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Fourpure founders Dan and Tom Lowe: determined to stay and grow in London

Fourpure Brewing to grow four-fold

Fourpure Brewing has embarked on a £2 million expansion plan at its home in South London.

The company has taken over a fifth warehouse on the Bermondsey Trading Estate allowing it to increase its production capacity four-fold to 50,000 barrels.

This summer’s investment includes a four-vessel Craft-Star brewhouse from GEA, the first such installation in the UK, plus an upgraded centrifuge, a carbonation module, indoor/outdoor chillers, malt and spent grain silos and a dozen 200-hectolitre fermentation tanks.

The new equipment is expected to be producing beer by September. Barrel-aged beers and a series of small-batch lagers are promised by the end of the year.

Fourpure was founded in 2013 by brothers Dan and Tom Lowe. It soon made its mark by becoming the first British craft brewer to embrace canning for its entire range.

Last year it spent £1.4 million on a new packaging line and introduced a beer sensory training programme that helped win it the title of Best Brewery Business at the 2017 SIBA Business Awards.

The decision to expand on its existing site secures its future in the capital, as Dan Lowe explained.

“When demand for our products was outstripped by supply it would have been easy to find large, cheaper premises outside London. But London is our heartland and integral to our brand, so we are determined to grow in the city we love, rather than move out. This latest investment will allow us to quadruple our production and stay true to our brand heritage.”

Fourpure will be able to increase its output to seven brews a day thanks to the GEA kit, chosen in part because of the German firm’s promise of a summer delivery, Lowe said, who described the system as “a pure wonder.”

He continued, “GEA has a reputation for engineering some of the most technologically advanced brewing equipment in the market, though have traditionally had an entry point well out of the reach of most craft brewers.

“The new Craft-Star system brings that technology to smaller 40-hectolitre brewhouses and can be connected and brewing within two weeks of delivery. When you’re expanding on an existing site this offers obvious and considerable advantages.”

The Craft-Star system to be installed at Fourpure is an off-the-shelf system designed for batch sizes of 40 hectolitres of hot wort. According to GEA, It is being supplied pre-piped, per-wired and ready to install.

The base frame of Craft-Star holds all related pumps, valves and components as well as the power cabinets. The frame also functions as an operator platform, including stairs and railings.

And as well as increasing Fourpure’s production capabilities, the Craft-Star brewing system will also reduce the environmental impact of brewing, Lowe added, saving water and energy through heat recovery and vapour condensing.

It will be supported by a new Buhler mill, silos and malt handling system with the new fermenters arriving in August from MGT. The centrifuge is being upgraded to a GEA Westfalia GSC 40 that operates at five times the speed of Fourpure’s existing unit. And an automated trim carbonation module from Denwel will allow tighter quality control.

The expansion of the site to 25,000 square feet will allow for expansion of the brewery’s existing hospitality space, providing a new, modern taproom where customers can sample an ever-changing range of beers from 16 taps on the bar.

Success due to many factors

Lowe attributed the company’s success down to a variety of factors – investment in people, the decision to can, the liberal use of New World hops – “and we like to think we brew good beers.”

“Since we launched we’ve been focused on innovation and a desire to help drive the craft beer movement here in the UK. We’ve approached brewing with a more holistic mind set, focusing on grain to glass.

“And we’ve made sure we put the right people in the right roles. There’s a permanent focus on morale and making sure people enjoy coming to work. This means we get the best from our team and our customers get the best from us.”

Commenting on The Brewery Manual’s research that suggests brewery numbers have peaked, he described the current UK beer market as a tough place to operate.

“The industry is relentlessly cash intensive and the faster you grow the bigger the pains. This is going to self-limit both new entrants and the capability of many to grow.

“The aggressive ramp on beer duty from 5,000 hectolitres a year, too, impacts growth and leads to more aggressive competition between craft brewers

“It’s not enough just to make good beer – being well capitalised and having the ability to execute it are pieces of the puzzle, too. The big guys are better than us at almost everything, but they can’t move at the speed of craft – that’s our advantage.

Phil Mellows
23rd June 2017

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