By Terry Murden
Craft beer company Innis & Gunn has unveiled plans to build a £3m brewery and is believed to have targeted a site in Edinburgh.
If the deal comes off it would enable it to bring its brand back to the city where it all began more than a decade ago.
The company, which is headquartered in the capital, has grown into an international business, but has never had its own brewery.
Now it is raising £3m for its first dedicated brewhouse, bottling line and barrel store which will create 35 jobs.
The company’s beers were first brewed at the Caledonian Brewery in the Slateford area of the capital, but since 2011 they have been produced at Tennent’s Wellpark brewery.
Now the company has unveiled a ‘crowdfunding’ exercise – inviting its growing international base of beer fans and other members of the public to subscribe to a four-year fixed term mini-bond.
It will pay 7.25% interest on a minimum £500 investment, considerably higher than any savings deal on the high street.
Dougal Gunn Sharp, founder and chief executive, said: “We could have gone to the back for the money but we would rather pay interest to the people who drink our beer.
“We’ve always been fanatical about ingredients and brewing. Our state-of-the-art brewery is where we will get even more creative and make epic new beers for craft beer drinkers to enjoy.”
The company said only that it is negotiating on a site in “south east Scotland”, but there has been talk for some months among beer enthusiasts that it is looking at a site on the edge of Edinburgh.
The company was launched in 2003 by Mr Sharp, former head brewer at the Caledonian, who set it up as a joint venture with whisky firm William Grant & Sons until leading a management buy-out in 2008.
The beer was originally used to flavour the barrels used by William Grant for its ale cask reserve whisky. The beer was supposed to be discarded afterwards, but bosses noted that the brewery workers were drinking it.
After Heineken bought Scottish & Newcastle, production moved from the S&N-owned Caledonian to Belhaven in Dunbar and Marston’s in England before its switch to Glasgow.
Two years ago the company said it couldn’t afford to build its own brewery, but its growth in that time has forced a change of mind.
Sharp has invested heavily in new equipment and streamlining operations, including transferring the firm’s bottling operation from Bury St Edmonds in Suffolk to Wellpark. A re-design of its bottles has reduced the amount of glass used, cutting further on transport costs and carbon emissions.
The company also financed the six-figure design and development of second-generation “Oakerators”, the hi-tech vessels used to mature its beers. These went into service in December 2013.
Sales hit £11.8 million in 2014 – up from £10.5 million in 2013. It sold 20 million bottles of beer and is the second biggest supplier of craft beer to the UK off-trade.