Woolwich’s Hop Stuff Brewery has gone into administration and been sold to beer giant Molson Coors, leaving local drinkers who invested in the company in its early days out of pocket.
The company, which was founded in the Royal Arsenal in 2013, hit financial problems earlier this year after it failed to declare a move to a new brewery in Thamesmead to the Inland Revenue, forcing it to temporarily stop production.
After seeing off a winding-up order from a company which said it had not been paid for work on a bar in Ashford, Kent, the Thamesmead brewery, on White Hart Avenue, was repossessed by its landlord.
Administrators from KPMG were appointed to run the company on Friday, with the company’s assets – including its Taproom bars in Woolwich, Deptford and Ashford, its brewery and its brand – sold to Molson Coors, which owns Carling lager and Sharp’s, the Cornish brewery behind Doom Bar ale.
The company’s investors – many of whom were local to Woolwich – will receive nothing from the sale, which came a month after the company’s Twitter account announced: “Nearly there with something great for Hop Stuff!” One of the founders of the company, James Yeomans, set up a new company, JY Advisory Ltd, in March, while Hop Stuff was in turmoil, according to Companies House records. His wife, Emma Yeomans, who founded the company with him, resigned from Hop Stuff in April.
“I am so sorry,” James Yeomans wrote in an email sent to investors on Friday. “I wanted so much to turn the passion you have for Hop Stuff Brewery into a financial win for you and I am absolutely gutted that hasn’t happened.
“I want to thank you so much for your belief in us. You have helped to build this business and I want to make sure that you continue to feel a part of it. For my part, I am absolutely committed to protecting the ethos of Hop Stuff and our brands and I am completely confident that Molson Coors share that commitment.
“In Molson Coors we’ve found a partner who believes wholeheartedly that craft beer should be accessible, inclusive and of exceptionally high and consistent quality. With their support and guidance, we are going to be able to start brewing again and be able to supply our customers in London. Hop Stuff beers won’t disappear.”
Hop Stuff began with the aim of brewing ale for festivals, opening with £58,000 raised from investors through the investment platform Crowdcube. Many of its initial investors were from the Woolwich and Plumstead areas. It rode the craft beer boom on the back of crowdfunding appeals – and last year it raised over £770,000 for further expansion. In total, it has raised over £1.5m from investors.
Yeomans added: “I would completely understand if you wanted to wash your hands of us, but I very much hope that you don’t. If you’d like to remain a part of our journey, together with Molson Coors, we will be launching a Hop Stuff Collective for original investors who would like to stay involved.
“Members of the Collective will receive exclusive access to key events throughout the year, a product subscription, discounts and be invited to be part of New Product Development through quarterly tastings and innovation sessions at the brewery.”
Plans for a fourth Taproom bar, in east Greenwich, were abandoned last August after Greenwich Council refused to give it a licence for outdoor drinking, after a hearing in which Yeomans emphasised the company’s local roots.