How Purity co-founder Paul Halsey and his team have created award-winning brewing with a conscience
When Paul Halsey and James Minkin co founded Purity Brewing in 2005, the idea of craft beer barely existed. “We wanted to modernise cask beer,” explains CEO Paul Halsey. “We wanted to create beer that was a modern interpretation of beer.”
By “modern interpretation” the founders meant consistent quality and a sustainable approach to brewing – approaches that may be commonplace today – but were trailblazing back then. “It was really important that we found a location that was farm-based, we needed a farmer who was looking for a diversification project,” explains Paul.
After a year of searching, they found the person they needed and built the brewery in Great Alne, Warwickshire – now they just needed to sell their creations. “The first year turned out to be slower than we expected. I thought I could rely on my reputation in the industry but, actually, the beer needed to prove itself.”
To up their game, they brought in Flo Vialan, a highly experienced brewer who’s still with the business today. Flo’s expertise raised both the quality of the beer and its consistency, and by year three sales were booming. By year five, Purity Brewing had released three beers, won several awards, and was producing 16,000 hectolitres of beer annually.
“We were at maximum capacity in the brewery, and we knew this was the moment to either invest in a new brewery or maximise our margins and enjoy a good lifestyle business – we chose to invest.”
Reluctant to take on outside investment, for fear of losing equity and control of the business, Paul financed the build of a new, start-of-the-art brewery through cash flow and a bank grant – with the cost coming in at around £2 million over the course of two years.
A few years later – with the new brewery up and running and business booming – the time came for more funding. This time, Paul did consider outside investment.
“I didn’t think that private equity was right for the business, but after meeting with the team at BGF, I saw a different side to it,” explains the entrepreneur. “They were offering patient capital and a very light touch – that just floated my boat!”
Since receiving the £7.5 million investment from BGF in August 2018, Paul has “upweighted the board” considerably – which has been great for business. “I’ve now got much better support around me, and I’ve had some really good introductions into other BGF-invested businesses too. I’m very entrepreneurial and creative, so I was nervous of them subduing that side of my business, but it’s been the complete opposite.”