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Apr 9, 2015 3:15 PM ET

Archived: The Bellfield Brewery: make gluten-free beers and lagers that taste as good as any other craft beer

iCrowdNewswire - Apr 9, 2015


The Bellfield Brewery

Bellfield Brewery is a new craft brewery with a mission: to make gluten-free beers and lagers that taste as good as any other craft beer. The company now wants to scale up its operation by opening the UK’s first dedicated gluten-free brewery in Edinburgh. UK distributors and retailers have already expressed an interest in representing Bellfield Brewery and a number of pubs across the UK are keen to stock the company’s products.

The Idea

Bellfield Brewery is a new craft brewery with a mission: to make Gluten Free (GF) beers and lagers that taste as good as any craft beer. We are the UK’s first dedicated gluten-free brewery as far as we’re aware.



  1.  Product Development:
  • The founders have personally funded the initial phase of recipe and product development which started in November 2014 in partnership with local independent brewer Kieran Middleton. Kieran is a craft beer fanatic, and a founder of “Porty Brew Co” a micro brewery in Portobello, Edinburgh. He has been brewing for many years and also works with local commercial brewer “Barney’s Beer” based at Summerhall in Edinburgh – http://www.barneysbeer.com/
  • The first four Bellfield Brewery beers have been produced (see pitch pictures) and are being conditioned, ready for tasting panels in May 2015 – an IPA, two lagers and a stout.
  • The founders have signed a Collaboration agreement with Heriot Watt University and developed a proposal for a rigorous programme of research and further recipe development.
  1.  Distribution:
  • UK distributors and retailers have already expressed an interest in representing Bellfield Brewery and have requested samples of our beer.
  • We are also in discussion with an Italian distributor.
  • We have expressions of interest from pubs across the UK looking to stock our beer.
  1.  Brand Development:
  • Bellfield Brewery has agreed a programme of strategic brand development with experts in the sector
  • Gareth Howells (www.behance.net/gareth_howells)
  • Chartered Brands who oversaw the work on brand development and strategy for Genius bread which became the GF category brand leader within a year of launching, capturing 29% of the UK market. (source: Neilsen). As soon as we are funded, the customer insight phase of this work will start.
  1.  Premises:

We have a short list of premises drawn up.  Site visits will take place on April 15th with brewing consultant David Smith to establish suitability and finalise location.

Shortlst of premises as follows:

  • Bilston Glen Industrial Estate, in Loanhead (EH20 9LZ) where Stewart’s Brewing is based ( VIEW HERE )
  • Newhailes Industrial Estate, Musselburgh ( VIEW HERE )
  • Holyrood Business Park,  Drybrough Brewery site near Duddingston (See Unit 1 of Fermentation Block – VIEW HERE)


Why gluten free?

There is a “big opportunity” for GF beer “but it hasn’t taken off to any degree so far,” according to Mintel’s global market analyst, Chris Brockman.

Coeliacs (pronounced see-liac) have a serious autoimmune disease caused by an allergy to gluten. Many other people actively avoid gluten. That means you can’t eat normal bread, pizza, pasta, crisps, tortillas, ready meals, sauces, pastry, pies, soya sauce or  chutneys – and the list goes on. Nor can you drink beer.

For passionate beer drinkers who have to avoid gluten, it’s tough being denied one of the great joys of life!

So what do we plan to do that’s different?

From our research the number of dedicated gluten free breweries in the world can be counted on the fingers of one hand (there are dedicated GF breweries in the US, Australia, Finland and Canada but none in UK – yet).

We plan to join this elite group, producing beers and lagers that will be produced in small batches, using traditional brewing methods combined with non-traditional ingredients: a combination of art and science.

Bellfield Brewery will brew a range of craft beers with broad consumer appeal, so that they can be enjoyed by both coeliacs and the growing number of people who wish to avoid gluten in their diet.

Every beer that we will make will be naturally gluten-free, made in the brewery we plan to set up in Edinburgh, a city with a proud brewing heritage and history. We plan to develop, brew and bottle our beer ourselves.

We believe the best way for us to put the UK’s first dedicated GF brewery on the map, is to bring in investors so that you and your friends can get involved and own a part of this exciting business, become our customers and eventually ambassadors for the brand we hope to build.

And who are we?

Both Bellfield’s founders are either coeliac or have loved ones who are, so we know from personal experience how the gluten-intolerant drinker has been left behind by the explosion of craft brewing in the UK. Although we don’t have brewing backgrounds (Giselle is Director of a successful independent PR agency and Alistair is a digital media expert and broadcasting executive, working as ‎Chief Technology & Platforms Officer at STV Group PLC) through our networks, we feel we have accessed the best brewing and brand development brains to help develop our recipes, build our brand and grow the business.

