‘Mad Edinburgh scientists’ who went viral with Irn-Bru flavour beer open giant new brewery

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Vault City moves into new home funded by diehard fans of its incredible creations

An Edinburgh brewer famed for its weird and wonderful sour beers has moved into a new home – seven times the size of its Portobello brewery.

A recent crowdfunding campaign through Vault City’s webstore, as well as through bars, bottle-shops and export sales, raised the £330,000 needed to purchase the new site at BioCampus, Scotland's first dedicated national bio-manufacturing campus located within the Midlothian Science Zone in Edinburgh.

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The new brewery means the mad scientists of sour beer famous for their experimental and accessible drinks – including the likes of Strawberry Banana Milkshake, Raspberry Blueberry Bubblegum, Jaffa Cakes, and Iron Brew – will now be able to produce more than 10 million litres of beer per year, an increase of more than eight million.

Edinburgh-based brewer Vault City has moved into a new home seven times the size of its Portobello brewery.Edinburgh-based brewer Vault City has moved into a new home seven times the size of its Portobello brewery.
Edinburgh-based brewer Vault City has moved into a new home seven times the size of its Portobello brewery.

There’s also scope to expand this new facility by 20 times its current 34,000 sq ft site.

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. 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.

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“This is our forever home and it allows us to plan Vault City’s growth more strategically and effectively; we can 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.

This change in behaviour, not just in the UK but around the world, is part of what has driven Vault City’s extraordinary growth from its humble beginnings in a Dundee kitchen in 2018. Then, Smith-Hay began taking simple ingredients and transforming them into extraordinary sour beers on his stove through the magic of fermentation.

Now, more than a third of sour beers consumed in the UK are made by Vault City, which passed £5m turnover this year – with export up by 62% .

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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 USA and Canada identified as growth areas B2C sales have more than doubled in that same period, with more than 250 pubs stocking its beers as well as growth driven by the big four UK supermarkets, with Asda soon to be the latest to join Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s as stockists.

Its brewery, lab, external storage site and fulfilment site will now be consolidated on the BioCampus site, which will also host a barrel store. Vault City’s newrange of barrel-aged beers is on the horizon.

Steven 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.”

To browse Vault City’s beers, visit www.vaultcity.co.uk/collections/beers

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