Brighton is, unsurprisingly, the ‘craft’ capitol of Sussex with multiple bars and pubs embracing this brave, new beer world. Cast your eye a little further along the coastline and you’ll see ever more proof of the love Sussex has for great beer. You’ll also find one of the newest additions to the scene- Naked Beer Co.
Keen to explore everything Sussex has to offer the world of beer, and (adopting a hushed tone) having not tried any of their brews before, when they got in touch to see if I could write a review of their core beers there was no way I was going to refuse. I was also keen to find out more, so whilst awaiting the delivery of their scantily-clad bottled range (the labels are transparent), I fired a few questions their way and Dan was kind enough to answer:
What inspired you to get started and how long has it taken you to get it to this point?
The head brewer, Rob, has had a 5 year career in brewing so far, starting his career off at Bristol Beer Factory (alongside Brett and Andy from the Wild Beer Co. interestingly enough), and then later working for Ascot Ales. What inspired him to start Naked Beer Co. was the desire to have the freedom to brew whatever recipes he wanted to create, rather than brewing to instruction. We were established in September last year, and we begun trading at the start of February this year, so we’re very much the new kids on the block.
What’s next for Naked Beers?
Naked Beer Co. is about to enter a very exciting period in its lifespan as we are gathering resources and preparing to expand – a risky process that can cost you dearly if you get it wrong. However, we’ve had the fortune of being selected for the Indigo pub list in Brighton, so that has helped us immensely. We’re currently in the process of acquiring some shiny new toys (like a massive FV), and we’ll be looking at taking on a couple of employees and even moving premises in the new year.
Are there any more new beers due for release this year?
We’re now at the stage where we’re incredibly pleased with how our three flagship beers are going down, and now that summer is out the way, we’ll most definitely be bringing out some new beers this winter. One of them, a 7% gorse flavoured hoppy IPA named ‘Intergorse’ is at the stage where we’ve released an extremely limited run of it, and once we’ve perfected it it’ll see a general release.
As far as I’m aware, there are three other beers due for release before the year is out, one of which will be sloe berry Imperial Stout using foraged sloe berries from the downs local to hear. Rob promises that that one is going to be special. The other two I’m not able to disclose too much information about them, but I will say they’re both dark beers and they’ll be seasonals. I’m incredibly excited about both of them, as to my knowledge no one has brewed a beer with some of the flavours we’ve selected.
What are your thoughts on the current beer scene in Sussex?
We feel that the Sussex beer scene is absolutely thriving at the minute, and we love it. You have micro pubs opening all over the shop around where we’re based (Worthing, Lancing, Shoreham-on-Sea), which indicates that craft beer really seems to have found its place down here now. As well as the micro pubs you have other numerous quality venues with impeccable beer selections (a big shout out to the Wandering Goose in Worthing and the Duke of Wellington in Shoreham-on-Sea here). In terms of choice and quality of venue, there has never been a more exciting time to be an ale drinker in Sussex.
Where can we find your beers?
Right now we’re pretty much flat out pumping out beer for the Indigo pub company, so if you’re really angling to try some of our beer on tap, you’re probably looking at a trip to Brighton! Having said that, we have a number of loyal regulars our local area that are stocking our beer – the Anchored in Worthing have got one of the 5 casks of prototype Intergorse, and a few others will be getting our Depeach Mode hefeweizen very soon.
What’s been your favourite beer moment?
Mine personally so far has been this year’s Hanover Beer festival, it was a great night with some absolutely fantastic beers. Saying that, I didn’t get to go to Indy Man Beer Con this year ;_; that would’ve been special…
And finally (and a bit evil this), What’s your favourite brew of all time?
Difficult question, with a lot of potential answers! Being from the west country, a lot of my favourite beers are from there. I love milk stouts, and Wiper & True’s ‘Milkshake’ is amazing. In terms of lighter beers, the New Bristol Brewery do an pale called ‘Asia’ that’s bloody fantastic. I also massively rate our own Porter ‘Indecent Exposure’ out of the bottle as well. It’s fucking immense. I’d put it up there with Beavertown’s ‘Smog Rocket’, which is another incredible beer.
As for Rob, he’s quite clear on his favourite brew – it’s a beer called ‘Raison D’Etre’ by American brewery Dogfish Head. It is whispered that that is the brew that turned him onto brewing in the first place. In terms of all time though? We don’t know if we’ve found it yet. Hopefully we’ll be the one to brew it!
So with that in mind I sampled their beers, starting with Streaker, their 4% IPA.
Streaker pours with a lovely, above average viscosity, not quite syrup but on the tracks, in a beautiful deep amber or caramelised orange hue. A good, tight head forms, carrying aromas of soft caramel, light florals and a slice of grapefruit and pineapple.
It’s the pineapple and caramel that take centre stage on the tongue; the chewy caramel-like malts rolling around in a smooth mouthfeel that carries with it waves of pineapple, like a pineapple tarte tartin. A squeeze of grapefruit whisps in before leaving a prickly bitterness and light spice in a dry finish that urges you to go in for more. The guys warned of and apologised for a yeast content that was greater than usual, and indeed there was quite a high amount of the good stuff hanging around, but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment of this beer. Rich and fruity, this 4% IPA tastes closer to a 5 or 6% beer, making this brew an easy go-to for a session.
Up next, Indecent Exposure, the Naked take on a classic Porter. This pours with a smooth, silky flare, thick with an off-white head, a light carbonation giving up aromas of chocolate, treacle and red berries. Smooth on the palate this brew lays on a show of praline-like chocolate and hazelnut, orange citrus hinting at the edges before swiftly moving into a dry coffee bitterness with a smokiness drifting throughout. The bitterness fills the mouth, developing as the beer warms, the flavour profile evolving into stronger espresso hits and near-pure dark chocolate. At only 4.5% this is a beer that offers up an accomplished set of flavours that demand to be returned to more than once.
Sip Slip was last on my list, their 6.5% Special ale pours a deep fig-like red-brown hue. The head is a creamy off-white that soon dissipates into a lace. The aromas that this dark ale offers are dried fruits; dates, figs, currants and an essence of smoke. This is a thick, silky and smooth brew that delights in a bold helping of sweet dark fruits and caramel, a nuttiness and a touch of mocha working as the support act. A gentle hop bitterness ties everything together, and this beer stays balanced yet rich throughout, before a sweetness punctuates the finish. This is liquid dessert that I could easily drink all winter.
These guys certainly know how to pack flavour and body into their brews and I’m genuinely excited at their plans for expansion, their new brews and the fact that they’ve found a home in Sussex. If they can keep their quality consistent, and their expansion goes to plan, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t expect to see Naked Beer Co baring their souls near you soon.
Thanks to Rob and Dan for the samples. Although these beers were free to me, this has in no way affected my views.