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Bristol Beer Factory raise the bar with new investment

Bristol Beer Factory raise the bar with new investment

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As Bristol Beer Factory welcomes aboard new faces and new investment, Dan Izzard catches up with the whole team to find out what this means for the brewery’s future…

Bristol Beer Factory announced some exciting news this week, with substantial investment coming their way from two nationally celebrated players in the Bristol food and drink industry: Michelin-starred chef Josh Eggleton and former Butcombe Brewery MD Guy Newell.

Founded by experienced brewer Simon Bartlett and entrepreneur George Ferguson, this Bedminster brewery dates back to 2004, meaning it’s been present right through the “craft beer revolution,” as Ferguson points out.

Having started with just a small number of brews in its portfolio, it now produces several beers and owns pubs and bars that include The Grain Barge, The Barley Mow, The Tobacco Factory and the newest addition, The North Street Tap Room. It was here that we managed to corner all four, to find out about this exciting new development, and what the future has in store for the independent brewery…

Simon, who has worked in the brewing industry since 1986, has long been eyeing up prospects for the next installment of the BBF journey, telling us how it had been “growing quite substantially in the last five years, and it was going great guns.”

But, he says, it needed a financial injection to not only boost its profile but also to allow for investment in equipment and to bring more experience to the rapidly growing business.

That’s where Guy Newell comes in. Having a number of successful business ventures under his belt, he clearly saw the value in the brand, citing its location in the centre of Bristol, and the quality of its premier “local beer” as two particular draws.

From the outset, everyone is keen to point out that the acquisition is more than purely financial, as Ferguson comments in the clip below, stating that "it's less about the investment and more about the people and experience".

Growing Pains

Simon also spoke about the pace of the craft beer scene in South West, and how it was clear that, for BBF, focusing on a core range of products is key to maintaining growth in a business this size. Innovation and experimentation run alongside – and are integrated into – regular product cycles.

“The one thing we’ve got to look at, and where we’ll get Guy’s advice, is that there are many, many craft breweries at the moment churning out new thing after new thing – they’re going to run out of ideas soon. You’ve got to make a brewery stable by producing things like our new 4% beer Fortitude, bring that out, make it a major player in Bristol. We’ve got a couple of very young brewers in at the moment who have got some great ideas and we’ll be using them to bring out the really special stuff.”

With the investment and growth of the brand though also comes a willingness to collaborate and play an active part in the Bristol community – something that Josh, in particular, brings to the table (pun intended). Here he says how he's previously used BBF beers in his restaurants.

Now with a direct influence on proceedings at the brewery, we hope Josh will encourage the expansion of BFF offerings and open it up to a whole new audience of beer drinkers. First on the agenda for the newly formed team? Right now they’re concentrating on the launch of a few more special beers as well as a big first for BBF – a cider. Watch this space...

"We’ve got a couple of very young brewers in at the moment who have got some great ideas and we’ll be using them to bring out the really special stuff.”

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