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A new business in Southport is tapping into the micro-brewery trend with backing from Merseyside Special Investment Fund (MSIF)

Brewhooha Project Limited t/a Tap and Bottle is a beer bar & bottle shop which has been opened by Julian Burgess, a self-confessed beer geek and specialist beer enthusiast. 

The business, which launched in August 2014, sells a wide range beers including bottled and cask ales from national and international micro-breweries. Customers can drink on site in the Tap & Bottle bar or buy bottles to take away.

MSIF has provided a £20,000 loan using a combination of funding from the Start Up Loans Fund and the Regional Growth Fund.

Mr Burgess said:  “In recent years there has been an upsurge in the numbers of small scale/artisan micro-breweries and there are around 1200 in the UK.  However it can be quite difficult for them to sell their products in pubs owned by the larger breweries and I saw a gap in the market for an outlet to serve craft beers in a smaller more intimate venue.

“Tap & Bottle has already built up a regular customer-base. We get lots of groups who come here for to drink something a bit more unusual, different than you might get on your average night out at the pub.  

“I am now looking to develop the business further by improving the upstairs and outside areas. We also want to offer beer tastings and meet the brewer events and are also going to start serving food. I am also developing the website so that customers can order online. 

“The funding from MSIF has been crucial to my business as I was really struggling to raise finance elsewhere.  I had a fantastic experience with MSIF who were really interested in the business and have been really supportive of me from day one.”

MSIF’s COO Lisa Greenhalgh said:  “Julian thoroughly researched his market before coming to us with his business plan and we could see that there this was a viable business with plenty of growth opportunities in the future.  As a Southport resident myself, I know that Tap and Bottle has already developed a large following and the bar is always busy.

“New and original businesses like this should be supported as they are vital to economic growth and the Start Up Loans scheme plays a really important role in helping businesses like this get off the ground.”

The company currently employs 4 staff and is on target to reach a turnover of £200k this year.

MSIF created an investment package using money from the Start Up Loans Programme and RGF funding.    The government-funded Start Up Loans Programme provides loans to assist with start-up costs as well as free mentoring support, and exclusive business offers from partners such as Regus, Paypal, eBay and Intuit. 

MSIF was supported by a Regional Growth Fund programme provided through the Community Development Finance Association. It provides loans to small, micro and social enterprises through the community finance sector. £30million of funding is provided by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, matched with a further £30 million by the Co-operative Bank and Unity Trust Bank.