If there is one major regret that I have in my life, it is not acting on an idea I stumbled upon in the spring of 1974. I had recently obtained a copy of Frank Baillie's excellent and pioneering book, "The Beer Drinker's Companion".
Reading the section on home-brew pubs, of which there were just four left at the time, I noted with interest the closing paragraph which stated:
"It would be easy to imagine the success of a new home-brewed house in another part of the country - especially in this era of standardisation. If there is any property developer with vision, looking for a sound investment, reading this, he could do worse than give it some thought - the equipment can still be obtained."
This seemed an excellent idea to me, even though I was only 19 years old at the time. Unfortunately I had little idea about how to go about raising the necessary money, or obtaining the training, in order to get such a project of the ground. Also at that time, I was committed to completing my degree course; heaven only knows why when I look back now!
That same year, the Miners Arms at Priddy in Somerset became the first pub to start brewing its own beer for several generations. It was soon joined by the Masons Arms, at South Leigh, in Oxfordshire. However, it was not until David Bruce and his Firkin chain of pubs came along that the idea really caught the public's imagination. Starting with the Goose and Firkin, and followed shortly after by the Fox and Firkin, the concept of pubs that brewed their own beer made David Bruce a very rich man, and deservedly so.
I must admit the concept of busy city centre pubs, brewing their own ale was somewhat removed from the idyllic rural home-brew house that I had in mind. Nevertheless having spotted the potential for a home-brew pub and then seeing others make a spectacular success of it, still rankles. I very much regret now that I did not pursue things further back in 1974, but I have only myself to blame.
They say that life teaches us lessons as we go through it, and it certainly taught me one there. Since then I have always tried to ensure that I will never allow such an opportunity to slip through my fingers again. After all I have heard it said that “an old man never regrets the things he tried and failed - just those things he never tried.”