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I know you’ll all want to jump ahead to the details about crowdfunding, but it wouldn’t seem right to start talking about the future without giving a quick nod to what’s been an unbelievable first two years for Brew York. To say we’re a little dumbstruck looking back over all the fun that’s been had as well as all that’s been achieved, would be a massive understatement!
And for the impatient amongst you – www.crowdfunder.co.uk/brewyork
Rather than an in-depth blow by blow account of the last couple of years, I thought it’d be more interesting to just give you a few of my personal highlights.
We’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing names in the brewing world in our first two years, but the highlight for me would have to be brewing a collab with Magic Rock. When my interest in craft beer really started to pick up quite a few years back, Magic Rock was the go to name. Cannonball is still one of the best beers in the world for me. So perfectly balanced yet juicy. Getting to brew with Magic Rock was something I never in a million years imagined would happen. It’s like getting to own one of those cars you had pinned on your bedroom wall as a child (Ferrari Testarossa or Lamborghini Countach for me!). Thankfully the beer turned out ok. If you haven’t tried it you can catch it at our Big 2nd Birthday Bash. Look out for ‘Vulgar Display of Sour’, an 8% Sour IPA made with Cryohops.
We’ve won many awards, but for me our best achievement is still the very first beer award we won. Taking ‘Beer of the Festival’ for Tonkoko at our home beer festival on our debut appearance was something truly special for me. Tonkoko and the others that have joined it in the series have built quite a following and it’s arguably the thing we’re now best known for.
For me, I would say the challenge of packing flavour into a beer, whilst ensuring it stays commercially viable. This is a particular frustration with cask beer. Now I love cask beer as much as the next man and nothing would give me more pleasure than being able to pack in as much raw ingredient, whether than be hops, vanilla or fruit into a cask beer as I can with kegged beer, but I simply can’t.
Regrettably, there’s this misguided belief in the UK that the price of a cask beer should be governed by its strength. I can’t think of any other product in the food and drink industry where the cost of ingredients would not be reflected in the price paid.
We’ve already seen many other breweries in the UK move to producing keg/canned beer only as they can command a price for it that is reflective of their costs. It’s no coincidence that these breweries generally rate higher on the beer rating social media platforms Untapped and Ratebeer. They can spend more on making a better product and being keg only gives them better end to end quality control as there is a real skill to serving and keeping a quality cask pint.
Don’t worry, we’re not in any danger of moving away from producing cask beer, but I do wonder what will become of cask beer if the price of it doesn’t start to show a more realistic correlation with the cost of production. I’m not siding with either cask or keg. Each has its place, but I do fear that if we carry on down this road cask will just become the cheap option, with keg being where the real quality is, which would (to me at least) be a loss of British values. Sorry that turned into a bit of a rant, but it’s something I feel very passionately about.
I’m going to cheat and go for two. There’s nothing I love more than the nice bold coconut/chocolate hit of Imperial Tonkoko (7.5% Milk Stout) followed by the palate cleansing effect of the tart, but delicious Goose Willis (5.3% Gooseberry Sour), which means my palate is ready to go again with another Imperial Tonkoko!
Favourite part of what Brew York has become?
Definitely the people. This means many things. Firstly though it’s the team we have created. We have some great people working with us, who are talented, ultra-committed and believe every bit as much as we do in what we’re trying to achieve with Brew York. Without those guys, Brew York would be nothing so we owe them huge thanks. Similarly, I love the people that visit us at the Taproom. We attract such a diverse crowd that makes for such a great atmosphere for anyone who visits. I love seeing people come in with their families and their four legged friends. To me that means we’ve succeeded in achieving what we set out to do!
So anyway on to the bit you all want the details on. Why are we crowdfunding and how will it work…
The decision to crowdfund wasn’t one we took lightly. It has however rapidly become apparent that reinvesting the profits of the business can no longer support the rate at which the brewery is growing. On top of that the opportunity arose to take on an amazing space with huge potential next to our existing brewery and taproom. We couldn’t let the opportunity pass to expand what we believe Brew York can be as an experience, but we didn’t want this to hinder the growth of the brewery. We therefore were left with the choice to approach the banks and take on some debt (something we’ve successfully avoided doing so far) or finding an alternative means to raise the funds to build the Street Food Kitchen whilst still growing the brewery. Crowdfunding is something we’ve mulled over a few times, but we’ve previously decided against it. We don’t want this to be seen as a criticism of others in their approach to crowdfunding (people can only do what’s right for their own business), but if it was going to work for us an option we knew it needed to offer something more than just perks, merch and discounts.
Double Your Money
We think we’ve come up with a good approach, which will allow us to realise our ambitions whilst offering genuine value and allowing those that have supported us to date to benefit from us growing. There are various experiential offerings which we will come to shortly, but the key offering is that for each pound you pledge (from £50 upwards) we will give you back twice that value in vouchers to be spent in either of the Brew York bars* (existing Tap Room and the new Street Food Kitchen bar). To us crowdfunding is therefore more of a short-term loan. We get the funding now to make the place even more amazing for you to enjoy and you get your money back shortly after including a hefty bonus to spend in the bars. Now obviously we don’t want everyone cashing in that loan in week one so there will be staggered release of the vouchers to you over a year in four instalments. An example probably shows this best…
Double Your Money example
Investment amount: £250
Payable on closure of crowdfunding – assuming target reached
Double Your Money value owed: £500
Payable as vouchers in instalments as below:
To us it’s a complete no brainer. If you plan to drink with us in the future, you can basically pay up front, help us make the place even more amazing and effectively drink for half price!
