Hop Back to brew up pounds 750,000 in BES

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The Independent Online
REAL ALE buffs will soon be able to invest in the Hop Back Brewery, producer of the award-winning and potent Summer Lightning.

The company wants to raise pounds 750,000 under the Business Expansion Scheme, mainly to expand its pub estate from two to 10. Subscription lists for its offer of shares at pounds 1 each open next Friday.

Hop Back, based in Salisbury, Wiltshire, was founded in 1986 by John and Julie Gilbert.

It brews seven ales regularly. Besides Summer Lightning, which is 5 per cent alcohol, other brands include Wheat Beer, also 5 per cent, Entire Stout at 4.5 per cent, and Wilt Alternative at 4.2 per cent.

The brewery is running close to capacity, producing around 400 barrels a month, which equates to about 1.4 million pints a year. Hop Back has plans to double its brewing capacity, and has recently taken a lease on an adjacent factory unit.

In the nine months to 30 June, the company made taxable profits of pounds 76,000 on sales of pounds 573,000.

About one-fifth of the brewery's sales are accounted for by the company's two pubs, the Wyndham Arms in Salisbury and the Waterloo Arms in Southampton. About 60 per cent of production is sold to wholesalers serving the free trade.

Mr Gilbert, who has enlisted James Carew, former managing director of Youngs Brewery, as chairman, said: 'We don't want to get locked into one pub chain. And our eventual aim is to pay a dividend in three years, and go for a stock market listing. We want our investors to stay involved once the five-year BES term is up.'

Hop Back's BES scheme is being handled by Wise Speke, the Manchester stockbroker.