Casks worth more than £20,000 stolen from brewery which revived the Shipstones brand

This post first appeared on Nottingham Post. Read the original article.

The owner of a Nottingham microbrewery has been 'blown away' by a crowdfunding campaign set up after more than £20,000 worth of beer casks were stolen from his yard.

The Little Star Brewery in Basford, which makes the recently-revived Shipstone's beer, had been left facing an uncertain Christmas after a burglary on November 14 in which more than 300 empty casks were stolen.

But in the last few days owner Richard Neale has been surprised and heartened to find out a crowdfunding page had been set up by friends pleading for support from the public to get the company back on its feet.

“In times of adversity it’s amazing how people will rally round,” he said. “I've been totally blown away. It gives you hope when this sort of thing happens. You feel like you've been riding high, things are going well then you get smashed down like this.”

The page on JustGiving has been set up by friends of Mr Neale, led by local man David Thornewill.

Mr Thornewill has written on the page: “As friends of Shipstone's, and huge fans of the beer and its integral part it has had to play in Nottingham’s history, we want to ask for help in raising enough money to help replace the items the thieves got away with.”

Richard Neale of Shipstones Beer company sits among empty pallets after a theft at the brewery

Speaking to the Post, Mr Thornewill, who works in family services at Nottinghamshire County Council, said that he and two friends, local photographer Marcus Holdsworth and business owner Rupert McGowan-Kemp, had decided they needed to do something to help.

“This is what friendship is about,” he said. “We wanted to do the most we could. This kind of thing can make a small businesses go bust. A lot of people are passionate about the brand; people like the beer and the heritage. Fingers crossed, they will help out.”

Little Star Brewery is made up of three people, Mr Neale, Emily Dawson and brewer Patrick Storey. It sits adjacent to the Fox & Crown, a former Shipstone's pub on Church Street, now a tap house for the brewery.

Reviewing CCTV footage from the night of the burglary, Mr Neale noticed a van making three separate journeys to the brewery, and on each occasion four men are seen removing the casks and loading them into the back.

The theft has forced the company to rent casks to be able to fulfil its Christmas orders, and make heavy investments in razor wire, lighting and other security measures, made worse because the business insurance it had taken out will not cover the £20,000 losses.

“It hit us really hard,” said Mr Neil, whose wife is expecting twins.

“It’s costing us a lot of money to rent the casks, and we don’t have £20,000 lying around to buy the new ones we need. But we’re not going to let them beat us. The support has been really fantastic."

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The Little Star was set up on Church Lane in Old Basford just over a year ago, and produces three beers under the Shiptsone brand, a brown ale, a blonde ale, and a bitter.

A Nottinghamshire Police spokesman said: “We received a report of a burglary at the Little Star Brewery adjacent to the Fox & Crown pub on Church Street, Old Basford, which happened between 10.30pm on November 13 and 1.20am on November 14. Enquiries are continuing.

“Anyone who witnessed the incident or has any information is urged to call Nottingham Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”