On Friday 24th August the inaugural Brighton & Hove Beer Week will commence, showcasing the very best of the city’s vibrant beer scene as upwards of thirty venues team up alongside some of the very best breweries from Brighton, Sussex and even further afield to celebrate across more than sixty events. There will be tours, there will be tastings, there will be tap takeovers, exclusive beers brewed specifically for the beer week, there will be live brewing demos and even some birthday celebrations.
East or West, Brighton feels like a natural meeting point tying the two ends of the broader Sussex county together in a riot of colours, sounds, tastes, influences, styles and interests. The seaside city has it all; shopping, the pier, the beach and bars, restaurants, pubs and more besides; there’s something for everyone. Brighton means many different things to many different people, and I wrote a piece about what the city means to me as part of my Sussex Beer Now series, but it has also made a name for itself by building a good reputation around quality drinking and dining experiences. In a broader sense, looking beyond the city for a moment, Sussex is becoming a legitimate destination for food and drink with an incredible array of produce being made, farmed, baked, foraged, sourced, distilled and brewed by a wide range of local artisans who’re all playing a part in a rich tapestry. Sussex wine is a perfect example of this as the county is fast becoming a destination for wine enthusiasts, but Sussex is also home to over sixty breweries. Whilst the county isn’t as easy to navigate as some city’s that are already known for their beer scenes, the Sussex scene is just as buoyant, if not more so, and now it has an ideal platform in the Brighton & Hove Beer Week to show off just how good it is as brewers, venues and drinkers all come together to collaborate and celebrate.
The week is the brainchild of Emma Inch, a Brighton based, award-winning beer writer and broadcaster. I put a few questions to Emma ahead of the beer week’s launch to find out a little more:
What inspired you to create the Brighton and Hove Beer Week and where did you start when getting it from an idea to a fully fledged event?
Brighton & Hove is a great place to explore and drink beer. The local brewing scene (both within the city and across Sussex) is vibrant and growing – we have some world-class breweries right here on our doorstep and some wonderful venues in which to drink it! I thought it was about time that an event showcased everything that makes Brighton & Hove such a unique place to enjoy beer. Inspired by some of the other beer weeks across the UK (e.g. Norwich, Manchester, London), I set about seeing how I could make something happen here.
I was very sure that the beer week shouldn’t be about taking local beer and placing it somewhere that people would have to pay to come to drink it. Instead, I felt it needed to be absolutely rooted in the venues and the breweries that serve and make great beer all year round. This is about showcasing the city – in all its eccentricities and diversity – and about supporting the businesses that work so hard to make the beer scene so much fun. I started by approaching some of the venues, brewers, and beer people with whom I already had good relationships. They had some great ideas and really got the ball rolling. It’s kind of spiralled from there…!
What are you looking forward to the most over the next week?
I’ve been so impressed at the amount of creativity, collaboration and sheer hard work that the venues and brewers have put into making this event a success. I could never have imagined such a fantastic range of events. It’s really hard to know where to start! There are some fantastic collaboration brews that I can’t wait to try, and some amazing tap takeovers. There’s also food, music, tours, talks and everything in between. The Burning Sky 5th Birthday Party at The Prince Albert is an absolute must! I’m really keen to get to some of the venues I don’t visit as regularly. I must admit, I’m also looking forward to heading up the i360 and looking down on a city full of beer!
How would you describe the Brighton beer scene right now?
I think the scene is exciting, ever-changing, fun and collaborative. It’s a great time to be involved in beer!
When will planning start for the second Brighton and Hove Beer Week?!
Ha ha! Ask me in a couple of weeks!
It will be really interesting to see how this year turns out and then think about the future. I think this event will make Brighton & Hove really stand out as a beer destination and that’s really exciting! Who knows how this will all develop in the future!
The full list of events can be found on the official Brighton & Hove Beer Week website, as can a map and list of the venues taking part and details of the breweries and collaboration beers. You can also listen to Emma on the Fermentation Radio Show, Radio Reverb on 97.2FM.