Heineken investment helps Brixton Brewery scale new heights
Founded by friends Jez Galaun and Mike Ross back in 2013, craft brewer Brixton Brewery has grown exponentially since its launch.
Starting off by home brewing, it didn’t take long for the pair to open a stand-alone brewery underneath a railway arch just off Brixton Station Road.
However, as demand soared, the company soon found itself running at full steam. By late 2016, they had reached full capacity and knew they would have to invest to continue growing.
Galaun explains: “We reached brewing capacity in our current railway arch space in late 2016, so 2017 was less about significant growth and more about continuing our efforts as a small business to raise our profile through social media, events, partnerships and being more experimental with our brewing styles.
“We also took the time to implement systems to help things run smoothly and professionally and we added some support staff to our team. We knew a bigger expansion was a strong possibility in 2018 so 2017 was something of a year of strategy, maintaining strong relationships with our existing customers, and planning for future growth.”
Underpinning their future growth plans was a determination to secure a new site for the brewery, something which they knew they would need if they were to continue growing. However, as a business which takes great pride in being a local company, they knew moving out of Brixton was out of the question.
But, with London property prices continuing to soar, it was never going to be easy finding a larger site near home. Luckily, their rapid growth caught the eye of Dutch brewing giant Heineken and after a series of talks, the brewer agreed to invest in a minority stake in the business for an undisclosed sum.
“We’ve always been ambitious for our brewery, and have seen the potential for growth, but the speed with which we reached capacity at our railway arch premises surprised even us,” Galaun added. “We wanted to remain in Brixton, where available property is limited and expensive, and we also wanted to grow with the founders remaining in charge.
“So, when Heineken approached us about a partnership, we saw that it would allow us to do all of those things: we secured a large new site near our current one, where we’re building a new brewery with a capacity of nearly 10 times our current site, and because it’s a minority investment, we get to lead the way and remain at the forefront of the business we’re incredibly proud to have built.
“Heineken will help us reach new thirsty customers, but we are free to independently build and expand our business as we’ve been doing, through maintaining consistent, top quality in brewing, being good employers, building a recognisable brand, and giving a little flavour of Brixton with all of our beers.
“This year is probably going to be almost as crazy and exciting as 2013, the year we started, because in a lot of ways, it’s almost like starting again. We’ve got a new brew kit to master, we’ll be adding a number of people to our team as we’ll need more support staff in the office and warehouse, and we’ll be renewing and refreshing our current brewery into an improved tap room and brew house for our Ltd Edn range of more experimental beers outside of our core range and regular seasonal offerings.
“We see the business growing from our Brixton home to being ever more widely available throughout the UK.”
And it’s not just the home markets the pair have their eyes on either. He concludes: “We've also had quite a bit of interest from overseas. There's a general interest in London Craft Beer and Brixton is well known around the world, which means we get a lot of enquiries.
“We've had to put most on the back-burner whilst we add more capacity and a canning line but we do regularly send our beer to Italy. We've also had orders from far flung places like Hong Kong and Bermuda.
“We'll definitely be looking to develop these relationships further and send our beer to new markets provided we can find the right partners who can help tell our story and look after the beer.”
Published: 24 April 2018