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Rural family brewery and bottling plant to expand

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A family-run brewery on the Yorkshire coast is investing in new brewing and bottling equipment as it targets further growth in export sales.

Wold Top Brewery, near Driffield, has received a £150,000 Business Loan from Finance Yorkshire, which will be split 50/50 between the brewery and its bottling operation, Agricola Bottling.

The Mellor family has farmed 600 acres on the Yorkshire Wolds for generations but diversified into beer more than a decade ago, when traditional revenue streams declined.

Its award-winning beers, produced from a converted barn, include Wold Top Bitter and the award-winning Wold Gold.

Tom Mellor, managing director, runs the business with his wife Gill. Their daughter and son-in-law, Kate and Alex, also work in the business.

Around 15 per cent of Wold Top’s bottled ales are exported, with demand from beer lovers in Europe and Canada.

Tom said: “The new brewing equipment will enable us to produce almost the same amount of beer in one day as we currently do in a week.

“We will also be able to contract-brew beer for other brewers when they are at maximum production levels.

“There is a real demand for British beers, which are seen as premium brands overseas. We have complete traceability from grain to glass.

“We grow barley on the farm and our maltster is ten miles away.”

Agricola Bottling was launched in 2007. It bottles beer for a number of well-known breweries, including Ilkley Brewery and Saltaire Brewery.

The investment will assist in the installation of a mezzanine floor and a second filtration system that enables beer to be placed into kegs and bottles at the same time.

Tom added: “It’s a competitive market. Thousands of pubs have shut yet there are more micro-breweries than ever before. You have to be innovative so we are investing in contract bottling.”

He intends to further develop the contract brewing and bottling side of the business in order to reduce the firms’ reliance on the cask ale market.

The investment opportunity was introduced to Finance Yorkshire by Martin Overfield of Smailes Goldie accountants in Hull.

Finance Yorkshire investment manager Ian Atkinson said: “Wold Top Brewery has experienced an impressive first decade but it needed investment to keep up with demand for its beer and bottling services.

“The new equipment will transform production capacity as it targets further growth both in the UK and overseas.”

To date, Finance Yorkshire has made 694 investments totalling £90 million.

It provides seedcorn, loan and equity linked investments, ranging from £15,000 to £2m to help a range of small and medium sized businesses to meet their funding requirements for growth and development.

The project is supported financially by the European Union. It has attracted £30m investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme, £15m from UK Government and £45m match funding from the European Investment Bank.

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Martin Overfield, of Smailes Goldie Accountants; Ian Atkinson of Finance Yorkshire; and Kate Balchin, Alex Balchin, Gill Mellor and Tom Mellor of Wold Top Brewery

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