Beer Uncle, as many of you have found out by now, is really my uncle. His real name is Goh Koon Hong, and he’s my late father’s younger brother. He’s the only uncle on my father’s side I’ve ever known - the rest of my father’s siblings having died during World War II.
I’m always very heartened by the comments I hear about him - many of our patrons have nothing but praise for him. Thank you for that. So I thought I’d take a little time here to share more about Beer Uncle.
When I first started on the idea of The Good Beer Company, Beer Uncle and I weren’t too close. My grandma - his mother - had passed away some time back so we had less reason to see each other. But the bigger reason - which we didn’t know at that time - was that Beer Uncle had become pretty much a lonely hermit, as he was embarrassed about his vocation. He had become an estate cleaner, working for one of the town councils. He was originally working as an admin staff for them, but got transferred to doing maintenance and cleaning some time later.
Yup. A 63-year old man, pretty much forced into a filthy job alongside our younger, more illustrious foreign labor. I suspect it was done to help balance out the local/foreign worker quota restrictions, but I don’t have proof.
As you can imagine, he didn’t quite enjoy his line of work. So despite his reservations, he hopped onto the idea of working with me as a hawker assistant selling beer in Chinatown. If nothing else, he can get away from the filth and sometimes dangerous work.
Five months down the road, Beer Uncle, as he is now affectionately known, is promoting and recommending beer to curious patrons. He jokes and banters with customers, and many even call him the unofficial mascot of The Good Beer Company.
He’s really more than that. This may surprise you, but most don’t know that Beer Uncle is also a shareholder of the business. This means he does have input into how we conduct the business, what beers we pick, and in which direction the business grows.
We’ve had potential distributors come in to discuss business who don’t acknowledge Beer Uncle’s existence even if he stood in their face, because they think he’s merely some elderly hired help. These people, we choose not to work with - and I don’t care how good their beers are. I bet they’d be surprised if they knew the reason why we snub them.
On the other hand, we’ve had awesome business partners who treat him like the precious elderly gentleman that he is. And it’s not even because they know he is family… that’s just the way they are, and that’s how they treat people. It just shows their character. And these people, we work with.
Beer Uncle is family, business mascot… and more.