Argyll-based craft brewery – Fyne Ales – has turned the first soil on a £2million expansion plan on their farm, which will treble turnover and meet growing demand for the company’s range of award-winning craft beers.
The development is co-funded with grant support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, a Food processing, Marketing & Co-operation Scheme (FPMC) grant from the Scottish Government and a £1million loan from Bank of Scotland supported by the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme as well as Asset Finance.
Fyne Ales’ current turnover is £1.6m. The expansion is expected to see this figure increase to over £5m in four years. The development is expected to create 10 construction jobs and 12 new permanent jobs in the company itself.
Fyne Ales currently produce 90 barrels of beer per week – the equivalent of 27,000 pints. The first expansion phase will see production increase to 180 barrels a week with space available to boost production to 120 barrels per day – the equivalent of 36,000 pints - in 5 years’ time.
Considered one of country’s leading craft breweries, Fyne currently hold a number of national and international industry accolades such as ‘Champion Beer of Scotland’, which was awarded to Jarl – ‘a hoppy blond session ale’ – at the 2013 Campaign for Real Ale’s annual Scottish Real Ale Festival in Edinburgh.
Alongside Jarl, the company produces up to 30 beers each year that are available in a wide range of independent off-licences and independent pubs, bars and restaurants as well as across Scotland in Waitrose and Morrisons.
Leading the expansion will be Managing Director Jamie Delap whose parents – Tuggy and Jonny – added a brewery to their 4th generation family farm in 2000 in response to the lack of quality beer available locally.
The farm’s sheep shed – built by Jamie’s grandfather in the early 70s and originally used as sheep market – will host the £2million brewery.
Unlike some other Scottish craft brewers who favour continental brewhouses manufactured and shipped from mainland Europe, Fyne Ales have opted to stay true to their heritage with a British-made brewkit that Jamie believes offers the best craft ale technology, commenting:
“Producing top quality Scottish beer is the real focus for us. When a brewery announces it’s going to be expanding and introducing new techniques, there’s often concern from drinkers that it will change the taste of the finished product.
“In our case, the expansion is about meeting growing demand but first and foremost is an opportunity for us to get even more flavour and consistency into our beers using kit like a hopback which will extract brighter and fresher aromas from the hops.
“The new brewery will also allow us to mill malt on demand which will add a new level of freshness to our beers.
"Ultimately what we’re offering beer drinkers in Scotland and beyond is progressive thinking that also manages to stay true to traditional British brewing values and techniques.”
Despite how the £2million expansion will significantly increase the volume of product produced and help the brewery achieve international targets, Jamie Delap is still committed to operating in symbiosis with the surrounding countryside:
“Our family have worked the farmland here at Loch Fyne for over 100 years.
"All our beers draw inspiration from the environment around us. This includes the infamous Argyll rain, which – within 24 hours of falling onto the hills around Loch Fyne – is the basis of our brews.
“Our livestock also get to enjoy the fruits of our labour with our sheep and Highland cattle fed on the spent malt which forms a nutritious addition to their diet, and the spent hops go to a local market gardener to improve the quality of what they grow.”
Other 2014 milestones for Fyne Ales include a move into kegged beers, shipping beer to more markets overseas and the return of FyneFest – the food, drink and music festival which has seen attendance increase substantially each year since it began in 2010.
Michelin-Starred Chef and proprietor of the Scran & Scallie, which stocks Fyne Ales, Tom Kitchin lent his support to the expansion adding:
“One of our aims when opening our gastro pub The Scran & Scallie in Edinburgh was to find the very best local ales to offer our guests. Family run breweries like Fyne Ales take a really personal approach to brewing which fits our philosophy at the pub. They’re taking old, traditional Scottish recipes and not only bringing them back but are reinventing and breathing new life into them.
“The beauty of sourcing beer from these local micro-breweries, is that they are made in much smaller quantities which means you get consistency and quality. It’s that attention to detail that we look for in all of our suppliers.”
David Smart, Head of Development at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said:
“Fyne Ales are a business demonstrating drive and growth in one of the most rural parts of Scotland. The beer they produce is interesting and has a high degree of provenance which serves them well globally. Their decision to work with a quality team of young, enthusiastic people gives us every confidence that the brand will continue to develop and grow far into the future.”
Alan Whyte, Relationship Manager at Bank of Scotland added:
“2014 offers the ideal stage for Scottish businesses to showcase their produce and Bank of Scotland wants to ensure that enterprises are given the opportunities they need to do so. Bank of Scotland is a champion of small businesses who wish to expand and our lending reflects this. A second brewery will allow Fyne Ales to capitalise on a recovering market, deliver on incremental sales’ demand and expand its business offering. We witnessed a fantastic year for the Scottish food and drink sector in 2013 and by ensuring businesses receive the right support, we are confident we can replicate that success.”
Fyne Ales Ltd was established by farmers Jonny and Tuggy Delap in 2000 and began production on St Andrews Day in 2001. Jamie Delap took on the role of Managing Director in 2009 following the passing of his father, Jonny Delap. The company is based in Cairndow in Argyll and employs 16 members of staff. Fyne Ales has recently started exporting and counts Japan, Italy, and Ireland among its international markets.