Victoria’s Bridge Road Brewers has become the latest craft brewery to complete a successful equity crowdfunding campaign, raising $1.5 million off the back of sheer investor enthusiasm and a growing appetite for non-alcoholic options.
The Beechworth-based company closed its Birchal campaign at 10pm Thursday after accruing $1.5 million in support from 872 separate investors.
The final tally nearly doubled the business’ target of $750,000, helping the 17-year-old company expand from its Beechworth brewery and taproom to a second hospitality venue in East Brunswick.
Bridge Road Brewers owner Ben Kraus says upgrading from Bridge Road Brewers’ pop-up taproom in Melbourne will drive revenue through the business’ hospitality wing and help advertise its wholesale operations.
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The company’s wholesale efforts have been boosted by the addition of the alcohol-free Free Time pale ale, which Kraus said had grown to account for 17% of all wholesale revenue.
The Birchal investment will help the firm secure a flash pasteuriser, an addition Kraus said would bolster its ability to produce Free Time and other select beers.
“The overwhelming demand for Free Time means we need to upgrade and upscale this equipment,” Kraus told SmartCompany on Friday.
“Part of the raise will go towards this investment.”
In successfully closing its equity crowdfunding round, Bridge Road Brewers joins craft breweries Batch Brewing Co., Black Hops, and alcohol-free pioneer Sobah as beneficiaries of the investment system.
But unlike craft breweries like Stone & Wood, whose owner Fermentum was last year bought out by international beverages giant Lion for more than $500 million, Kraus said he intends to retain ownership of Bridge Road Brewers into the future.
Beyond the perks offered to Birchal investors, he said the company will consider dividends in the future, pointing to private South Australian giant Coopers as an example of a major independent brewery.
“We will continue to look to balance providing dividends whilst also reinvesting in capital in order to take advantage of growth opportunities,” Kraus said.