So you’re wondering, why invest? I’m not a coeliac, why do I care?

Total UK Beer Sales reached £16.9 billion in 2014. Sales of premium bottled ale have increased by 20% over the past 5 years and the typical PBA drinker is affluent, with a real AB bias. Sales of craft ale in the UK are estimated at £438m and the sector is in good health. UK Drinkers consumed 33 million more pints of locally-brewed beer in 2013 compared to 2012, according to a report from the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA).


  • According to retail analysts Mintel, 34% of regular beer drinkers would consider Gluten Free beer if it tasted as good as regular beer
  • 1 in 100 people in the UK are Coeliac, and the number of people being diagnosed, has increased fourfold between 1990 and 2011(Nottingham University) but one in five Brits is now regularly buying gluten free products
  • “Free-from” sales topped £0.5bn for the first time in 2014, after sales grew by 15 per cent.
  • While gluten free lagers and beers are now available in the UK, we’ve found that the category remains limited. This is because brewing with entirely gluten-free grains remains technically difficult.

So we believe there is a great market opportunity.

Now how do we intend to take advantage of this?

From our research there is limited availability of gluten free craft beers in the on-trade and we hope to address that while also supplying independent specialists and multiple retailers with products that have broad consumer appeal, for people to enjoy at home, whether they are gluten intolerant or not.

There are a small number of regular breweries in the UK, producing batches of “Gluten Free” beer and others contract brew in Europe but we believe that we can produce beers that taste better even than the best of these.

We will work towards building a strong, appealing brand – not something that looks like you’d get on prescription. And we’ll make sure our distribution is first rate; finding these existing GF beers, even in big supermakets, can be a challenge.

We plan to market our beers as great tasting craft beers, that stand up to any in the market – that also happen to be gluten free.

We will use our own production methods which we are developing with leading brewing experts from the world-renowned International Centre for Brewing and Distillling at Heriot-Watt University, so that our beers are naturally gluten free.

We will not use the chemicals or enzymes that are often used to produce ‘gluten-free’ beer, nor will we use any corn derived sugars or any artificial colouring agents in our beers and will source local wherever possible.

Bellfield Brewery will aim to secure the prestigious ‘crossed grain’ accreditation from Coeliac UK for our range of beers.

Phase 1 of Product development is nearing completion with consumer tastings of our first four test brews scheduled for Q1 2015.

We have started discussions with potential distributors and we already have some of the UK’s best respected brand development specialists working with us.

We would really like you to invest in Bellfield Brewery so that we can further develop our test recipes, brewing these at a commercial scale.

And we’d also like to use some of the funds we raise to invest in great brand development support so that when we open the brewery as planned later this year – and launch our first beers into the market – we have a flying start.



The three largest expense items in the next 12 months will be recipe and brand development, brewery set up and salaries.

  1. Recipe Development

We’ve personally funded the initial phase of recipe and product development which started in Q4 2014 and is being undertaken with a local independent brewer. The first four beers are produced and being conditioned now, ready for evaluation in March 2015.

We’ve also commissioned a research programme with an internationally renowned academic institution in the brewing field, with the first phase of beers produced from this research scheduled for evaluation and market testing in spring 2015.

NDAs are in place with both parties and under the terms of these programmes. The Bellfield Brewery has entered into confidentiality agreements concerning these recipes.

  1. Brand development 

We are already working on strategic brand development with experts in the sector including Gareth Howells (see People) and Chartered Brands who oversaw the work on brand development and strategy for Genius bread who became the GF category brand leader within a year of launching, capturing 29% of the entire UK market. (source: Neilsen) We aim to develop our brand initially through getting out there and letting people taste the beers – at specialist food and drink fairs, tastings in pubs and restaurants and through coeliac networks. The investment we hope to raise through this campaign will fund this work, so that we maximise the market opportunity at launch.

  1. Brewery set up

We plan to set up the brewery only when we’re certain we have world class beers. We have prepared our financial forecasts based on setting up a 15-barrel brewery (2,500 litres per brew) producing 3 batches of beer per week in 2016, and 5 batches per week in 2017 & 2018. We have the capacity within the planned brewery setup to increase production to 8-10 brews per week if demand requires it with no additional capital investment.

