Northamptonshire microbrewery saved from going under thanks to grant

Graeme Swanson
Graeme Swanson

One of Northamptonshire’s oldest microbreweries has been rescued from closure thanks to a vital boost in funding.

Frog Island Brewery, which began producing beer in Northampton in 1994, received a £2,000 grant from FEAST (Food Enterprise Advisory Support Team) – a cash injection which owner Graeme Swanson says rescued it from certain closure.

"I bought the business a year ago because, as an ale enthusiast, I really valued the heritage of this wonderful company and wanted to secure its future for the town,” said Mr Swanson.

“But last summer, after a few expensive hiccoughs, I was about to lock the cellar door for the last time when I heard about the FEAST project, applied for the grant and was accepted and that enabled me to purchase the new equipment I needed to continue brewing.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say that the funding and support I’ve received through FEAST has been life-saving, as this place would have sunk without it” he added.

FEAST, a project part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, is aimed at supporting eligible food and drink manufacturers across the SEMLEP area (covering Northamptonshire) through grants, technical support and business mentoring.

The £2,000 grant awarded to Frog Island helped buy two fermentation tanks and a smaller brewing vessel.

This allowed the continued production of its heritage beers – Croak & Stagger, Natterjack, Shoemaker and Best – and handed Mr Swanson, who sees himself simply as having "stewardship" of the brand, the opportunity to add to the range.

With one new beer already in the pipeline, more to follow and plans to double his capacity, Mr Swanson is looking forward to taking advantage of the next cycle of funding and is urging other food and drink businesses to follow suit:

“Far from being complicated and time-consuming, the grant application process was really simple and I got the good news that I’d been successful within days, so I’d encourage everyone to ensure that they don’t miss out,” said Mr Swanson.

FEAST is worth £7.1 million and will receive a further £3.5 million in funding from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

It is being led by The Mallows Company, with support from Moulton College, the University of Northampton and Central Bedfordshire Council.

The scheme has already seen more than £100,000 distributed in grants to 22 companies across SEMLEP, while many more businesses have received tailored mentoring and technical support, including expertise on changes to legislation and product shelf life.

For more details, including registering your business for the free project, please contact Amanda at The Mallows Company on 01933 664437 or email amanda@themallowscompany.com.