On Saturday 24th May two West Sussex breweries opened their doors to crowds of beer enthusiasts in separate events that saw beer fans seek refuge from the driving rain that sought to keep people away, but the sun fought back to shine on over those who turned out to attend Kissingate’s open day; Springfest and the Spin Up in a Brewery event at Dark Star (an annual cycling and beer mash-up). Not being one for Lycra I opted for the former, waited for the sun to breakthrough and made my way to Kissingate brewery for the first time.
Just 3 miles outside of my hometown Horsham, Kissingate brewery is tucked away beyond copse-lined roads, the drive weaves up to an opening where the brewery stands proudly. On this particular afternoon the site was a sunlit yard filled with folk, many of whom were dressed head-to-toe in black and purple costume, the Black Swan Morris dancers. In my over-eager bid to get some beer I missed my opportunity to take a snapshot of that initial sight and it soon became clear that I’d also in-fact missed the Black Swan dancers entertainment, arriving too late as I’d waited for the fairer weather, a tactic that also saw me miss out on Kissingate’s Black Cherry Mild which had sold-out.
There were plenty more beers from the Kissingate kit to tempt me with however, and I soon had my hands on Gardenia Mild, a 4.5% amber mild. This fairly smooth brew holds herbal aromas, a balanced malt base supports floral hops and herbal hits of Rosemary, Bay and Thyme that weave through in abundance and lead to a dry, bitter finish. A fantastic beer that really shows what Kissingate are about- big, unique flavours inspired by ‘cottage’ brewing of yore.
Next up was Manderina Red, a 4.8% Red IPA . Another solid malt base, more complex than i’d anticipated, playing host to big orange citrus hops. Mandarin orange come in upfront quickly taken on by the complex malt profile which lead into a transient chocolate orange hit, then a dryer, roasted profile before the orange citrus hops kick back in to finish in a bold bitter sweet end. The further down the glass you go, a resinous pine quality develops and grows to add another layer of complexity to this unique IPA.
My eye was now firmly fixed on the darker offerings and knowing what Buffalo Black would bring I went in for that next. A rich 5% stout that is a collaboration of some of the finest flavours in brewing. Decadent dark chocolate provides a base for big bourbon highs to come through and fill the palate, brought by Kentucky bourbon cask chippings, softened by ribbons of vanilla and a delicate floral hop. An intense amount of flavour that would make you believe the abv were higher.
I finished my session on another decadent stout, the award-winning 6.6% Six Crows. A richer, darker offering, more intense than Buffalo with a fuller mouth-feel. This coats the palate with thick, black treacle notes and dried fruits, an oaked woodiness giving each sup a depth and roundness whilst a smoked edge plays into the finish. The perfect end to a fantastic session.
The brewery conduct tours and another event is in the pipeline for Saturday 21st June. Visit their website at Kissingate.co.uk for more info. Big thanks to Kissingate for hosting such enjoyable festivities that afternoon, a real showcase of some of the best beers being produced in the region right now.
Pump clip artwork downloaded from Kissingate website