THE SUSSEX beer industry is reaching heady heights and is now estimated to be worth £40 million to the local economy.

The county is riding the wave of a growing interest in craft beer and is now home to 60 brewers employing 375 workers.

Experts are hop-ful that growth will continue for the foreseeable future for an industry that also contributes millions more to the economy in supporting the pub trade.

The county recently basked in national recognition, with Burning Sky winning gold ahead of 400 rivals at the National Independent Beer Awards.

The focus of the brewing industry will turn to Brighton and Hove this weekend when up to 4,000 thirsty enthusiasts head to Tap Takeover – the largest beer festival on the South Coast.

Sussex brewers have grown from pub basements into major producers thanks in no small part to ex-Chancellor Gordon Brown who introduced small breweries relief in 2002.

Niki Deighton, director of craft beer distributor Beer Collective and Tap takeover founder, said: “It has made such a big difference. It has meant smaller firms are not getting whacked with a huge beer duty rates.”

To ensure breweries keep under the 5,000 hectolitre limit, many firms are keen exporters – Two Tribes Island, a link-up between the Horsham brewer and Island Records, is shipped to Scandinavia, while Brighton Bier is being drunk in Japan.

The favourable tax arrangement has coincided with huge growth in the US craft ale scene, inspiring brewers here to be more experimental with their own brews.

Ms Deighton said: “It’s a bit like the organic food explosion. People are saying, ‘I’m not just doing the traditional way everyone brews, I’m going to do something experimental’ and they are coming out with some outstanding beers.

“Craft brewing has moved on so much in the last three years.”

For Brighton Bier the move to a new brewery in Roedean was a game changer.

Director Stephen Whitehurst said: “The big thing for us was moving from brewing on a smal scale for a few local pubs to producing enough not just for the city but to distribute all over the country and internationally.”

April is a big month for the firm as it opens its own pub, the Brighton Bierhaus, in Edward Street. The firm’s colourful cans will also start to be stocked at Marks & Spencer.

Mr Whitehurst said: “We have a very clear, very strong brand. People see it and instantly know what it is.

“Being so closely associated with Brighton helps us a lot. Brewers from America or Japan will come down from London on their holidays to drink the beer they had in a can in Tokyo, which is amazing.”

Craft brewing is big business. UK industry leader Brewdog made £16.9 million profit in 2016. But not every brewer is looking to follow in its footsteps.

Tom Dobson, brewer at Burning Sky, said: “We set up Burning Sky to be the size that it is, the size that it’s always going to be.

Burning Sky, which was named one of the top five new breweries in the world in 2015, is a leading producer of saisons, a Belgian style IPA that takes up to two years to ferment.

The brewer installed a coolship in January allowing “spontaneous fermentation” by yeast and bacteria in the open air. It is the first of its kind in the UK since the 1930s.

The craft beer industry has never been in ruder health and brewers are hopeful the good days are here to stay.

Ms Deighton said: “The big boys are coming into the market, trying to set-up their own craft brews but I don’t think the drinker will be fooled.”


Nothing says Sussex beer quite like Harvey’s.

Established in 1790 by the Harvey family, the Lewes brewery is the county’s oldest independent brewery and currently employs around 70 staff.

Loyal drinkers love the firm for its tradition – Harvey’s uses a dray horse to make deliveries to local pubs.

Despite its long history, the firm has been responding to the ever evolving beer industry, most notably with a major rebrand announced in August which saw it add an apostrophe and reveal new designs for its cans and bar pumps.

The rebranding also features a new strapline incorporating the unofficial Sussex motto “We wunt be druv”.

The brewers released a series of cans in February following last year’s successful canning of Best Bitter, made necessary after the firm was named as a supplier to the i360.

Last week, the brewer’s Lewes HQ hosted an album launch for local folk act Noble Jacks and brewed an accompanying limited-edition beer.


Born from the pub and beer scene of Brighton, Laine Brew Co says its beers are “unfiltered, unpasteurised and uncompromising” for more flavour and more love.

