Start-up craft brewery moves launch forward with £75k investment

Amity Brew Co Co-Founder Russ Clarke

As lockdown lifts, a new craft brewery has secured £75,000 of funding to launch an online shop and brewpub at a iconic landmark mill in Leeds.

Amity Brew Co has signed a 10 year lease at Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley, following an injection of £50,000 from the Business Enterprise Fund, which has previously supported the likes of Northern Monk and Leeds Brewery and an additional £25,000 investment from family.

Despite pubs and breweries being hit hard by lockdown, co-founder and director of Amity Brew, Russ Clarke has moved the brands launch forward – with its core range of beers, including a “helles” lager, an extra special bitter and an American pale ale now available to buy online.

This move Clarke, who gained experience of the industry at at BrewDog, North Brewing Co and Beer Hawk, hopes will to enable Amity to start to building a community locally and within the craft beer scene before physically opening doors in the autumn.

He said, “Launching a business post Covid-19 really adds the pressure on but we’ve been heartened to see how the local community has rallied together and we feel the brewpub is exactly what the community will embrace at this time. We are adaptable and nimble enough to make sure that our plans can quickly change according to any government restrictions that might be passed in the future as we all adapt to the world with Covid-19.”

John Gaunt, joint managing director of mill owners Edwin Woodhouse and Co Ltd, said: ”We are really excited to welcome Amity Brew Co to Sunny Bank Mills. Just as the mill was home to manufacturing some of the best cloth in the world, we can’t wait to see Amity Brew Co brewing and selling high quality craft beers at Sunny Bank Mills. Amity Brew Co will be a superb addition to the Mill community, complementing Grumpy’s and The Mill Kitchen and making it an even more attractive place to visit and work.

“Sunny Bank, one of the most famous family-owned mills in Yorkshire, has been transformed into a 21st century business centre. The mill has been extensively renovated to provide quality space within an environment steeped in heritage for small and medium-sized businesses in West Yorkshire. Altogether 70 companies are now on site, creating 350 new and sustainable jobs.”

Business Enterprise Fund’s Start Up Loans Manager, Julie Micklethwaite, said: “We are proud to have a legacy of supporting Yorkshire breweries over the years including Leeds Brewery and Northern Monk. The Amity Brew Co plan of maximising ecommerce to gain loyalty and brand recognition is a great model in the post-Covid world. We’re delighted to support new businesses get off the ground in this challenging economy.”

With a launch date for the brewpub of Autumn, Clarke is working with local businesses including Wetherby-based Design Tonic -known for its work with Sarto, Headingley Stadium and the Masons Gin School and Distillery – to design and fit out the venue.

In an attempt to prepare for a post pandemic world, the design has been influenced by Covid-19, with social distancing at its heart, including no seats at the bar, a one way system, maximising outdoor space and ensuring the tables and chairs can be easily moved.