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Bank backing helps Cardiff craft brewery bloom

Founders of Cardiff-based craft brewery and taproom, Flowerhorn Brewery, are expanding production and making plans to open a new bar following a second injection of cash from the British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme.

Long time friends Andrew Traynor (30) and Arran McHugh (28) set up Flowerhorn Brewery in 2019 with a homebrew kit in their garage following a number of years working in the industry together at Tiny Rebel.

Using only the best, real ingredients they can source, the guys produce a range of craft beers with a twist at the brewery, from the core favourites of Yawn – a 4.7% Mosaic Pale Ale, Capo – a 5.1% Citra Pale Ale and Bits – a 5.5% Orange Juice IPA, to rotational specials and collaboration brews which have included a 9% Doughnut Stout with local doughnut shop Cardiff Dough & Co, a 7% Margarita Gose with La Pantera Taco Bar and a 5% New England IPA with Pritchard from Dirty Sanchez/SWYD Barber Shop.

Andrew said: “Arran and I met through mutual friends while we were both at university. We soon realised we had much in common with our love for beer and ended up working together in the industry post-uni, travelling around the UK, learning about the brewing process and really immersing ourselves in the sector. This led us to start thinking about what the perfect brewery would look like and our vision was very much aligned, so we decided to reach for our dreams and give it a go ourselves.

“In terms of the name of the business, what better to name it after than a mutated fish – weird I know – but a Flowerhorn Cichlid has unusual and aggressive behaviour, a bit like our unique beer creations, and it makes for some cool branding, which is where the big pink fish logo came from!”

Applying for their first Start Up Loan during the height of the pandemic in 2020, the initial funds helped the pair move from Arran’s parents’ garage to the current industrial set up at The Bridge Studios in Cardiff. Three years on, their second combined loan of £30,000 has paid for an additional two fermentation tanks – which are used as part of the brewing process – giving them an additional 80% capacity which has helped them keep up with demand and will give them room to keep growing well into 2024.

The British Business Bank Start Up Loans programme provides government backed loans of up to £25,000 per individual, up to a maximum of £100,000 per business. In addition to finance, successful applicants receive free mentoring, access to resources and advice.

“Both of our Start Up Loans have been of huge value to us, initially helping us move from Arran’s parents’ garage to a proper site, to helping us expand further with our new tanks, which is almost doubling our production capacity”, Andrew said. 

“This expansion helps us move towards the next big plan of opening our own bar in Cardiff in collaboration with our friends at our neighbouring street food business, Mr Croquewich. We have a location secured which we will be able to announce a bit closer to launch but we’re set to have a full eight keg lines and two cask pumps. We will be stocking our own brews and guest beers which will pair perfectly with our food offering from Mr Croquewich. We’re on track to open in April.”

With sustainability at the heart of the business, the pair have also cooked up a clever idea in the form of the Flowerhorn Dog Bakery to use the waste products from the brewing process to create Pale Ale Dog Biscuits. Made from spent malt which is dehydrated, milled and mixed with flaxseed, flour and peanut butter, the result is a high protein, natural, vegan dog snack, which is packaged in eco-friendly pouches, aluminium tins and wrapped in compostable paper labels to keep it as sustainable as possible. A portion of profits from every sale is also donated to Cardiff based dog’s home, The Rescue Hotel, and what’s not used of the spent grains goes to a local farmer to use as livestock feed.

Jessica Phillips-Harris, Senior Manager for Wales at the British Business Bank said:“Companies like Flowerhorn Brewery are the reason why the Start Up Loans programme exists – to support entrepreneurs with big ambitions and innovative sustainable ideas, who lack the initial financial capital to get things moving.

“Andrew and Arran have big plans and have already demonstrated growth during their successful first three years in business, which is why the Bank was happy to support them with a second Start Up Loan. We wish them every success with their plans to increase production and open a new bar in Cardiff – we can’t wait to see what happens next for them.”

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