Its 45 barrel brewery in Adversane near Billingshurst opened last autumn as it debuted seven beers across the city.

The brewery also operates Brighton’s leading brew pub, The North Laine Brewhouse, bringing back to life the long vacant former music venue The Barfly.

The firm also has the experimental Brew Lab at the People’s Park Tavern in Hackney and Four Thieves at Clapham Junction.

The brewery is owned by the Laine Pub Company, Brighton’s leading pub operator which has grown to 43 pubs, including 35 in Brighton, since opening The Mash Tun in 1996.


When it comes to scruples, few can top Bartleby’s.

The Brighton-based brewer is as sustainable they come, delivering beer from its five barrel brewery by bike.

Its low-waste approach sees all spent grains and hops composted while “every bit of water” used to cool the beer is used to wash down equipment or water plants.

Unlike the vast majority of breweries, the firm does not use fish finings in its beer and so everything it produces is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

The workers’ co-op, based at Coachwerks in Hollingdean, Brighton, refuses to sell to “supermarkets, Bond villains or any one else of dubious character”.

Established in 2012 by friends Matt Wilson and Matt Naish, the brewery became the first in the city to offer beer deliveries of kegs and bottles by bicycle.

The brewery’s beer is available at a number of city pubs including The Fountainhead, Hope and Ruin, the Shakespeare’s Head and The Signalman.


Dark Star has gone from brewing in the basement of the The Evening Star in Surrey Street, Brighton, in 1994 to becoming one of the big players in Sussex brewing.

The firm is now based in Partridge Green near Horsham and currently employs 25 staff just on the brewing side of the operation.

Dark Star has four pubs including The Evening Star, The Anchor Tap in Horsham which has just won CAMRA North Sussex pub of the year and The Lockhart Tavern in Haywards Heath.

It hopes to open ten more pubs across the region in the near future.

As well as the hugely popular HopHead, the firm is not afraid of a little experimentation, notably its pudding-inspired Creme Brulee.


Star brewer Andy Hepworth founded Hepworths in 2001.

Mr Hepworth started brewing in Reading almost directly after university. He moved to King & Barnes brewery in Horsham in 1980 becoming the youngest head brewer in the country. He went on to win numerous awards.

When the historic King & Barnes brewery closed in 2000 he was determined to keep the tradition alive by starting his own brewery.

The beermaker uses Sussex-sourced ingredients wherever possible and specialises in organic and gluten free beers.

Hepworths recently moved to a purpose-built facility near Billingshurst where it currently produces more than two million pints.

While the majority of its produce is thirstily quaffed in the South East, the company also export to Russia, Norway and Italy.


There is nothing tribal about Two Tribes. The Horsham brewer loves to work with fellow beer nuts.

The firm is a big fan of collaboration with “like-minded creative companies” including Island Records, producing the tropical Session IPA and the Jamaican Rum Porter.

It has also teamed up with New York chef Dan Barber on his Wasted project, using byproducts from super markets to create an amazing beer which is currently being sold at Selfridges.

Head brewer Jordan Mower joined forces with his counterpart Nic Donald at Laine Brew Co to make Dirty Weekend – Brighton in a pint glass – to mark the Tap Takeover festival.

Two Tribes is currently canning and kegging its beers with limited one- off special cask ales with a Sour Mango Pale soon to be released.


ALTHOUGH not quite as old as the town’s castle which is on its logo, Arundel Brewery is among the elder statesmen of the Sussex brewing industry having been established in 1992.

The firm uses a 20 barrel brew kit and employs seven staff.

New head brewer Brenden Quinn certainly has a good pedigree having previously worked for leading London craft brewer Fourpure.

The brewery’s ethos is to promote and use local, fresh Sussex ingredients. Its smoked porter uses a local smoker to smoke the malt which is then brewed on the same day for maximum freshness.

Its raspberry wheat beer uses the freshest Sussex raspberries.

As well as employing staff, through its use of local products it is helping to keep other Sussex industries flourishing .