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Dave Faragher of Wild Horse Brewing Company

Business Wales spoke to Dave Faragher of Wild Horse Brewing Company in Llandudno, where he gave us an insight into his experiences of starting a business in north Wales.

With the increase in popularity of craft beers across the UK, many micro-breweries have recently started up in Wales.

Business Wales spoke to Dave Faragher of Wild Horse Brewing Company in Llandudno, where he gave us an insight into his experiences of starting a business in north Wales.

What inspired you to start your own brewery?

Emma and I lived in Canada from 2010 to 2014 and that is where our passion (or obsession!) for craft beer began and where I started home-brewing.  My brewing journey started with an IPA kit, which quite surprisingly to us both, turned out pretty well.  The next two kits weren’t great but I then progressed to malt-extract brews and then all-grain brews (brewing from scratch) on our 24th floor Calgary apartment balcony.  The beer improved, our friends liked it and in 2014 I even started winning some medals.  It was our Canadian and US craft beer adventures that really inspired us to return to north Wales (where we both grew up) and start our north American-style craft brewery.

What has been the biggest challenge in setting up a brewery in north Wales, and would you do anything different with hindsight?

Our biggest challenge has probably been raising the funds to finance our new 10-barrel state-the-art brewing system, which is due to arrive and be installed in early 2016.  As a start-up, raising approximately £250,000 for brewery equipment was far more challenging than we initially thought.  We were too high risk for banks and other financial institutions, but have been persistent and after many months we raised the funds we need – as well as putting in all our savings, we raised the money through local private investors, government grants and a government start-up loan.  We are currently brewing on a half-barrel brew-house with 1-barrel fermenters which means a lot of work for a small amount of beer – I’d probably have increased the initial brew-house size a bit!

What is your greatest achievement/proudest moment  (as a business) to date?

It seems a little too early in our business to talk about great achievements (we only started trading in April 2015).  I can’t pick an exact moment but it does make me very proud when someone tells me that our beer is fantastic, or some of the best they’ve tried.  It’s nice to think… I designed that beer, named it, brewed it, bottled it, labelled it and in most cases delivered it!  All 3 of our year-round beers have had amazing reviews, but I would say that it’s the Palomino Pale Ale that gets the most rave reviews, which is probably my personal favourite too.

Can you give us your best marketing advice?

We’re not marketing experts.  Our approach is fairly simple… we love great beer, we love making great beer and we love talking about great beer.  We love chatting to craft beer lovers and homebrewers and have hosted events at the brewery, with our stockists or at fayres and festivals to spread the word about Wild Horse and great craft beer.  We’re also fairly active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and are slowly building a following.   This and word-of-mouth seems to be working for us quite well so far.

Can you offer any top tips for setting up a successful business?

Our primary focus is on quality and I think that together with a passion for what you are doing is fundamental in setting up a successful business.  I also think a solid business plan is a key tool – it’s extremely useful even if it’s just for yourself, but it’s essential if you are trying to get others to (literally) buy in to your business idea.

Did you receive any support with setting up your business?

Trefor Rowlands of Conwy County Council has provided excellent support by helping us to obtain Welsh Government funding.  We were lucky enough to receive a grant through the North West Wales Local Investment Fund earlier this year.  More recently we were approved for a Conwy Business Support Grant which we will be putting towards signage and branding the front of the brewery – this will all start going up very soon.  We have also taken out a Welsh Government start-up loan.

Do you have any plans to develop your business further?

Once the 10-barrel brewery is installed in early 2016, we plan to grow the business fairly rapidly over the next 12-18 months and significantly expand the draught/keg side of our business.  This means getting our beer into a lot more pubs in north Wales, and perhaps beyond!


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