Ten years ago I had a life changing experience. I walked into one of my locals and it had changed ownership.
I quite liked the Swan & Rushes on Infirmary Square, Leicester but with new owners it had improved beyond expectation.
I knew it had changed immediately; new carpets, new upholstery and new beer.
A very smart bearded chap stood behind the bar with his hands behind his back and welcomed us. He was the manager Sammy Saunders and along with the new landlord Grant Cook was responsible for indroducing myself and other Leicester drinkers to the delights of a load of new quality ales and a load of bottled Belgian stuff.
I had Oakham Ales JHB for the first time that night.
It was the first place I drank Cantillon.
It was the first place I drank cask Thornbridge Jaipur and St. Petersburg.
It was the first place I drank Goose Island IPA.
It was the first place I drank Orval.
The first place I drank sour red beers, cave-aged beers, smoked beers...
OK there was already a couple of places in Leicester like The Vaults that did micro cask ales and Cafe Bruxelles that did bottled and kegged Belgian beer, but the Swan was adding a lot more.
Sammy Saunders went on to run a pub in Devon then work for Oakham Ales. Who knows where he is now. I'd like to think he's still selling excellent beer to folk.
Grant just celebrated 10 years at the Swan with a festival including beers from Oakham, Quercus, Pitstop, Saltaire, Dark Star, Potbelly and Blue Monkey.
N.B. I didn't like smoked beers the first time I tried them and I still don't.