Published on April 6, 2016 | by Alastair Gilmour0
INVEST IN A BREWERY
That’s the message from one of the region’s most progressive beer producers. Invest, enjoy, and get the t-shirt, writes Alastair Gilmour
What do craft beer highfliers BrewDog, Camden, Hop Stuff and the Bison’s Arms in Brighton have in common? Quite apart from the undoubted quality that pours out of their conditioning tanks and into the pub cellar, they have raised money for different purposes – in BrewDog’s case, a quite spectacular £10m-plus – through crowdfunding initiatives.
Now it’s the turn of Tyne Bank to get involved and let its supporters demonstrate their passion for the Newcastle brewery by being part of the business. And, Cheers North East is delighted to be able to publicise the announcement of Tyne Bank’s own crowdfunding drive to help exciting expansion plans come to fruition.
Tyne Bank owner Julia Austin made the decision late last year to relocate the business. The current site at Hawick Crescent Industrial Estate in Byker had simply become too cramped for brewing its expanding portfolio of beers, both in physical size and in scope for future development. But where to… how… why… what if?
The crowdfunding idea appealed. Crowdfunding (self-explanatory when you think about it) is an opportunity for a community of likeminded people to pool their money and knowledge to back startup, early days and growth stage businesses. The Crowdcube initiative chosen by Tyne Bank – authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority – gives investors the opportunity to become “armchair Dragons”.
Julia Austin says: “We wanted the crowdfunding aspect to be all about our supporters; we want them to be part of our DNA. They can invest any amount from £25 and will get a share in the brewery and more tangible benefits, depending on their level of investment.
“There will be a package of benefits sent out, and everybody will get a t-shirt that says ‘I own a brewery. How cool is that?’ We’re looking at a total of £150,000 to £250,000 which will allow us to really develop. Just think, a thousand people investing £150 each would be brilliant – plus we’ll have a thousand ambassadors. They’ll own part of Tyne Bank and hopefully enjoy the ride.”
Quite by chance, Julia had heard about a neighbouring building being refurbished for dividing into units for rent. Owners Lowrie Foods were keen for fellow food processing companies to take an interest in the units. Food and beer share similar production values, so the Tyne Bank “what if” became “when”.
“The whole beer market has changed so much since we took over the former Hadrian Border Brewery premises five years ago,” says Julia. “The new premises is about 80% bigger than our present place and we’ll have the brewhouse, loading bay, offices, bar, packaging department – including canning – and an events space for regular open days, music and food vendors.
“We’ve got a conservative estimate of creating 14 jobs in three years. That’s an attractive prospect for the Go For Growth grant we have also applied for and a bit different from the five staff – including me – we have at the moment. Getting the right people will be the next challenge, particularly on the events side.
“The big plan is we make the beer and visitors can watch how it’s made, drink it, and enjoy the whole experience. We’re getting new fermenting vessels and refurbishing the mash tun and kettle we already have. We’ll move in June and be producing beer straight away with everything else up and running by October or November.
“We’ve been able to do all this through growing beer sales and looking at exporting and I’ve got to praise the help we’ve got from Pat Green in that direction. He has worked with Black Sheep, Harviestoun and Cameron’s breweries and opened a lot of doors for us.”
The Tyne Bank crew are particularly pleased with the new premises’ position in local folklore. Roughly where the car park is now was the first home of Newcastle East End FC which amalgamated with Newcastle West End FC in 1892 to form Newcastle United.
A crest on the front of the building displays a royal “by appointment”, so the brewery already has a lot to live up to. But it’s a challenge that head brewer Adam Brewer can take in his stride.
The man with the perfect beer name says: “I’m really looking forward to having a new brewery. We thought it was important to keep it at the same size as at present – 20 barrels – which gives us a lot of flexibility. We can modify the copper to take five barrels for the real specialist beers – and canning the beer should be fun.”
Be there, do that, get the t-shirt.
HOW TO INVEST
Established in 2011, the Crowdcube crowdfunding platform is an alternative method of financing a business which allows everyday investors, professionals and venture capitalists to invest as little or as much as they like, typically through an online platform.
Joining Crowdcube is free, takes less than 60 seconds, and carries no obligation to invest. You are required to take a short quiz to make sure you understand the risks of investing. Once you’ve joined, you’ll be able to view all the details for businesses seeking investment on the platform, including pitch videos, discussion boards and key documentation.