18-1
- The 5th round would be played on my birthday and I would be able to go!
- If we got through, how would I brew more special edition Birdie, especially with Sam going in for a planned C section on the Monday!
It was a crazy day and we enjoyed it massively, but we also enjoyed getting to know some new customers who found us as a result of this special day and beer.
Becoming a Dad
Thank you for all of your kind words and congratulations. Delilah Wren Lawson was born on 7th February at 10.06pm weighing 8lbs 5oz and is the new love of my life.
Before anyone asks, I have no plans to name a beer after her. I’m just not good enough to do her justice however, we do plan to bring out a new beer to commemorate this momentous event in our lives - COMING SOON!
Delilah's arrival does mean that my priorities have shifted in the short term as we get settled with our new eating and pooping machine, but we will be back on it in due course. Please check the events page for updates on when our next releases will take place.
Growing our business
Let’s talk growing pains for a moment...
We expect to take occupancy of our new home in 4 weeks time. Once we are in we have a list of jobs that need to be cracked on with, including (but not limited to) several steps to make the flooring fit for purpose, installing all of the electrics, fixtures, fittings and moving in the existing as well as setting up the new brew kit.
If anyone has, or knows someone with experience in any of the above and wants to offer a quote, please reach out to us on email@example.com
Once completed we'll need to do a whole load of painting so if you're reading this and would like to volunteer your paint roller skills then there’s free beer in it for you! 😊
Aside from these growing pains, we have made significant improvements with our infrastructure behind the scenes and are working on some important elements for the long term stability of the business. We may be small now, but we are thinking big to future proof as much as we can.
If you shopped with us in January you will have noticed our new and improved website experience - I want to thank Steven (and Sam) for all of their hard work on this, which launched without any issues!! Aesthetically it’s is very similar to the old one, but the functionality is far better and gives us flexibility to try new things and experiment to make your experience as seamless as possible. Just a reminder to sign up to #beechlifeloyalty to ensure you get your loyalty points (click the star symbol at the bottom of any page of the site).
I have also moved from spreadsheets and cleaning schedules to a cloud based brewery management system. Why is this important? It is our preparation to grow bigger and introduce keg lines to our inventory! It also means we will be paying duty on what we sell, not what we produce which is important as we produce more volume!
We are building our equipment wish list at present, but one of the things we are looking to do is carbonate our beer in tank, rather than condition it in package. This means that we will no longer can condition our beers in the future. Don’t panic though, we will be exploring cask for two of our beers: Metamorphosis and South Pointing Fish.
One additional positive is that you will no longer need to open our cans over your sink to allow for the beer to escape! Haha!
We had a few opportunities presented to us last year that we just couldn’t commit to, mainly due to the low production volumes and us being in isolation during Sam's pregnancy. We want to get these off the ground this year, which will be in addition to the events we have advertised currently. We will of course keep you updated through the newsletters and website as to when these events will happen. As a teaser they include some special releases, bottle shop events and one or two collaborations with some of our favourite people.
In March we will be attending SIBA Beer X as delegates.
This is the UK ‘Super Bowl’ of trade exhibitions for the brewing industry, where we get the opportunity to learn from other professionals and look at shiny things we can’t afford. I have never been before and last years offering was online due to Covid, so this will hopefully be a positive experience!
A couple of the talks are on how to reduce your carbon footprint, with one on using UK hops to reduce your carbon footprint, as well as a second in general methods to impact your carbon emissions. As you hopefully know, I am always keen to keep our focus hyper local and I am extremely proud of South Pointing Fish, which is brewed with UK hops Olicana and Jester.
As a small business it’s unattainable at this time to eliminate our carbon footprint, but I am keen to reduce our impact as much as is practically possible and brewing one beer out of nine with UK hops just isn’t enough.
There is also a session on low strength beer, so expect to see a ‘NOLO’ offering from us at some point this year! 😊
If you've followed our journey along the way you'll already be aware of my personal experience with mental health. I wanted to take this opportunity to address something that I imagine many people suffer with, and something that I have particularly struggled with in the last year.
In 1978 - 8 years before I arrived on this planet - Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes created the term “Imposter Syndrome”. They explained it as being:
“The psychological experience of believing that one's accomplishments came about not through genuine ability but as a result of having been lucky, having worked harder than others, or having manipulated other people's impressions, has been labelled the impostor phenomenon.”
If you read that and resonate with it, you aren’t alone. It’s was my 2021 demon of choice.
It’s not something I had ever really struggled with before the brewery; It’s well publicised by us that I have struggled with my MH but imposter syndrome is a new experience for me. I put this down to having never been part of a creative industry before now. Having worked in Corporate roles for the last 15 years with clear job ladders and measures of success, you either do a good job or you don’t. It’s usually a tangible measurement based on KPI’s (key performance indicators).
