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My name is Alan Greenwood and in November 1974 the British brewing industry was undergoing enormous changes. It was then that I started a business called Alan Greenwood’s Beer Agency and this became a major contribution to the modern Real Ale Revival.
At the time six brewers: Charrington’s, Allied Breweries, Watney's, Courage, S&N and Whitbread’s were snapping up all the smaller breweries in a competitive frenzy. ‘Big is Beautiful’ was both the business and political message of the day.
The result may have been a vibrant industry, but it was losing so much of its tradition and history. I was fascinated and wanted to be part of it before it all died.

The problem was how, the brewing trade then was a closed shop. I then discovered that there was such a thing as a 5 Barrel pilot brewing plant. I thought, if I could get one of those it would be a practical and first step towards having my own brewery, but where would I sell my beers? Nearly all the pubs then were already tied to the brewers.
Drawing on my brewer’s history I thought, initially I could operate as an old style ‘family brewers’. A family brewer was one with no pubs, who instead supplied beers to families for family use. (Like the bygone Clifton’s Brewery of Red Hill) So I opened an off-license which I called by the dual name of Butter Hill Brewery (in readiness for brewing) and Alan Greenwood’s Beer Agency (for selling the beer).

To start off and test the demand I first offered beers from the few remaining Real Ale brewers’ selling it in jugs, bottles and family size barrels. This proved to be so successful that within a short time I was not just selling a few jugs and casks of beers from my little off-license but I now had 13 shops and was selling thousands and thousands of pints, including distribution of the Real Ale by the lorry load to pubs, clubs and other resellers.

In these 15 years in the beer industry I got to know many interesting facts and fictions of the world of the old brewer and in my talks I would like to share some of these fascinating stories with you.