Start-up Brique House brews beer and millions

At first glance, it’s a huge bar restaurant with a terrace and extending tables. But the official name of the place is “taproom”. A place where a brewery sells its own beers. The concept, from the United States, seems to work wonderfully for Brick House. Established for four years in a corner of an old disused factory in Saint-André, in the metropolis of Lille, surrounded by bricks and buried at the bottom of a huge parking lot, the Brique House taproom does not look like much.

However, with every ray of sunshine, it is shielded. The place quickly found a specific clientele among other trendy places like the Hall u Need which focuses on indoor games. So much so that the northern start-up has just raised record funds for a brewery of this size: 3.7 million in ten days, paid by individuals and investors (between 750 and 100,000 euros each).

A holding company with 1,300 shareholders

In all, 1,300 new shareholders are joining the community of this very ambitious SAS (simplified joint stock company). “We created a holding company to bring together these 1,300 shareholders,” explains 20 minutesBaptiste Dufossez who co-founded Brique House four years ago with Joseph Timmermans.

“This fundraising should make it possible to accelerate the development of Brique House by increasing production capacities in order to meet strong demand in recent months and by launching the franchise in order to accelerate the openings of Brique House taprooms” , specifies a press release from the start-up.

In 2021, this brewery had already raised funds from investors before launching, a year later, a participatory investment operation to borrow more than two million euros over 36 months. At the same time, new “taprooms” are flourishing under different names, in the metropolis of Lille, but also in Paris and Bordeaux. A sixth should see the light of day in Reims at the end of May.

New beers every month

“We are going to rename them all Brique House to harmonize everything,” announces Baptiste Dufossez who is enjoying this success story. “This proves to us once again that nothing is impossible even though four years ago there were still two of us in a garage”

The secret ? The creation of new beers every month with a design inspired by the Belgian company Brussels Bier Project with the aim of breaking the traditional image of the brewery. But this frenetic sequence of recipes last year damaged the image of Brique House on social networks.

A campaign ” Balance your start-up » on Instagram had seen flourish the testimonies of certain employees denouncing beers sold at incorrect alcohol levels, or even sometimes adulterated beers. “Pure lies”, denies Baptiste Dufossez who recognizes that “beers do not always meet expectations, but that is part of research and development”.

“A hell of an explosion internally”

At the same time, Brique House also had to face an avalanche of criticism on certain managerial methods : harassment, pressure, sexism… “A hell of an explosion internally, but saving for us, recognizes Baptiste Dufossez today. I’d rather this happened six months ago than in a few years when our company will have gained more weight. »

The manager claims to have learned his lesson. “There were behavioral problems: two people were dismissed,” he admits, before certifying that “an anonymous internal survey carried out since then showed the satisfaction of eight out of ten employees”.

Since then, he has affirmed that there is a “whistleblower with an outsourced line which guarantees the anonymity of complaints” and that “a works council must be elected in a few days” to represent the 250 employees of the company. a company where there is significant turnover.

“A marketing side that displeases purists”

“We are far from the craft side [bière artisanale] claimed, underlines a beer specialist who prefers to remain anonymous. There is a desire to be everywhere on the beer market and a marketing side that displeases purists. »

Still, the leader continues to dream big. For the moment, the alignment of finances, if not that of the planets, is there and proves right the two founders who do not forget where they come from.

A few days after the official opening of the first “taproom” in Saint-André, the first confinement cooled their enthusiasm. “It was complicated,” remembers Baptiste Dufossez. But the success of the first two weeks of operation, before March 17, 2020, convinced us that the project was good. »

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