Launching your own brewery can be a mightily expensive business, and to scrape together the cash there are a few different paths that prospective beermakers can opt for. One option that looks to be increasingly more prevalent is crowd-funding; members of the public chip in varying amounts, and if the target is reached, the project gets the cash. One such producer looking to spring to life through this method is set to be in Scotland – the prospective Forth Bridge Brewery. The brainchild of Dave Robertson, Forth Bridge aim to begin production later this year in the Fife coastal town of Inverkeithing – providing they secure the necessary finance.
It’s an interesting conundrum – Dave is looking for an investment of £200,000 to begin operations, and it could seem to be a hard-sell to get people to invest in something that doesn’t actually exist yet (and by that, I mean any project that is crowd-sourced, rather than Forth Bridge’s beers specifically). But, like most crowd-funded ideas, he’s offering a series of incentives to interest potential donors; each pledger (pledgee?) will get ‘beer for life’ – each new Forth Bridge release will be sent to them, as and when they are brewed (alternative non-alcoholic rewards are also being developed).
“With any investment there is always added risk,” Dave told me, “however our crowd-funding starts at a smaller amount than most, from £50 all the way up to £10k, so there is a package to suit everyone. Our rewards are lifetime based, so they continue throughout the lifetime of the brewery. For example, that means the investor gets beers for life and a discount for life from our online store. Hopefully we will raise more than £200k in less than a month – there’s got to be more than 4000 people out there who would spend £50 on helping a brewery get up and running and get beer for life in return!”
Another notable aspect of the project is the environmental angle to the plans. The brewery will be powered by a biomass burner, converting pelleted spent grain into heating for brewdays. Benefiting from Government renewable heating initiatives, he’ll be paid for every KWh produced – and could even sell excess energy to local homes or industry. Sustainability looks to be a central pillar of Dave’s brewing ethos – other ideas include electricity generated from a micro hydro plant on a nearby stream, returnable deposits on glass bottles, and locally-sourced barley.
But, what of the beers? To date, Forth Bridge are hardly putting their eggs in a single basket – Dave told me he is developing a range of fifteen (although I don’t know over what release period these would come out). One area that he is looking to concentrate on, though, is fruit beer, or fruit/IPA hybrids. Unlike many of the other recent arrivals on the brewing scene, it looks as if Forth Bridge are looking at the lower-abv end of the market – “We might make stronger IPA’s,” he says, “but the emphasis is to create great tasting drinks that will be enjoyed with friends.”
Traditional lines will also be a part of the Forth Bridge makeup, though – ales, lagers and porters are all set to feature. This must be the fascinating part of starting your own brewery – planning the various releases, and thinking about what section of the market you’re going to aim for. Dave seems extremely focused, and has thought of pretty much every eventuality (including backup plans, in case the funding limit is not reached). As such, it seems like the Forth Bridge Brewery are starting with the right idea, and a clear plan. All they need now, is a crowd…