WHEN I was young, my poor mum and dad used to despair when Christmas rolled around.
They always knew I’d ask for an impossible present. While my brother would ask for a book or video game – something readily available in most good retail outlets – I would always plead for something that strained the bounds of reality, let alone possibility.
One year I asked for an eagle. While I tried to rationalise how it was a perfectly acceptable present for an eight-year-old and explained that I’d look after it, my parents stood bewildered, wondering how on earth to talk me out of it. I think they eventually persuaded me by describing the problems of wrapping an eagle and leaving it under the Christmas tree for a week.
Any way, my bird of prey obsession lasted for about a month before my head was turned by some other utterly unfeasible plan. Luckily for them, I lack the focus to put most of my thoughts into action. I’m lazy, preferring a lie-in to an active life. There have been all sorts of dreams over the years, from business ideas to smallholding plans, concepts for blockbusting film scripts to incredible globe-trotting journeys through uncharted lands. All of them have not only failed to take off, but didn’t even make it on to the runway.
So when Drew Cossey announced his grand ideas for transforming Coppers 8til8 into a craft beer hub, I wondered if I was chatting to a fellow dreamer.
Anyone who’s been up to Coppers, on Princes Road in north Gosforth, Newcastle, will know Drew and his brother Aaron have got a decent selection of craft ales, but in limited space.
Looking back through the column I wrote back in January, Drew resolved to change that. Not only would he expand the range, but he wanted to put on low-cost kegs as well as create a visitor destination brewery, and a viewing gallery with tasting room.
It was a big dream by anyone’s standards, but Drew has actually managed to pull it off, partly spurred on, he says, by family saying that he never implemented his constant stream of ideas.
Pulling in every favour he could think of, Drew and his friends have expanded into the stock room, attractive wooden shelves bowing under more and more British and continental beers as new stock arrives. The new layout means the changing range will expand to about five or six hundred beers plus kegs to fill your own containers, with focuses on local ales, the best of London and unusual beers from Belgium ... a physical manifestation of the brothers’ love of beer.
The brewery’s coming too, by the end of the year, to sit next to the shipping container that now houses the stock room; a 100-litre testing kit people can book time on to test their own recipes, with the best getting a day in a full brewery. The viewing gallery and tasting room might take a while longer but Drew hasn’t given up on it. He enthusiastically describes how it will look, drawing a vivid and compelling mental image.
“It’s a sun-trap up there,” he says. “I’ve fallen asleep myself up there with a beer. I’ll see what the new year brings.
“I’ve wanted to expand because I’ve been frustrated by space, wanting this beer and that beer. This is us trying to do it properly and hopefully people will enjoy it. The best thing about staying with this idea is that I enjoy it.”
Tomorrow, he is holding an open day where customers can pop along, see what he’s achieved, try some of the beers and have a slice of stone- baked pizza.
“Whenever I want beer, all I have to do is dream,” sang the Everly Brothers (sort of).
Thanks, Drew and Aaron ... you’ve turned it into reality.