Big Bear launches crowdfund for cider mill to take it into the big league

Drinks: Ciders, Drinks
Location: England, UK
Other: Business

The original ‘Big Bear’ Mark Hughes

Today, artisan cidermaker Big Bear is launching a crowdfunding campaign to fund its new production facility, which’ll increase its capacity from under 20,000 litres to over a million litres per annum.

Founders Mark and Kathryn Hughes began producing their 100% apple ciders for friends and family five years ago, before demand led them to go professional. Working with Ciderologist and Imbibe’s Educator of the Year Gabe Cook, they currently use 19 different varieties of apple, use no pesticides and have a major focus on sustainability.

Based in Essex, Big Bear’s orchards represent an agricultural restoration. The land was historically used for cider orchards, but these were ripped up in the ‘60s and replaced with gravel pits used to build the A12 motorway. Tongue firmly wedged in cheek, the family named one of its ciders Essex Gold, as gravel is colloquially known in the area.

Having reached 42% of its target of £30,000 in pre-sales on Crowdcube, the money will be used to build a 10,000sq ft facility and introduce a canning line. If the campaign overfunds, the project will be extended to include a taproom overlooking the orchard on the first floor of the facility.

‘Currently we do keg and bag-in-box, but with the new facility we’ll be able to introduce cans,’ co-founder Kathryn Hughes told Imbibe. ‘Environmentally speaking, they’re lightweight to transport and infinitely recyclable, and I think with the branding and logo they’re better suited to the millennial bunch.’

Big Bear is predominantly on-trade at present, with its kegs costing around £80 to £90, or £3 per litre.

Imbibe Live 2018 While you’re here…

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If you don’t already know, Imbibe Live is the innovative and interactive annual exhibition for anyone who sources, buys or serves drinks in the licensed on-trade. From sommeliers to buyers and from managers to publicans and bartenders, this essential date in the drinks calendar will see the industry’s finest come together.
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