Supplier Focus

By Products & Services

The proposed Utopian branding: targeting craft lager given that lager makes up majority of beer market

NEW ENTRANT: Utopian Brewing, Devon

A new all-lager brewery fuelled by cattle waste is set to spring up on a Devon farm by the end of this year.

Utopian Brewing, formed by Steve Cox, founder of the Faucet Inn pub chain, and business consultant Richard Archer, is currently crowdfunding £350,000 for a three-vessel 35-hectolitre brewhouse and enough fermenting capacity to produce an initial 8,000 hectolitres a year.

Nine suppliers have been invited to tender for the equipment.

The brewery will provide its own energy needs thanks to an anaerobic digestion plant fed by waste from the farm’s cattle and it will also have its own water source.

The 10,000 square foot site, which will feature a destination tap room and visitor centre, has space to grow production to “an optimum 16,000 hectolitres,” according to Archer.

Recipes for a range of four different lagers made with British hops and malts have been developed with David and Rob Smith’s Brewing Services consultancy and former Heineken brewer Nick Morton.

They are British Lager, a 4.5% abv Helles style; Toasted Lager, using roasted malt and rye; Ruby Red Lager, using crystal malt and named after the breed of cattle on the farm; and a 5% abv British Pilsner.

Creative agency Kingdom & Sparrow has designed branding for bottle, can and keg font, but most of the early volume is likely to be on draught for the on-trade, targeting small and medium-sized operators alongside Faucet’s 16-strong estate as the quickest way of gaining nation-wide recognition for Utopian.

“Steve and I have watched the market for some time and seen the consumer’s increasing desire for independent products with provenance,” said Archer, who is managing director of the venture alongside chairman Cox.

“Almost every brewer that has gone for that, though, is doing IPAs, and it’s become a congested market. The flavours have become more and more out-there, and it’s become difficult for pub and bar operators to choose between them.

“We know from our own experience at Faucet that while lager is only a tiny fraction of craft beer production it is out-selling ale in the pubs by three-to-one, so that’s what we’re focusing on.”

The original plan was to brew in London, but high costs in the capital drove them to the Devon countryside and the leased farm buildings just off the A377 Exeter to Barnstaple road.

“We are keen on sustainability and brewing is energy intensive, and here we have chance to generate our own thanks to access to anaerobic digestion.”

Utopian’s sustainability story has resonated in the crowdfunding arena. With just two days left before closing it has attracted just over £430,000, surpassing its £350,000 target. As of today (5th August) there are 188 investors with the largest single investment totalling £65,000.

At the beginning of August Utopian announced that it has an agreement in place with London’s Hop Stuff Brewery to have its beers contract brewed in the run-up to its new brewery undertaking production.

Phil Mellows
6th August 2018

Facebook Twitter Google LinkedIn Email