A BREWERY which specialises in handcrafted ale has gone from selling to wholesalers to dealing with pubs, shops and even garden centres as part of its expansion.

The Great North Eastern Brewing Company, based on Wellington Road in Gateshead, was established in September 2015 by Paul Minnikin, who was inspired to set up the business due to his passion for traditional ales with support from his sons.

GNEB brews a variety of beer including Claspers Citra Blonde, Styrian Blonde, Hopnicity and its popular Rivet Catcher– an ale with North East industrial heritage.

The beer was originally sold directly to wholesalers or to the public through an on-site shop and live music venue The Brewery Tap.

After seeing the potential in unlocking new markets, the brewery approached Business Enterprise Fund for help increase the business offering and secured a £35,000 loan to expand.

Mr Minnikin, the managing director whose background is in finance, said: “The loan from BEF has enabled us to expand into new markets by introducing a kegging system, meaning we can sell an impressive number of kegs to trade. The support from BEF has also allowed us to implement a bottling line so our cash flow has improved significantly as we previously outsourced this.

"We’ve gone from selling to wholesalers in the North East to working with pubs, shops and even garden centres across the country.

“The loan has also helped us secure a Safe and Local Supplier Approval Beer Standard accreditation which demonstrates quality to our suppliers and expands our offering to supermarkets."

He praised the efficiency of BEF and the support of investment manager Doug Heseltine.

The Business Enterprise Fund is a social enterprise specialising in providing funds to SME businesses across the North and is committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals including reducing inequalities and making post-industrial areas more sustainable.

Mr Heseltine said: “The fantastic Northern spirit is the backbone of this company and the determination to appeal to wider markets is refreshing. The transformation from previously just selling to the North East to now selling all across the country is phenomenal. We have every faith that the Rivet Catcher following will live on thanks to The Great North Eastern Brewing Company."