West Berkshire Brewery raises glass as it expands into Islington-based pub Shillibeers and puts pen to paper on new brewery

Francesca Washtell
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West Berkshire Brewery produces a range of award-winning beers (Source: Getty)

Crowdfunding beer maker West Berkshire Brewery is raising a glass after it put pen to paper on a new £3m custom-built brewery and secured its first urban pub, Shillibeers, in Islington.

The new brewery will allow West Berkshire to increase its brewing capacity tenfold and also to provide packaging for other breweries.

The brewer has said the developments signal a "new era" for the company, which attracted legendary brewing veteran David Bruce as an investor. He later joined the board as chairman in 2013.

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West Berkshire Brewery was founded in 1995 by a husband-and-wife duo who initially made beer in a converted barn behind a pub. Current brewing capacity is around 210 barrels per week, or around 11,000 barrels per year.

The company's brews, which include Good Old Boy, Mister Swift's Pale Ale and Dr Hexter's Healer, are offered as guest beers at Enterprise Inns and are available, in bottled form, in Fortnum & Mason, Tesco, Waitrose and Majestic Wines.

The deals have been signed during the company's crowdfunding campaign, via both the Asset Match and Seedrs platforms, which aims to raise £1.5m to help to fund the new initiatives.

Shares are priced at £3 per share, with a minimum purchase of four shares (equating to a minimum spend of £12). So far the company has raised over £1.36m via the process which closes on 14 June. The crowdfunding initiative draws an end to wider fundraising project to raise £4m to fund the expansion of the brewery.

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The 4,450 square foot London pub, Shillibeers, will allow the brewery to showcase its traditional cask ales, alongside the new craft beers from its Renegade Brewery range. The new brewery and packaging line is expected to be delivered in December 2016 and to be operational from early 2017.

David Bruce said: "This is a real turning point for us at West Berkshire Brewery. For the first time we can proudly serve our beers directly to customers. Our pub will be full of atmosphere and showcase a stunning range of beers and ciders from all over the world, including those we make ourselves.

"We’re just as excited to have signed an agreement for our new brewery. We have a fabulous brewing team who are full of ideas and our new equipment will enable them to let their creativity loose," Bruce added.

"It also means that we can significantly increase our production, allowing us to spread our wings further than our current distribution heartland; it’s truly an exciting time."

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