Not actually owning what you are producing isn’t a new concept, but Gypsy Brewing is allowing brewers to invest their resources into other areas of their company including design, branding and marketing.
One of the most prominent Gypsy Brewers are Mikkeller, owned by Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, this thirteen-year-old business exports beer to 40 countries across the world, from Iceland to Taiwan. Mikkel originally set up Mikkeller so he could continue to pursue his much-loved day job, being a maths and physics teacher, whilst still continuing his passion of brewing. His estranged brother, Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, also went down the Gypsy Brewing route setting up his brand called Evil Twin. Read into that as you will!
Many brewers make the intermediate step from small scale home brewing in their sheds to Gypsy Brewing as it alleviates a number of industry wide barriers to entry. Firstly, there isn’t an initial outlay of capital for premises or equipment, it also allows for a collaborative brewing with other brewers, and thirdly it can be used as a trial for scaling up.
Breweries rent out their unused fermentation space to Gypsy Breweries allowing them to brew their beer, with some offering to form a collaboration. This allows risks to be taken brewing a range of beers that push the boundaries of craft beer and create innovative styles, many of which may not have been otherwise created.
The biggest benefit for the Gypsy Brewery though is avoiding the large initial costs in setting up a brewery, potentially running into the hundreds of thousands of pounds. This allows the brewers to invest the capital into other avenues of the business, including the opening of in-house bars creating additional revenue streams.
Mikkeller now operates over 30 bars around the world, using the capital that may have initially been tied up with overheads of owning and operating of the brewery. Each of the bars has a unique feel and design to them, from the wood panelled intimate watering hole of Mikkeller Torshavn in the North Atlantic Islands to a quiet back alley in Seoul’s Garuso Street district. However, Mikkeller are struggling to keep up with demand, so maybe it’s only a matter of time before they move to the ‘traditional’ route of owning and operating their own in-house brewery.