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Artist's conception of Stroud's new brewery: looking to create a platform to take the business to the next stage
 

Stroud plans £1.2 million brewery, tap room

Stroud Brewery has unveiled details of its new £1.2 million purpose-built brewery and tap room, set to be up and running by the end of November.

The leased canal-side site, on the outskirts of the Gloucestershire town, is just 100 yards from the existing brewery. The firm’s 20-barrel brewhouse, along with five 20-barrel fermenters, will be moved across.

Over time, Stroud will add five 40-barrel fermenters to the set-up, said managing director Greg Pilley, enabling it to expand not only production capacity but its all-organic range of beers and create a nationally-recognised range.

“This is a significant development that will provide us with the platform to take the business to the next stage,” he said. “There is no way we could have imagined this six years ago when we moved here.”

Designed by Nailsworth-based Austin Design Works and built by Clive Petch Architects of Cheltenham the site will also provide storage, offices and event spaces to rent.

Key to the plan is an expanded bar area with views of the newly-regenerated canal. It covers twice the floor area than the existing tap room and is more clearly segregated from the brewery itself, enabling it to operate seven days a week.

“We hadn’t expected how successful the bar would be,” said Pilley. “Although it’s only open Thursday to Saturday it accounts for 10% of our production and 40% of our profit, and there’s a chance to double the numbers now.

“It’s also important as part of our identity, it’s what we do, it’s the face of Stroud Brewery. We’ll be able to use it for community events and meetings and might even have a cinema there.”

A month of down-time, from around mid-October, is planned for the move. Stroud is already building up beer stocks to carry it through.

Although the project suggests fermentation capacity will be tripled, a greater emphasis in future on keg beers, including lager, will tie up the tanks for longer, meaning that in practice it’s likely to only double, explained Pilley.

“We’re hedging our bets somewhat on the styles we’ll produce,” he went on. “Our core market is still for pub-style beers in cask. There is a strong support for local businesses here, we have a growing number of loyal pub customers and we want to maintain that.

“Yet, as an organic brewery since our inception, we’ve developed a nation-wide demand for our beers and are seeing increasing enquiries for export in small pack, so we want to exploit that opportunity, too.

“Our bottled sales are already growing steadily at around 12% a year without much effort on our part, and that can only be because they’re organic - and good beers, of course.”

Stroud has been making use of mobile canning services of late. If volumes continue to grow it will investigate having its own line but the immediate concerns are to improve the cask and kegging facilities.

Pilley added that the new brewery could also feature a one or two-barrel pilot plant for experimentation and reproduce one-off beers.

Alongside the scheme, the business will launch a loan-based crowd-fund on the Dutch Triodos Bank platform from July, looking to raise £250,000 and paying investors 5% tax-free interest for seven years along with enrolling them in a club offering a 10% discount on beer bought from the brewery.

“It’s not a traditional crowd-fund,” said Pilley. “These kind of loans have worked for us in the past. We raised £13,000 to launch 12 years ago and four years later expanded with the help of £100,000 of loans from 40 local people.

“Triodos was founded as a bank for ethical investors and we’re pleased they’re willing to promote Stroud Brewery as such an opportunity,” he continued. “One of the things we’re recognised for is our ethos of sustainability and this will give our customers a chance to invest in sustainable practices such as rainwater capture and solar photovoltaic panels.

“And one of our priorities at the new brewery is to install a heat recovery system to improve our energy efficiency.”

Phil Mellows
8th June 2018

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