There Are Now Scottish Bonds That Pay in Beer

Shop local, invest in the bond market, get a little tipsy: Edinburgh’s own Innis & Gunn is offering you the opportunity to enjoy all three at once.

In an effort to raise funds that will go towards building a nearby brewery, the craft beer company is currently issuing BeerBonds. They’re a real thing – they’re even trademarked. By offering the bonds, Innis & Gunn is asking investors to essentially front the money needed to build, in exchange for a yearly payout. After identifying the southern Scotland site of the future brewery in question, the company launched their mini-bonds (kind of like a half pint?) as a way to glean capital from their lager-loving community.

Not to be confused with beer bongs, the investment model is a much gentler and potentially lucrative brand of booze-related activity. Innis & Gunn’s sales are steadily increasing; in September, the company announced that year-over-year results had risen by 30%.

I&G is hoping to raise £3 million to help establish its own brewing space. “We could have gone to a bank,” say the owners via their website, “but would rather pay you, our fans, interest instead.”

The four-year BeerBonds will be available until 1 pm on 16 June and will offer a rate of 7.25% interest per annum for investments starting at £500 – that is, if you choose to be compensated in the regular ol’ UK currency.

As their name suggests, BeerBonds can also be cashed in for limited-edition brews and Toasted Oak IPAs: you can get paid in beer. Those opting to be rewarded in BeerBucks will receive the higher return rate of 9%.

While the bonds might seem like a fantasy of frat-boys-turned-financiers, Innis & Gunn’s investment plan follows a well-established and successful precedent. In recent years especially, alternative-return bonds have found willing investors in industries from Mexican food to music. Last summer, London’s Chilango raised £2.2 million by offering patrons the opportunity to invest via ‘burrito bonds’. With stats similar to the BeerBond (a four-year mini-bond with a £500 minimum investment), the burrito bond doubled the amount it aimed to make. Chilango spiced up the offer by extending a free weekly burrito to investors who gave £10,000 or more. Confectioner Hotel Chocolat took things one step further by shunning cold hard cash altogether: its 7.33% interest bond only pays in hot chocolate and the like.

England’s Wasps rugby club also entered the finance fray this spring, launching a seven-year bond which it hopes will return around £35 million. That investment in particular was made lower-risk by being backed by assets such as the team’s Coventry stadium.

Despite the playful edge, bonds that pay via tasty treats are as chancy as any other investment. Innis & Gunn is careful to note in the BeerBond application that your capital may be at risk . . .

. . . as will your sobriety.

Marisa Campbell