  1. Salaries 

We will appoint the best people we can find to help run the business, people with expertise and a track record of success in brewing, marketing & PR, sales and distribution. We expect to fill various roles as we grow and initially through the working capital provided by this crowdfunding campaign.


Coeliac disease is a lifelong autoimmune disease. It is caused by the immune system reacting to gluten.Gluten is a complex plant protein found in a variety of grains, including wheat, barley, rye, and some oats. It is not found in rice, millet, buckwheat, corn, sorghum, quinoa. Modern beer is usually made out of gluten-containing barley and often includes wheat, rye, and oats. Many lager beers also include some corn and/or rice, but are still mostly barley-based.

The Market

We believe we have a unique customer value proposition because we’re the first dedicated, naturally gluten free craft beer brewery in UK.  We strongly believe there is very significant market opportunity for Bellfield Brewery to exploit the sweet spot between the growing popularity of craft beers and the momentum that is building in the demand for gluten free food and drink, both in the UK and internationally. At this stage we see a number of opportunities and options opening up over this period.  We believe there is strong potential in taking high quality and authentically gluten free craft beers into the European and US markets and beyond. Our brand and product development work is taking this global ambition into account.

Target customers

We will target the 1% of the UK population who are coeliac those as well as the 6-10% who are affected by Gluten Sensivity. This number is growing: a recent academic study suggests the number diagnosed in the UK with coeliac disease has increased fourfold between 1990 and 2011, particularly among the middle classes.

The coeliac community in the UK is very passionate about ‘free from’ as the large number of bloggers and advocates in this field demonstrate. Since announcing our plans, we’ve had many emails from coeliacs across the UK, asking us when our beers will be on sale.

According to Mintel (Free From Global and Market Innovation, 2013 report) 18% of the UK population is now regularly buying gluten free goods, which gives us a broad addressable market.

Trends in the market

UK Beer Sales were worth £225m in 2013 with growth of 79% in the last 12 months. A quarter of the UKs 55,000 pubs already stock craft beer and since last November, (when MPs voted to end the ‘beer tie’) pubs are now free to buy more interesting products, on the open market.

The UK is following the USA with this move towards craft beer. Industry body the Brewers Association says craft brewers captured $14.3 billion of a total U.S. beer market of $100 billion in 2013.  While overall beer production declined 1.2% in that year, craft beer increased its market share to 7.8% with 17.2% growth in total barrels sold and 20.0% growth in the dollar value of sales.

This growth which the UK is predicted to follow, represents a great opportunity for products such as ours that have a unique proposition, setting them apart not only from non-GF craft beers, but also from other GF beers which are mostly produced using enzymes to de-glutenise or are brewed abroad.

  • UK Drinkers consumed 33 million more pints of locally-brewed beer in 2013 compared to 2012, according to a report from the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA).
  • Sales of craft ale in UK estimated at £438m close to 50/50 split between off trade and take home channels.
  • There are now 1,285 breweries operating in the UK and the industry is growing at over 10% a year, with nearly all new breweries producing cask-conditioned real ales as their core products.

According Mintel’s global market analyst, Chris Brockman speaking at a free-from food summit organised by Food & Drink Innovation Network on 10.09.2014 “There are more opportunities in beer… less than 1% of beer launches globally contain a gluten free claim….there is a big opportunity for GF beer but it hasn’t taken off to any degree so far…”

Our positioning will be upper premium and our products will be priced in line with equivalent products in the market. We will produce lager and pilsner beers as well as traditional ales – given the strength of the lager market in the UK and beyond (74% of total beer sales in the UK were lager, 21% ale and 5% stout).

We will focus initially on premium bottled ales (PBAs) because:

  • PBA volume has increased by 20% over the past 5 years
  • Typical PBA drinker is affluent, with real AB bias


The competition

There are a small number of companies in the UK producing batches  of “gluten free beer” while others contract brew in Europe. The best of these are Green’s (a UK business with beer brewed in Belgium with a range of naturally Gluten Free and de-glutenised beers); Estrella Daura (de-glutenised Estrella Damn from Barcelona) and Hambletons (certified Gluten Free (low gluten). Recently M&S and Brew Dog have also introduced a gluten free beer into their offerings.

We believe that current UK producers lack authenticity and among the coeliac community there is a lack of trust, because their GF beer isn’t naturally GF:  they brew using gluten containing ingredients and then use enzymes to ‘de-glutenise’. With a few exceptions, GF beer doesn’t taste that good and the branding is often worse, looking like something you might get on prescription. Because GF beers are mostly batch brewed in  breweries producing regular beers, distribution and availability can be patchy, even in big supermarkets.


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