For brothers Fergus and Edward and dad George Bristow who founded Wight Knuckle Brewery in 2021 out of the Pilot Boat Inn in Bembridge, things have moved on from the initial small brewing kit they began with. With their craft beers now in demand across the Island, expansion is on the cards with a move to bigger premises, and a lottery loan was just what the company needed to smooth their way forward.
Using natural ingredients, Wight Knuckle beer is completely natural and brewed in a sustainable way: unfiltered, unfined, unpasteurised, and 100% vegan. The brewery uses only the highest quality British ingredients wherever possible and those which can be sourced on the Island like water and hops. From this year they’ll be implementing their own yeast lab, allowing them to re-use the yeast from their beers and so making efforts to reduce the impact on the environment.
“We’ve been having a large amount of growth recently, particularly over the last year, and are bursting at the seams at the brewery. We started with a small 500 litre brewery kit and now realise that we can’t keep up with demand for our cans and wholesale beer in kegs and casks and that shoehorning brewery into the back of a pub has its limitations! So, we’re moving to a new brewery this summer at Nunwell Home Farm which coincidentally we supply with our spent grain to feed their pigs.
There’s a second-hand brewery going in which is 2000 litres and we’re having storage built and eventually will convert the mezzanine floor so that we can have tours and tap room-style events in the future. Nunwell Home Farm is also planning to open as a wedding venue in 2024 so the collaboration between us will be amazing. The lottery loan will go towards the build and getting it up to spec, and the brewery equipment. It’ll also fund two new employees to make our offering even better and will upscale us dramatically.
We’d been researching funding options, the lottery grant fund came up as a potential source, and we felt that the criteria demanded suited our business model, employing local people and expanding and supporting other Island businesses. It was very black and white; we needed more capacity, which meant spending money to grow the business, so it made sense to apply. It’s, of course, interest-free which was a huge benefit to us given that interest rates are currently high, and we felt that it was a great opportunity not to be missed. We’ll be using Island builders and employing Islanders, so will be putting the money straight back into the Isle of Wight. We’re very grateful to have been given this opportunity to expand our business. It’s straightforward to apply and with the clear path we have for our business, we had all of the information needed to hand.”
The Isle of Wight Lottery is a great way to contribute to the community while having the chance of winning big. It is a well-regulated lottery that is governed by the Gambling Commission which enforces strict guidelines to ensure fairness and transparency. Through the lottery, 20% of the gross proceeds are contributed to the Restricted Good Causes Fund, contributing to the betterment of the community. The Loan Fund offers interest free loans to Island entrepreneurs who can borrow up to £50,000 to invest in their business provided that the expansion will create jobs or sustain employment.
The second good cause is the work that the Isle of Wight Chamber does to support new and growing businesses on the Island. The Chamber helps to nurture new start-ups and newly self-employed people by providing opportunities and advice, regardless of whether the businesses are Chamber members or not.