Brighton has a strong craft beer culture
Brighton was made for craft beer. The city is built on a spirit of independence, individuality and experimentation that the craft beer movement encapsulates perfectly. As a result Brighton has a strong craft beer culture built up around excellent bottle shops and local brewers who are putting the area on the craft beer map. Craft beer is gradually working its way into our supermarkets and off licences, but you will only find those really special beers in specialist retailers or direct from the brewers. As craft beer steadily challenges traditional alcoholic beverages in terms of variety and complexity getting advice from someone in the know really is the best way to enjoy a crafty beer or two.
Beercraft is a 100 litre pilot brewery based out of The Watchmakers Arms in Hove brewing modern beer styles available in keg and cask. Head Brewer Jack Tavaré has designed the kit to explore different beer styles and experiment with brewing techniques to make the best beer possible, releasing them in small batches to the best beer bars & pubs in Brighton.
The summer brew schedule focuses on pales, IPAs and session IPAs with most being featured at Brighton Brewers market (more on this below). The Autumn schedule will move more towards darker styles with Browns, Porters and Dunkelweizen (a dark German style wheat beer) to name a few. The overall aim of the brewery is to develop a range of house beers to gypsy brew large quantities out of a local brewery, probably being the Hand in Hand, for release into more local bars and pubs. Look out for the beers in The Watchmakers Arms, Hand in Hand, Brighton Beer Dispensary and BrewDog Brighton.
As mentioned above the Brighton Brewers Market is a monthly brewers pop up in Yardy behind Marwood’s Café on Ship Street. Jack and Rhys from Brighton Bier came up with the idea to celebrate Brighton’s vibrant brewing and bar community and the Brewers Market was born. Often featuring special collaborations between local pubs and brewers this is the place for craft connoisseurs looking for a one of special edition. Taking place on the first Saturday of the month between July and September they open at 12pm and close at 10pm or when the beer runs out. There is street food from a variety of local vendors and live DJ’s to party to not forgetting the special beer tap piano named Margaux.
In just over a year of trading, Bison Beer have achieved a great deal. Almost synonymous with the Brighton craft beer movement this bottle shop with big ideas have been working tirelessly to bring great beer to the people of Brighton. Regularly stocking over 300 bottles and cans their ever changing range has got it all. If that was not enough they also have their keg taps where you can buy take away bottles or restock your personalised growler to enjoy on the beach or at home.
When they are not helping launch a new craft beer brand; producing their own beers to sell at restaurants and bars in the city; or supporting local sporting teams; the Bison guys can be found saving a formerly derelict pub from the clutches of corporate death and breathing new life into it through the crowd funded Bison Arms. This exciting new development in the Bison story just shows some of the ambition and drive behind the brand. If they carry on at this rate then Bison Beer will become a fantastic ambassador for the city.
If Dark Star are Brighton’s original brewing success story, then Brighton Bier have got to be considered the current one. What started out in 2012 as a gypsy brewing project at the Hand in Hand brewpub in Kemptown has grown to a 7,500 litre per week brewery. Despite this growth they have remained true to their Brighton roots and within the city limits. Their goal was to put Brighton back on the brewing map and judging by their recent awards they are certainly doing so. Not only did they win a gold at the International Beer Challenge for their 4% “Brighton Bier” pale ale in 2015 but have now added two more golds and a bronze in 2016 for their “Downtown Charlie Brown”, “Cyclops Eyedrops” and “Choccywoccybrew-ha” respectively. Most exciting of all the “Downtown…” won best UK Experimental Beer and is into the World final.
In just four years this proud Brighton brewery has achieved a great deal and played a pivotal role in the Brighton brewing revival. Due to the size of the brewery they do not currently offer tours but you can order direct through their website www.brightonbier.com or head over to the Brighton Beer Dispensary where you can find most of their beers to sample. Brighton Bier are certainly flying the flag for Brighton’s craft scene and doing a damn fine job of it.
Born in the cellar of The Evening Star pub back in 1994, Dark Star have been one of Brighton’s biggest brewing successes to date. From these humble beginnings the popularity of their beers has taken them outside of the city limits to their current site in Partridge Green. It all started with one beer, the aptly named “Dark Star Original”, which went on to be champion beer of Britain. Since then the range has expanded to six main brews and seasonal specials. Not wanting to be left behind by the competition they have also kegged, canned and bottled their beers to go alongside the traditional cask offerings.
The Evening Star is still the best place to enjoy a pint of Dark Star in the city with The Wellington in Shoreham on an equal footing. The Brewery shop is open Mon-Sat and is well worth a visit to experience the full range and purchase something special to take home. Not bad going for something that started as a home brew project devised on the back of the beer mat and inspired by the music of The Grateful Dead.
The Hand brew Co is the 5 barrel (approx 800 litre) brewery in the Hand in Hand pub in Kemptown, formerly operating as The Kemptown Brewery. With new ownership it was decided to give the brewery a fresh start as The Hand Brew Co and make great beer to put us on the Brighton beer map again.
After having not been operational since Brighton Bier stopped gypsy brewing there some 18 months ago the kit was up and running again at the beginning of August. A core range of cask ales will be developed to be served predominantly at the Hand and a few select pubs round Brighton & Hove. There are plans for the future to install some new pressure tanks in the cellar to allow kegging to take place and serve fresh tank beer straight to the bar. It is great to have this piece of Brighton’s brewing history back in action and it should be one to follow in the coming months.
- Check out their website
Where Dark Star could be considered Brighton’s original craft brewery; and Brighton Bier the latest success story; Lost and Found are certainly the newest. Having only launched in August of 2016 they are just starting to find their feet in the craft brewing world. They have a very simple and straightforward ethos – to make the best contribution to the industry that they can through the pursuit of excellence in everything they do. The brewery is essentially an R&D brewery that utilise the freshest and ethically sourced ingredients to brew pilot batches. Those that are too good not to share then go on to be commercially brewed in slightly larger batches. They are very serious about their brewing and the quality of what they produce, but also know that they need to have some fun along the way as well.
Currently the range consists of a Golden Pale Ale and American Pale ale with plans for something a little richer for the winter months. Head over to their website www.lostandfoundbrewery.com for a list of stockist and updates on this new and exciting brewery.
There are few places where you can enjoy a pint in the very same building it was created in – The North Laine pub and Brewery is one such place. Situated on Gloucester Rd in Central Brighton this brewery/pub/shop has been operating for the last 4 years, establishing itself as one of the top beer destinations in the city. With around eight of their own beers on tap at any time plus guest beers and ciders there is plenty to choose from. Once you have discovered your favourite you can also purchase a growler from the bar to take home with you.
The North Laine is also the current home to Brewtorial the home brewing masterclass. Started by two beer loving professionals they can teach you everything you need to know in order to become the next brewing superstar – or at least get you started on your journey. Keep an eye out for their excellent Logic Engine APA that pops up across the city for a taste of what you could learn.
Trafalgar wines have the honour of being Brighton’s original bottle shop. Stocking a vast array of beer based bounty since 1983 they have been serving the community for longer than many craft beer drinkers have been drawing air. With no beards or tattoos in sight, this place may not have the image that many associate with the craft beer movement. What they do have is a selection of beers that will make your head spin (quite literally) and a cat.
A veritable treasure trove of beers, ales, ciders and more; Trafalgar Wines is a place not to be missed. Many have popped in for a quick look and left hours later with a bag full of delights and perhaps a rather bored looking partner in tow. This is a place not to be missed and is definitely one that you will return to once you have experienced it for yourself.