UPDATE: In January 2019 Caulier announced that the “first operation operation for non-Sugar Artisanal beer enthusiasts” had hoped to raise €500,000. “To our surprise, your favorite beer was supported by more than 350 underwriters for an amount of €740,000. Happy beneficiaries have already received their welcome pack!”
Original article begins:
Caulier Sugar Free has launched a second round of ‘crowdlending’ offering unlisted 4-year bonds for €50 each with an annual return of 8%. The company, whose brands includes Caulier, 28, and runs Brasserie 28 series of brewpubs is in a joint partnership with Italian brewer Toccalmatto.
The first round of Caulier’s initial offer of €500,000 was oversubscribed in less than one minute on www.Look&Fin.be. Caulier new offer is now reopened from 7 Nov 19h to 30 Nov for a maximum of €200,000.
Billing itself as the “only low carb craft brewery in the world” selling above 17,000 htl, the brewery plans to use the €500,000 in funds raised to expand upon its existing beer range and brewing capacity. This includes €300,000 for its Brewery Fidenza, Italy where the company increased the fermentation capacity with new fermenters. This was initially financed through a leasing. The bond money will be used to pay back the leasing.
Also at the Fidenza brewery another €100,000 is earmarked for a new laboratory for quality analysis and €40,000 will be spent on a barrels aging room. The brewer is moving its barrels to the old brewery of Toccalmatto. This will boost
aging capacity and serve as a place to hold tasting events.
Future spending also includes:
- Brussels, Tours & Taxi, Belgium (€100,000): the company has entered into a partnership with Extensa to build a 20,000 htl brewing capacity and needs to finance the feasibility studies;
- finance the growth of Toccalmatto (€400,000);
- open three new Brasserie 28 brewpubs in Mexico, Brussels and Rome in 2019 (€900,000) and “consolidate sales” at its 7 gastro pubs and 4 restaurants in Italy and Belgium.
In addition to the 8% return investors in 1-28 bonds receive 5% off at its bars and 10% off online, €10 of ‘beer bucks’, a membership card for the discounts, invitations to bar openings and access to small-batch brews. Those who invest in 28-200 bonds receive 10% off in-bar and 20% off online, a free birthday celebration of food and drink at one of the bars (up to 8% of the sum invested), and membership in its club delivering a mix of Toccalmatto and 28 branded beers six times a year to your home.
Above 200 bonds you also get a home brewery kit, a discovery trip with Toccalmatto’s founder in Italy. For an investment of €20,000 you also get the right to a private cellar at the closest 28 bar.
Background and a bit of a gripe
The company opened its first Brasserie 28 in 2017 in Flaminia, Rome. It has raised about €13.2 million in equity through private investors over the past 5 years. It reported proforma revenues of about €7 million in 2017 (€3.9 milion in 2016) and net income of €86,700 on a gross margin of €4,288,700. It currently has 150 employees.
Should you invest? That is up to you if you want the benefits, remembering that the company is unlisted and other bond holders come before you.
All I can tell you is that Beer Idiots’ experiences at the Brussels bar in Gare Centrale is sometimes good but mostly bad: the staff there sometimes (not all) have a casual attitude to its customers and at least one manager has a supercilious attitude.
In one case, this manager forgot to give this Beer Idiot the happy hour discount of a free additional beer (when they had happy hour) and then refused to make good on his error until after a long, patient argument from me. I know of friends who have stopped going there because of the slow service, even during slow times. For me, that is a warning sign that they need to pay more attention to customers in their bars – or people will go to the many other offerings elsewhere.
The organic food is expensive but good and in keeping with Brussels prices at a good location. The live music is also very attractive. Overall it is a good traveller stop-over for a quick beer and an alternative to Brewdog around the corner. It will take me some time though, before I go back after three less then stellar experiences and reports from other beer lovers.
Another bad sign is that the prices have gone up to extraordinary levels for what is mostly ordinary tasting beer. This is a sad, but ongoing trend in the craft beer/independent market as newcomers try to cash in on the novelties produced by the pioneers. Consumers are paying the piper right now; but how long will this craze last until the shakeout?
Brewers like Caulier are betting they will be the ones to survive. To be true, Caulier is hedging its bets through going for low-carb beers to target health conscious yuppies who have a taste for organic foods. This could well be an under-exploited niche for consumers who might not be the crazy beer nerd types but occasionally want to join in the fun.
The founder is Eric Coppieters, who previously founded Deminor (1989-1999), then became a major shareholder in Le Pain Quotidien (1999-2006). The other join-venture partner is Bruno Carilli, brew master and founder of Italian brewer Birra Toccalmatto. Caulier and Birra Toccalmatto joined forces in 2017 after a few collaboration brews.
Birra Toccalmatto has a production capacity of 20,000 hl but currently only brews about 5,000 hl of its own beers. Caulier sells about 10,000 hl of beer, with 6,000 hl being sold in Italy and the rest in Belgium. Before the new agreement, Cauliers beer was exclusively brewed by De Proefbrouwerij, a contract brewery in Lochristi near Ghent, Belgium.
After the installation of new fermenting tanks in the next months, production of Cauliers, which is sold in Italy, will be transferred to Birra Toccalmatto. De Proefbrouwerij will continue to brew 3-4,000 hl for the Benelux market.
Carilli is responsible for the technical side of the business. Coppieters is responsible for the international expansion of the business.
Coppieters bought the defunct and traditional Caulier beer brand in 2007 and and established the company Caulier Sugar Free to produce beer without sweeteners, colorants and preservatives according to the original recipes from 1842.
Caulier is named after the family who operated breweries from 1842 to 1873 and united three brewers in 1888. In 1895, the name Brasserie Caulier was registered, with brewing operations and administration being in rue Henry in Brussels. In 1960, the brewery became SA Brasserie de Ghlin and moved to Ghlin, a village about 70 km southwest of Brussels, where a brand new brewery was erected.
The brewery went bankrupt in the seventies. Brouwerij Artois, Stella Artois and Piedboeuf, brewer of Jupiller, to take over operations through SA Brassico, which invested in Ghlin to produce the brand Jupiler 5. All but one brand of the former Brasserie Caulier was ceased. After the merger of Artois and Piedboeuf in 1988, which was the founding stone of AB InBev, the two partners closed down the brewery in Ghlin in 1993.
Until 2007 the Caulier brand rights were held by Brasserie Caulier, a family owned craft brewery from Péruwelz, Belgium at the heart of Picard Wallonia. The latter brewery was reestablished in 1995 by Roger Caulier. In 2007, this brewery went bankrupt and brands rights changed hands to Eric Coppieters, who founded the company Caulier Sugar Free.
Caulier Sugar Free main brand is 28, an old brand from Caulier in Brussels, which used to be brewed with 28 kilograms of grain per hectoliter.