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Vault City to become the ‘biggest sour beer producer in the world’

Edinburgh-based brewery Vault City will soon be able to produce more than 10 million litres of its sour beer per year, with scope to expand further.

The expansion followed a recent crowdfunding campaign that was set up via the company’s webstore, as well as through bars, bottle shops and export sales and saw the brewery raise the £330,000 needed to purchase the new site at BioCampus which is seven times the size of its Portobello brewery.

The expansion, which sees the brewery making an increase of more than eight million litres of beer, means brews such as Strawberry Banana Milkshake, Raspberry Blueberry Bubblegum, Jaffa Cakes, and ‘Iron Brew’ will become more widely available to sour beer fans, with the ability to expand by 20 times its current 34,000 sq ft site.

Speaking about the expansion, Vault City’s co-founder Steven Smith-Hay said: “Our ambition is to be the biggest dedicated sour beer producer in the world. This new site will be instrumental in achieving that.

Smith-Hay admitted: “Building a business without external investment is challenging, while the volatility of rental units and lease terms can make the future uncertain. It’s a big gamble wanting to grow a business in the current economy, but our amazing community reduced that risk by supporting our crowdfunder sale, helping raise the capital needed to buy the new site outright.

Smith-Hay described the new site as “our forever home” and highlighted how it allowed the brewery room “to plan Vault City’s growth more strategically and effectively” and ultimately meant that everyone at Vault City could “expand our product output and grow our team while retaining our independence”.

Research conducted by Vault City last year revealed around a third (31%) of UK drinkers are more likely to be experimental when it comes to choosing drinks than they were before lockdown began in March 2020. Now, according to the brewer, more than a third of sour beers consumed in the UK are made by the team at Vault City.

Vault City passed £5m turnover this year – with export up by 62% and, Smith-Hay pointed out that “the new site will allow Vault City its global reach, exporting more beer to its existing customers in Norway, France, Denmark, and Singapore” as well as new ones with US and Canada which he identified as “growth areas”.

Additionally, the brewery’s business to consumer sales have more than doubled in that same period, with more than 250 pubs now stocking its beers as well as the independent brewery’s growth now being driven by the big four UK supermarkets, with Asda soon to be the latest to join Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s as stockists.

Vault City’s brewery, lab, external storage site and fulfilment site will now be consolidated on the BioCampus site, which will also host a barrel store and with Vault City’s new range of barrel-aged beers also soon due to join the line-up.

Smith-Hay added: “Vault City is unlike most other breweries as we make mixed fermentation beers, with a live house culture. The condition and viability of this needs assessed on a daily basis in order to maintain the signature Vault City flavour profile. We also need to monitor and test all the parameters of the liquid to uphold strict quality standards. This is currently outsourced to a lab off site – bringing this on site into one place will be transformative.”

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