I started Pilgrim simply out of the frustration at not being able to buy a decent pint. It was probably the arrogance of youth that lead me to believe I could produce a better beer than companies which had been around for decades if not centuries. When I first mooted the idea of a brewery people just said "but you can't do that!" We first appeared in the 1982 Good Beer Guide where there were only about 30 breweries in total, most of which are no longer with us, were listed: how times have changed when you consider we now have over 1000!
In the 1950's my Grandfather had been a licensee and my earliest memories were of cellars lined with rows of foaming cask ales. In those far off days he even instilled into me the importance of cellar temperatures! I pulled my first pint aged five..1957!.. standing on a beer crate in the Talbot Hotel in Newport, South Wales. Years later with these romantic memories still in my heart I came of drinking age and set out to search for "legally" bought beer.
But where was the beer I remembered from my youth?
The answer was all but gone as a revolution had happened whilst I was busy trying to get an education...some called it the "Red Revolution" and it was soon to be seen as unpleasant as the revolution in the USSR. Natural draught beer had been replaced by industrially produced beer pasteurised to death and high pressure CO2 gas was artificially blown into it in an attempt to revive it....well being dead that was simply not possible!
It was still possible to find the kind of beers I remembered but they were few and far between and usually produced by small brewers far from metropolitan areas. What joy it brought to my heart when in some far off bit of countryside I'd ride over the brow of a hill and see a sign saying, for instance, "You are now entering Palmers country" or somesuch ad. In that case I'd be speeding towards a pint of "Boys Bitter" in the George in Bridport.....happy days but they were becoming all too few and Surrey's last brewery had closed before I was born!
So...what to do? Easy, I thought, start my own!
And that is when all the trouble started!
Yet, extraordinarily my brewery has outlived the Government Departments i worked in and the Ministerial posts I worked to as a young Civil servant!