For the last 12 years I have watched Sam be part of a fiercely competitive and creative sector. Ironically I cursed my KPI culture in envy of what she got to experience on the daily. For those that don’t know, she’s a Hairdresser and an extremely talented one at that.
We often talked about the fact I felt like a cog in the big “well oiled” machine and that while there was nothing wrong with that, it just didn’t feel like me anymore. Maybe that’s why I had never experienced this phenomenon.
So why is owning my own business, specifically in the Brewery game, fuelling this new thought process I seem to have?
With the brewery it should be completely different as it’s my blood, sweat and tears that goes (not literally you'll be glad to know 😆) into producing the beer. Surely that alone should dispel the notion that I am an imposter?
Maybe the listening to podcasts, reading of books, watching of YouTube videos and obsessive tinkering with processes should get rid of the dreaded sensation… I am a student of the game after all! This being said, all that happens is this little voice in my head calls me a ‘Pretender’ or ‘Naïve’ - I’m never going to be as good as this brewer or that brewery, WHO AM I KIDDING?
As I research more into Imposter Syndrome and it’s characteristics on Headspace (https://www.headspace.com/articles/impostor-syndrome), I came across 5 different types. It’s from this I realised that I am ‘The Perfectionist’, explained as:
“The Perfectionist’s primary focus is on “how” something is done — and one minor flaw in an otherwise stellar performance is not enough.”
That’s me to a tee… I am never happy unless I deem things to be perfect. (Although I could also be The Soloist and The Expert, or a combination of all three on any given day. I’m complex! 😊)
It’s from this that I realise that it is my passion to learn and in turn, deliver on that knowledge that fuels my imposter syndrome.
The specifics of my personal doubt centre around thoughts such as -
“How can I call myself a brewer when I didn’t know how to do that?”
“A real brewer wouldn’t make that mistake”
“We need to get bigger to be taken more seriously - they won’t take me seriously when I brew in a shed”
“How naïve was I to think that I could do this”
“Everyone loves the branding, but is the beer good enough for the branding?”
How can something I enjoy so much and work so hard on make me feel so crap at times?
In exploring this subject further, I realise my thoughts are incredibly distorted. They are a mutation of my anxiety that has manifested itself in this way as I expose myself to new territory. My mind is sensing danger because I am putting my hard work on display and I am opening myself up to critique of my own personal passion.
But wait - that’s progress! 3 years ago I could barely leave the house or talk to someone new without having some sort of panic attack. If I can conquer that, then this will be a doddle! Of course it’s not that simple, but I have to take the wins where I find them.
I should say at this point - I value all feedback. Any critique of our beers is not a cause of increased anxiety for me. I’m still learning and I will make mistakes. If you let me know if you don’t like something, it actually helps! (please also let me know if you like something, that helps too!). In turn I vow to learn to accept the compliments and recognition with equal consideration as the critiques. I need to start to argue my case with the mutant that I’m not an imposter and not validate it’s existence with my distorted thought process.
All of this is my cathartic way of saying.. I acknowledge the Imposter Syndrome Mutation but I don’t accept it.
I might be new to this game, but I am a brewer and I work hard on getting better at what I do. We might not be the biggest brewery, but we are an established brewery and we are working hard to be bigger. I own a business, one that I believe I can make very successful. No one can stop me doing that and no one can tell me I’m doing it the wrong way, least of all the mutant!
I love my beers but I will keep on learning and making improvements, because I can. Why should I stop? How do you benefit if I stop? I am always learning so the Perfectionist/Expert/Soloist part of my brain needs to hush!
Recently becoming a parent has most likely had a considerable impact on my thought processes. After all, it’s probably the biggest responsibility in life and it’s a whole lot of learning on the job! It really puts worrying about oxidation and frying my brain learning about hop compounds into context! 😊
I do love that my beer adventure has made me explore this side of me and I am glad to have a way of recording and sharing my thoughts in the ever important conversation of mental health. Trust me when I say, even though it is cathartic, I actually find this incredibly awkward - but if just one person who reads it takes some comfort from it then it is more than worth it.
If anyone is reading this and putting off something life changing, or spending time feeding the mutation, just stop and think for a second! Life is way too short, do it!
Finishing up on a lighter note -
Brewery Birthday Plans
We brewed our first commercial beer on 3rd January 2021, opened our first web shop on 29th January 2021 and made our first deliveries on Friday 5th February 2021. We would have chosen 5th February as our official Birthday however, with our daughter being born on the 7th we aren't sure how she'll feel about sharing her special day with Birdie and the likes in future 😂 Therefore we are going with the date we canned our first ever Copper Beech Beer (as that's when it really was official, right!?) 18th January 2021.
It may seem like we haven’t done anything to celebrate this momentous occasion however, we have plans for some belated celebrations now that we are no longer shielding due to the pregnancy. We hope to announce something in due course and hold an event where we can celebrate the anniversary, mine and John’s birthdays and the birth of our baby girl. We hope many of you will be able to join us!