Justin Hawke, the founder of fast-growing brewer Moor Beer Company tells Robert Lovell about his plans to shake up the traditional real ale market and what he looks for from his accountants.
To sustain its rapid growth Moor Beer relocated last year from a dairy farm on the Somerset Levels to an industrial unit on Days Road in Bristol, a short walk from the city’s main train station, Temple Meads.
Californian co-owner Justin Hawke will be speaking at the Practice Excellence Conference next month, so it seemed like a good idea for AccountingWEB to head to the brewery tap to find out more about the business, and to sample one of its famously hazy beers.
Hawke and his wife took over the brewery in 2007. Since then the couple has substantially increased the quality and range of beers on offer, and expanded both production and distribution.
To meet continuing international demand, the brewery recently installed a new canning production line to complement its cask, keg and bottling operations.
With room to grow on the new premises, Hawke has plans to install more fermentation tanks and is now ready to take Moor Beer to the next level.
“We have plans to double and perhaps even treble production and our workforce in the next few years,” Hawke said.
The domestic market and recently opened brewery tap are important for growth, but international demand for Moor Beer currently accounts for 30% of total production.
To help keep up with this demand, Moor Beer sought the advice of local accounting firm Francis Clark, which helped the business buy the property and secure a grant from the Regional Growth Fund.
Hawke said he doesn’t just want basic accounts and compliance from his advisers. These aspects are important, but he is more interested in business advice to help his company grow.
Hawke, a former business consultant and US army officer, added: “We are now preparing a claim for R&D tax relief for the development of new brews.”
Hawke describes the company’s product as “modern real ale” nestling on the beer spectrum between traditional real ale and craft beer. The model that drives it is to create a premium product backed with strong branding.
Unlike most brews, Moor Beer is designed to be served with a haze. This is because the company does not use isinglass cask finings [dried fish bladders and sodium metabisulphite] . This leaves the beer looking cloudy, but gives it a fuller more natural flavour and freshness compared to other ales.
Along with the company’s ‘Drink Moor Beer!’ slogan, merchandise and branding adorn the walls of the brewery tap. And hanging along the narrow corridor between the bar and the toilet are dozens of awards picked up over the years.
According to Hawke prejudice and ignorance have been rampant in the pub industry for years, but things are changing, and he’s not afraid of disrupting the status quo.
To find out more about this fast growing business and what it expects from its accountant, come along the Practice Excellence Conference on 24 September in London.
About Robert Lovell
Business and finance journalist