We’re passionate about supporting local businesses here at Urban Industry. We reckon it’s something that everyone, everywhere should do – whether you’re in a coastal town like we are, or in a metropolis like London. Especially nowadays.
Another thing we’re passionate about is beer; and with so many smaller brewers starting up and making a go of it nowadays, we thought we’d put a spotlight on five that are local to us.
Being based in East Sussex, we’re lucky to have plenty of brewers in the surrounding area, not just a handful – so we’ll follow up this first article with another one in a few weeks’ time.
For now, though, here goes. We’ve linked to their websites as well, so even if you’re not local to the South East, you could treat yourself to an online delivery!
Long Man (Litlington)
(Image courtesy of Long Man)
Starting off just a few miles from our HQ – it would be a glorious hike, actually – is Long Man Brewery, slap bang in the middle of the South Downs, on a farm.
Their core range has everything you’d expect from a decent small brewer, including modern classics like an APA (American pale ale) and a Helles lager, but also the more traditional stuff too, with a bitter, a couple of blonde beers and a dark ale all being permanent fixtures.
The small-batch range keeps new concoctions coming, whether it’s variations on classic pale ales, IPAs and golden ales, or more unusual stuff such as wheat beers, amber ales and porters.
Beer aside, what we love about Long Man is its strong ethos of environmental sustainability. The brewery is partly powered by a 100-strong bank of solar panels; the water comes from underneath the chalk downs (and wastewater is collected and treated for reuse in irrigation); yeast is repitched (recycled) after each use; whole-leaf hops are sourced locally; barley is homegrown in the brewery’s surrounding farmlands; the workforce is mostly local. All sounds great to us!
Under normal (non-Covid) circumstances, you can take an educational tour of the brewery to learn how they make their beers from start to finish – and yep, of course it ends with some tasting. Definitely worth checking out post-pandemic. Our personal favourite beers are their well-established Long Blonde and Golden Hop.
Burning Sky (Firle)
(Image courtesy of Burning Sky)
Burning Sky is another nearby brewer to us (20 minutes down the road), also operating in converted farm buildings. On top of the idyllic scenery that must serve as constant inspiration, Burning Sky has founder Mark Tranter at the helm. A renowned local beer guru, Tranter made his name at the now-huge Dark Star Brewing Company, where he served as head brewer.
Founded in 2013, Burning Sky has already made a name for itself in the South East and beyond, . The ‘Core’ range is established and well-respected, with firm favourites like the Arise pale ale and the Petite Saison, plus an ever-expanding ‘Specials’ (a recent addition to which is an intense 7% IPA called Shake Some Action).
What’s really exciting about Burning Sky is the constant experimentation and exploration. As just one example, they became the first brewer since the 1930s to have a coolship installed, which, long story short, enabled them to brew all kinds of new beers with their own strains of wild yeast.
Have a look at their online shop; we suggest adding at least a few cans of Arise to your basket – possibly the best pint ever on a hot sunny day at home or in the beer garden.
Dark Star (Partridge Green)
(Image courtesy of Dark Star)
As we’ve just mentioned Dark Star, let’s talk about them as well. They’re a pretty big deal nowadays, having recently been acquired by Asahi, and you might have heard of them even if you’re not from this area… Pint of Hophead, anyone?!
Like so many great brands (beer and otherwise), Dark Star happened organically and became ‘a thing’ in the cellar of The Evening Star pub in Brighton. There was no grand scheme behind it all: beer lovers just started brewing the kind of ale they liked. Let’s bear in mind that ales weren’t exactly all the rage in the mid-90s – it was the lager age, if anything – which makes Dark Star’s rise even more impressive.
It all began in 1994, with brewer Rob Jones producing extremely small amounts in that cellar-cum-brewery. Then Jones heard about Mark Tranton’s successful DIY brewing efforts, and invited Tranton to join in 1996, which he did.
In the following five years leading up to 2001, the popularity of Dark Star’s beer – and commercial demand for it – grew so much that they had to acquire new premises, so they had one built in the village of Ansty. Then they outgrew that one and moved to their current home in Partridge Green, with a new capacity of 20,000 barrels per year, which equates to just over 5.75 million pints.
Gun Brewery (Gun Hill)
(Image courtesy of Gun)
Moving back over to our neck of the woods now, Gun Brewery is just 11 miles north of where we are, in the hamlet of Gun Hill (Uckfield being the closest town).
Like many local breweries, the guys at Gun are based on a farm (this one being mixed-use) and have invested time and effort (and money) into overhauling their barn for optimal brewing, with state-of-the-art equipment.
One of the many great things about Gun is that every drop of water that goes into their beer is extracted from a spring beneath the farmland itself. And they don’t use any dodgy chemicals to treat it before use: they put it through a clean micro-filtering process and then UV-treat it, and then it’s safe and good to go.
The core range is about as solid a lineup as you could ask for: three pales, two IPAs, a lager, and bitter and a milk stout. Half of those eight are vegan, too! And three are gluten-free. Quite literally something for all tastes and requirements there. And of course, on top of the core stuff is the specials range, which has featured things like Whisky Imperial Stout, Hoppy Sour and Dunkelweisse, among plenty of others.
Plenty of stuff to fill your basket with and qualify for free delivery…
(Image courtesy of UnBarred)
The fifth and final brewery we’ll highlight in this first article is UnBarred, over in Brighton. As the name suggests, they’re about breaking rules, never mind pushing boundaries.
For instance, the Bueno Shake stout (yep, as in Kinder Bueno) – probably not one for the purists, but great for those who are new to stout or even those who categorically dislike stout. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, there’s the 6% Mango Pale
Given their Brighton setting (close to the station), you’re probably imagining the exact type of cool taproom that you’ve been missing all through lockdown. That’s exactly what they’ve got, attached to their brewery. They also run tours under normal circumstances, but obviously those are on hold for now.
Local delivery/collection from the UnBarred online shop is free, and they also deliver nationwide if you’re further away and fancy seeing what no-rules brewing is all about!
Supporting local businesses
So there are our first five recommendations for you. We’d love to see what you think of them.
Keep an eye out on our Journal page and on our social channels for more content about local businesses, because it’s something we’re going to be talking about more and more from now on. It’s more important now than ever.
That’s all for now – and cheers!