Empress Ale founder Surj Virk (centre) with new investor Rupert Hambro (right) and global sales director Nicos Charalambous

A businessman whose backing helped establish Sipsmiths Gin as a market-leading brand has invested in a Warwickshire entrepreneur’s craft beer.

Rupert Hambro, the former chairman of Hambros Bank and Sipsmiths, has taken a shareholding in Empress Ale, an easy-drinking premium pale ale created by Leamington-based businessman Surj Virk in 2016.

Empress Ale previously gained investment in 2017 from Grenville Turner, the former group chief executive of Countrywide plc, a founding director of Rightmove and director of Zoopla.

It represents a further step forward for the brand, which is now stocked by
several Michelin Guide restaurants, after originally being brewed in small batches at a microbrewery in Leicestershire.

Virk said: “To attract investment from a name as well respected and successful as Rupert is a huge feather in the cap for Empress Ale. We are absolutely delighted. This will give us the opportunity to consolidate our achievements to this point and aim for even greater growth over the next few years.

“We have done the groundwork to establish the brand over the last three years, to the point that it is widely-stocked in Michelin Star and Michelin Guide establishments, online, and in shops across the UK. Having the involvement of Rupert, with his experience and knowledge within the alcohol industry, is another great addition for the business.”

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