Why have you launched a crowdfunding campaign?:
We are building a new brewery. We’ve outgrown our current facilities and are hoping to build a new home for it. We’re happy with the product range we have, so it’s mainly about building a new bigger facility where we can employ more people and deliver growing requests for capacity in London and the rest of England.
Crowdfunding seems to be a popular choice to raise funds for more and more businesses, why did you go down this route?:
We are looking for a crowd to get engaged in our brand. We’ve got a lot of people who drink our beers week-on-week – we sell 150,000-odd pints a week at the moment – so we wanted to try and grab hold of those people and make them part of our company. We’re well-liked and being well-received and so this was a way of us letting our customers become part of us and be part of the ride that we’re going on. This way we get them in at an early stage so they can be part of the journey, but it also gives them a return on their investment so we can pay them back for their belief in us.
What do you think about the current beer market in the UK?:
It’s a great time for beer in the UK and long may it continue. It was only a matter of time before things got better - pubs, coffee and wine and food got better so it wasn't long before we looked at beer. The whole category is really energised and it’s also seeing traction because its everyday. I think it is benefiting from fresh energy from people like ourselves and other brewers here and abroad. It was a very tired offer coming out for a while and it just needed people like us to reincarnate it. We’re not doing anything different, we have just brought new energy to it.
Camden Brewery also runs two pubs, tell us about them:
The Horseshoe (in Hampstead) recently re-opened and we’re doing lots of things with that. We have a pop-up kitchen which is running at the moment, but at the beginning of May we’ll be back to running it ourselves and doing our own British fayre. We didn’t have a strong enough kitchen team when we re-opened in December which is why we went with the pop-up but now we're more established we're looking for a full team.
Beer is obviously really important for us there, but we don't just sell our own. We have 18 taps, nine of them are guest beers. There are lots of alternatives.
We're in the process of refurbishing O'Reilly's (in Kentish Town) and hopefully we'll be able to relaunch that with the same kind of success.
What criteria do you use when looking for pubs?:
It’s always about great locations for us. We find pubs in locations we love and reincarnate them, that's what we do. We always try to keep close to what it is and not move too far from it, because we love pubs - we drink in them everyday! What we want to do is create a great place where people want to hang out, drink beer and tell stories.
For us it’s about finding awesome places. That’s why we haven’t got a huge amount, because the awesome places are hard to get hold of. We’ve currently got two fantastic sites that we believe in and that's good enough for us at the moment. The first one (The Horseshoe) is successful and hopefully the next one (O'Reilly's) when it opens, will be the same.
Do you think more pub owners should brew their own beer?
Yes, although making beer is very easy, making great beer is very difficult. If you’ve got some time to spend and money to invest in the right equipment I’d recommend it to anybody and happily advise them. I started off brewing in the cellar at The Horseshoe and then grew the business to 65 of us. I love doing it and the story behind it. If I can ignite someone’s passion by telling them about it that’s great, so I’d say yes, if you’re interested, start off brewing from your cellar and see how you go. How many things can you make and develop and put it in front of people and they can buy it? Grain to glass is a really satisfying process.