Jason Clarke and Charlie Craig, of Genius Brewing
Award-winning Glaswegian lager maker Genius Brewing will ramp up production in 2020 with a £60,000 loan from UMi Debt Finance Scotland, a £12 million fund that forms part of the Scottish Government’s Scottish Growth Scheme.
Genius Brewing was established in 2016 with a mission to make healthier drinking a pleasure, not a compromise. In April 2018, the company launched Gen!us Craft Lager, which won best UK craft lager at the 2019 LUX Life Food and Drink Awards.
Creative director, Jason Clarke, said: “The UK craft beer market is crowded, but Gen!us is the UK’s first light craft lager, with just 3% ABV and only 79 calories per distinctive gold can.
“The lightbulb moment for co-founder Charlie Craig and I was realising that the wider trend for healthier lifestyles would change people’s drinking habits.”
Genius Brewing is taking advantage of this worldwide trend, where consumers are reducing their alcohol and calorie consumption: “In the USA, the three best-selling beers are all light beers, and where America leads, Britain often follows, so it’s no surprise to us that UK sales of low- and no-alcohol beer went up 50% last year,” said Jason.
On financing, Jason added: “Too many start-ups believe they can scale up by relying on organic growth. This is very hard to do, and even if they do manage it, it tends to slow the company’s growth, giving competitors a chance to enter the market or overtake them.
“There’s also something of a culture gap in the UK, whereby we see debt or fundraising as risky or a weakness — but great ideas need capital investment.”
Tom Brock, fund director at UMi Debt Finance Scotland, said: “The team at Genius are passionate about their product and are innovators in their sector. They understand their market and changing consumer tastes, and we are delighted to support their ambitious growth plans.”
Genius Brewing is using a combination of equity and debt to finance its growth journey, Charlie said: “Both have their advantages, and in the case of the UMi Debt Finance Scotland loan, the fact that it is unsecured gives comfort to our current and future equity investors.”
The £60,000 loan is helping Genius produce its next 150,000 cans and also scale up its marketing, and in September it took on its first employee, Murray Johnstone, as sales and account manager for Scotland.