DESPITE its hipster reputation, Brighton and Hove was a little slow to the craft beer revolution, say organisers of the South Coast’s biggest beer festival.
But the city’s brewing community is working hard to catch up with pioneering cities such as Aberdeen, Bristol and Manchester.
Sixty breweries are now operating in Sussex while an increasing number of pubs offer a little something out of the ordinary.
Fourteen of the finest brewers from Sussex, UK and Europe will be taking part in the Tap Takeover Festival between Friday, March 31, and Sunday, April 2.
The event will see 4,000 craft beer drinkers head to the city for the “world’s greatest pub crawl” of 14 participating venues.
To mark the event, Sussex-based brewers Laine Brew Co and Two Tribes have collaborated to create “Brighton in a beer glass”, a big hoppy five per cent pint called Dirty Weekend.
The festival will bring some exotic flavours to the city including Barcelona’s Edge Brewing, supplying a passion fruit sour and barrel-aged whiskey beer by Aberdeen-based Fierce Beer.
Festival organisers said industry trends were moving away from the high-alcohol, massive hoppy flavours for the more fruity offerings of sours as the session beer of choice.
Laine Brew Co head brewer Nic Donald said: “You do have your big beers but everybody still wants that sessionable pint that you can sit there and drink, that has the same level of flavour but a lower ABV (alcohol by volume).”
Niki Deighton, director of distributor The Beer Collective, said: “When it comes to commercial viability, having a high ABV is a lot of showing what you can do but commercially they don’t do that well.”
The Tap Takeover aims to bring new beers to the city even the most knowledgeable of connoisseurs may not have tried but also about tempting those less familiar with craft beer to stray away from a pint of the usual.
Mr Hibberd said: “Some drinkers, rather than going for sessional lager at four per cent, are now going for a pale ale. They are finding while they are the same alcohol level, it has much more flavour.
“They are looking for that authenticity and flavour in everything they drink. In the same way they go to Small Batch for their espresso, they go to a pub they and want something that has been made with care and attention, has that same burst of flavour but keeps that drinkability.
“If people want to drink Harvey’s that’s absolutely fine. What we are looking to do is take people out of their comfort box who have only ever tried a lager like Fosters and Kronenbourg.
“In the same way they go out for a dinner for a curry with loads of flavour and chilli, to do the same thing when they go out for a beer.”
Choosing a craft beer can also be the tasiest of anti-corporation protests.
Mrs Deighton said: “There’s a buck against the big boys, this generation does not want to support massive breweries. They want to know it’s made with exciting ingredients and they will pay that bit more and not neck 20 pints of it.”
For more info visit taptakeover.co.uk.