Tours tastings and talks, not just your Grandad’s beer.
Last year Cheryl Cade gave up her day job to embark on a business built around her true passion – beer! Now she and her husband Mark run The Thirst Consultants, a company committed to celebrating beer and elevating its reputation. Here Cheryl tells us about turning her hobby into a living, and how networking is key to making her business a success!
Tell us about your business, Cheryl
I’m a beer sommelier at the Thirst Consultants. We do tours in Belgium, tastings and talks, normally about beer, but we also branch into other beverages, including non-alcoholic drinks too. My expertise is in beer and food matching – I like to take beer to a higher level and put it on the same standing as a good glass of wine. It is a unique and very innovative experience, especially in Norfolk.
We also like to bring in the history of the beverage. Beer and food combinations worked well centuries ago, and we’re bringing that back. In continental Europe and America, there’s a big trend at looking into the history of these drinks. Given the amount of brewers and enthusiasm for beer in Norfolk, the country should be doing better in this area than we are.
So the events you run must be a lot of fun, as well as educational?
The atmosphere I want is very relaxed because I like everyone to feel comfortable in saying what they want to say about the beer they are tasting. If I am meeting a new client who is not 100% sure about what we do, I’ll take a beer with me or arrange to meet them somewhere to have a beer together so I can give them examples of how I work. It is a very nice way to work!
When did you first hear about Thrive?
When I first decided to go into business, I took a course at NWES, and they recommended that I do some networking in Norwich. My business takes some explaining so I needed to go to meetings where I could share what we do. Thrive was on the list of networking groups that they suggested. I went along to a meeting, was made to feel very welcome and I went on to use a couple of the connections I made there myself. I was very impressed by the standard of their work and felt like I’d found a group that was a good fit for me.
What’s your favourite thing about Thrive?
I love the relaxed atmosphere and the fact that Lorna and Ollie are really behind you and your business. They give you lots of inspiration and encouragement, which is so important when you are starting a business. They also never make you feel as though you owe them anything, they are genuine people and always thinking of ways to help you. Everyone in the group looks for ways to support each other.
Have you been able to help a fellow member?
I was able to help a lot of Thrive members out with Christmas presents this year! I did a discounted presentation box set of beers from around the world, and they went down extremely well on Christmas Day, I hear! I’ve made great connections at both the Norwich Cathedral and the Narthex through Thrive, so it was great to be able to return the favour in beer!
What would you be doing if you weren’t in the business you are in?
I’d probably still be teaching, specifically sign language teaching. I’ve taught in schools and the prison service in the past and using those skills has been very rewarding. Everything I do is about communication, wherever I’ve worked. I love sharing stories and getting other people to speak out about their experience. My aim is that through everything I do, the people who are with me learn at least one new thing.
Have you got any funny stories from your beer tours in Belgium?
Let’s just say there is a bar in Leuven, Belgium where you can do vertical archery, and it proved to be a big hit on our tour last year. You lay on your back and fire an arrow up 60 meters into the air. Hilarity definitely ensued!
Kate White – Front Page Media
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