And if that’s not enough at each Double Your Money level (ranging from a pledge of £50 up to £1,000) there’s an added bonus. As examples; £250 includes a Brew York hoodie, whereas £1,000 includes a lifetime 10% discount card (yes, you’ve read that right, it’s a lifetime discount)!
* Vouchers redeemable at bars only (Street Food Kitchen will be run on a concession basis)
** All vouchers will remain valid for two years after issue date, so you’ll have plenty of drinking up time!
In addition to the Double Your Money offering you might also be interested in the suite of reward packages we’ve come up with that are designed to offer something a little bit different. You can learn to brew with us on the new pilot kit, take part in a full brew day or even design, brew and brand your own beer! You can even book our mobile bar to come to your venue, or take part in beer tasting, hoptail making (that’s beer + cocktails = hoptails) and street food cooking classes. There are some truly awesome experiences available. So why not treat yourself or that lucky brew lover in your life and help contribute to making Brew York even bigger and better. Rewards range from £100 to £3,000 so there really is something for everyone.
So what will we do with the money?
First and foremost we want to grow the Brew York Taproom experience and our initial £40k target allows us to complete the installation of the commercial kitchen, bar, and fixtures and fittings that will comprise the Brew York Street Food Kitchen within the building next to the existing Taproom.
We know how popular our events have become and due to escalating production it’s given us a sense of frustration to not be able to do them more often. Similarly, we know some of the best days down at Brew York have been when our beer can be accompanied by some high quality, local, independent, freshly prepared street food. With the creation of the Street Food Kitchen we aim to bring you much more of that with a permanent on site street food kitchen that will occasionally be complimented by other street food vendors at our more regular events. We’re delighted to be having Mark Hill (Street Cleaver) join us as our resident street food vendor. Mark will be trading as the ‘Born to Lose Burger Kitchen’, offering up New York style patties and tantalising small plates. Mark will also host regular feature evenings with a specially curated menu. Eating definitely won’t be cheating in the Street Food Kitchen!
As you should hopefully get a sense of from the 3D impression below, the new Street Food Kitchen will make the most of its industrial setting and have a bit of an open plan beer/food hall feel. The bar itself will have York’s largest range of draft beers, with 40 taps offering the best of what the UK and International craft beer scenes have to offer, alongside the ever increasing range of Brew York beers. Add to this a specially curated menu of premium bottles/cans (especially the Belgian stuff that I adore), our Hoptails and a choice of 14 fruit puree options that can be selected from to make your own custom Berliner Weisse (sub 3% German Sour Beer) and it’s sure to be York’s most diverse offering!
Should we exceed our £40k initial target then there are a series of things we’d like to do. Firstly, in creating the Brew York Taproom it was important to us that it was accessible so all may enjoy the beer and brewing environment we’ve created. With the creation of the Street Food Kitchen, which is on the second floor, we’d like to make sure this is still the case. We’ve already installed a permanent ramp at the front of the building and we’d like to upgrade the recently re-commissioned cargo lift to become a passenger lift so everyone can access what is sure to be an enticing venue.
Beyond improving accessibility, we’d like to install an improved small-scale pilot brewing kit, which will allow us to:
Many of you will have enjoyed the small room off to the right of the main Taproom which we’ve only used so far for major events. We’d like to make this the Hoptail Lounge. It would be a permanent fixture so any overfunding would also go towards kitting out this area.
Any overfunding beyond the stretch targets outlined above would be directed towards the expansion of production through installing additional fermenting vessels and our own canning line. Bringing our canning in house would allow us to focus more on our quality in small pack and allow us to put much more of the beer we produce into cans, which can only be a good thing!
Let’s party like it’s 2018!
Anyone who joins the Brew York (R)evolution and invests in one of our crowdfunding reward packages will be invited to the Street Food Kitchen pre-launch party where they’ll be the first to try out the finished venue and food. There’ll be discounts and promotions all night to celebrate!
So why no equity?
We don’t feel the timing is right to offer equity at the moment. We are after all still a very small team without the means to do the reams of financial reporting required for an equity listing. However, although we’ve opted to not offer equity this time around, any future round of crowdfunding is likely to feature this. And so, to reward anyone who invests in a reward package this time priority access would be given in any future funding round.
A very BIG thanks!
And finally, thanks to anyone who has been part of the first two years in whatever form. Whether your part of our fantastic team, have supplied us in some way, have worked with us in some form or are part of the beer drinking crowd that gives the Taproom it’s great vibe, Brew York would not be what it is without all of you, so cheers!!!
Lee and of course my Brew York co-founder Wayne