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Island brewery stabilisation

£585 of £140,000 goal

Raised by 11 people in 5 months
Hello, We are the Hebridean Brewing Company Ltd based in Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. We are the only brewery in the entire Western Isles and the first legal commercial producer of alcohol in the Outer Hebrides.

We really need your help.


In 2014, the Hebridean Brewing Co Ltd was formed to relaunch the original Hebridean Brewing Co., founded in 2001, which was forced to close due to severe ill health of the original owner - our son, Andy Ribbens .

I, Tina Ribbens, became director putting my husband's and my life savings into the relaunch, together with loans from other family and friends financing the business. We relocated the brewery into our current location, named The Edge O’the World. This new premises houses our brewery, our new Ale house/visitor centre, the retail shop, and the third phase - a back packer hostel yet to be completed.

Our strategy was to brew and supply locally during the busier periods and concentrate on the building work required to open the bar/ visitor side during the winter, building a stable basis to trade from, with the building itself supporting the brewing operation. Our ultimate goal is to buy the building and to develop the third phase in the upper level.

We were assured of grants and loans from the local business gateway but these failed to materialize. Many delays have hit us with getting the brewery fully operational with our plans being set back well over two years predominantly through Council planning and building control intransigence.

In March 2017 just as we had our plans finally signed off for the Edge O’the World ale house and brewery visitor centre and got this side of the business trading, HMRC introduced AWRS (Alcohol Wholesalers Registration Scheme). The intention of this regulation was to stop the illegal import and illegal wholesale of alcohol. However, it seems to have been used to curtail small breweries and other small wholesalers; we have supplied wholesale since the original brewery was launched. Over 1700 licences to supply wholesale have been rejected and we were one of these. The reasons are spurious to say the least and the appeals process takes over a year.  In one fell swoop our core business was removed by the decision of a single junior officer. An appeal was lodged immediately and our lawyer (also representing double figure other brewers’ appeals) was employed. He has informed us that of all those on his books we have the strongest case to be reintated. There is no permission to trade wholesale whilst the appeal goes through and as stated this process is long and therefore leaves us in limbo, unable to plan the future or give our customer base any inkling of if and when we can supply them. All our HMRC submissions are 100% accurate and no false declarations have been made.

The Edge O’the World Ale House has traded for 9 months, as ironically we are still allowed to retail our own products. This our only source of income at present; this was only meant to be a supplement to the core business - the brewing and supply of our award winning ales to business customers. We have had to stop supply to all customers and turn away many seeking out new supply. This has meant everything from supermarkets, ferries through to hotels and pubs remaining unsupplied. Businesses and people who have been loyal customers for many years have had to be told we can’t supply. All income ceased.

We are confident of winning the appeal and getting our AWRS granted but due to the length of time of the appeals process with no income we are struggling. Loans are now being called in where we cannot service them and debts mounting.

Once we win our appeal we will make a claim for compensation against the losses incurred, but again, this will be a long process.

This year everything was in place to operate fully for the first time and to start building that stable base from which to expand. We have stuck at this in a belief of what we want to achieve.

This is a family run business which was set up to create local employment, we are in it to make a living and not a killing and want to put as much back into the local community as we possibly can. Our family was forced to move away from the island in the 50s due to lack of employment. My son moved back to the croft and family home which my father left him to start a business which would be ethical and achieve this goal.  All brewing and bottling is carried out in Stornoway and our award winning ales are made by traditional full mash methods.

The Edge O’the World Ale house has been a great success and our Facebook page has received 100% 5 star reviews since opening. Both organised Ceilidhs and impromptu music sessions help create an oasis of relaxed enjoyment. You can view the brewery whilst enjoying our ales, watching us make the beer you are drinking. 

Our ethos is that alcohol should only be part of the experience, so we also supply teas and coffees, free soft drinks to designated drivers, and are both children and dog friendly.  Andy - who is now back to health - returned to be our brew master and to develop the Ale house, retail, and tour parts of the business.

Please check out our Facebook pages:

Edge O’the World Ale House and Visitor Centre and the Hebridean Brewing Company Ltd.

As part of our green outlook, we have a vision of making this the greenest brewery in Britain with a plan to grow organic barley and have a malting on island. We have started to plant a small orchard and will be setting up hives in the near future to produce the first Hebridean mead since the Vikings from locally kept bees.

A continual reinvestment into the business will allow us to start other projects both associated with the brewery and outside, such as a lobster reseeding programme which would benefit inshore local boats. We don’t look to the next 5 years but to the next 15 or 20 to create sustainable, ecologically sound projects to benefit a place we love, to provide secure jobs in our community and to export Island based products further afield.

It is envisioned that each separate entity in the business will support the others; allowing us to also to put back into our community, such as such as sponsoring local sports clubs and providing free accommodation to visiting teams, to encourage and develop sports on the island.

We are looking for the funding to:

·         First - stabilise the business and allow us to fight our appeal.

·         Re employ staff in order to generate sales and produce our fine products

·         To purchase further stock for production of beers and bottling.

·          To allow us to trade wholesale as soon as the AWRS is granted and to give us bottled stock to retail over the tourist season.
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Edge O'the World
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£585 of £140,000 goal

Raised by 11 people in 5 months
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£100
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4 months ago
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5 months ago
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5 months ago
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£100
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5 months ago
£50
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5 months ago
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