Recently there have been thoughts abound that more could be done to cover local beer scenes, to throw a spotlight on regional happenings and balance the beer love a little. I was all set to write a piece about my local beer scene but then, just when I seemed to be getting somewhere with it, a new brewery would emerge, exciting new beers were released, or a re-brand was under way. All positive of course, but I decided to delay writing my thoughts and just casually observe instead, see how things progressed. This was all well over a year ago now and the Sussex beer scene has gone from strength to strength in this time, really hitting its stride and shows no sign of slowing down. But as the number of breweries in the county has grown, currently standing at around 40, has its reputation grown too? I Googled ‘Sussex Beer Scene’, and not much came up in terms of reviews, discussions or articles relating to the current position of Sussex within this nationwide boom for all things beer. It all seems to be a bit under the radar. So being a Sussex dweller and beer drinker I’m taking the opportunity to promote what’s great about the scene here.
Let’s take some time to consider Sussex itself for a moment (I’ll try not to get all Tourist Information Centre on you). A county rich in heritage and fiercely independent in thought; the unofficial county motto is ‘We Wunt Be Druv’- Saxon for Will Not Be Driven – yeah, that’s right, you try kicking us out when time is called. There are only two cities in the county; Chichester and Brighton & Hove, with the rest of the land being home to historic market towns, coastal towns and rural hamlets & villages. Even if you’re in the middle of one of the larger towns here you’re only ever within spitting distance of rolling fields or a dip in the Channel. This is a small county that’s often been seen as just a back-garden for London, but it’s a place with a very unique and independent cultural identity. London is a stage with a worldwide audience, it’s a place that’s burgeoning with the next top designers, artists, architects and brewers. It’s a melting pot for the fusion of different styles and cultures atop it’s own unique history, a big city that clings to fashion and trends- ‘craft’ being one of the latest. And whilst London is under pressure to be at the forefront, it’s all a bit more relaxed down here. Less London Fashion Week, more South of England Show. But that’s not to say that this a sleepy, backward county and as far as the beers are concerned there’s plenty to show-off. However, rather than go all out for a long-read as originally intended I’m going to drag this out over a short series instead. I’ll focus on Sussex cask heroes, the best bottled beers, ‘ones to watch’ and where to drink, with a little round-up post to keep things neat, (if you have any thoughts on the Sussex beer scene, either what it was, what it is or what it could become, then let me know, I’m keen to learn how the county I call home is perceived). I try to focus on Sussex beers and brewers on the blog anyway, so I will inevitably retread some old ground, but it’s Sussex ground, so that’s OK with me.