Beer No Evil

I ‘Heart’ Sunny Worthing, a sign states, fixed to a lamp post, but the day is anything but sunny, in fact, it’s as grey as the street furniture the sign is attached to. The South Coast town was given the nickname ‘Sunny’ due to its mild climate, just one of the reasons why over the years it has grown a reputation for being home to many a retiree, but times are changing and Worthing is having a renaissance. Renewal is something that is happening up and down the South Coast, as investment has brought redevelopment- new homes, infrastructure and facilities- as well as new independent business. It seems unfair to drop the B word in to the mix but it’s natural to make comparisons and it seems that Brighton, although still very firmly the trendy, cultural capital of the South-East, is struggling to retain-or even attract-the latest wave of creatives and entrepreneurs, as prices rise and space becomes limited, towns such as Worthing are picking up the over-spill and thriving.  The South Coast has always been a draw for creatives, among which I count those who make the decision to set up ventures in food and drink, be those the artisans who skilfully create the products, or those who choose to be purveyors; passionate fans of a craft who want to share and grow the scene with locals; people like Gareth and Gemma of Beer No Evil; Bottle Shop and Taproom.

Beer No Evil sits nestled in the middle of
a parade of shops, sitting on Brighton Road, just up the way from the
Splashpoint centre- more signs of regeneration-and beams as the smartest,
newest shop on the block. The unit had sat empty for four years prior to its
new life as a beer house, being used as a dumping ground it took a lot of
vision to see past the grot and debris that had gathered within, but now it
looks contemporary, the shopfront spruced up with a lick of fashionable grey,
the interior open and minimal yet with handmade wooden shelving, table and bar,
plus the choice of warm lighting it’s now a charming and welcoming space.

Four keg lines glisten and shine toward the
back of the shop, behind an open bar which has been designed to allow customers
to step right up to where their beers are being poured. There’s no ‘Us and
Them’ attitude when it comes to the customer, instead there’s an encouragement
here to be part of the space. Despite the beers on sale being the draw it’s the
big communal table- handmade by Gareth- that you’ll notice first and is very
much the focal point of the shop. Fridges sit either side of the eight-seater,
stocked with many recognizable names of modern brewing and, crucially, local
beers sit among them. It’s the local beers that have proven to be some of the
most popular so far, “Our
biggest sellers have been Sussex Small Batch Brewing’s Tiramisu Stout”, states
Gareth, “[it was] brewed by my homebrew buddy Jim. I tasted and inputted into
it with various mates which was nice. And Arundel’s Maple Stout.”

Craft beer culture in Sussex has exploded
with upward of sixty breweries making a home here- there’s no shortage of great
beer- with that comes the bars, the taprooms, micropubs and shops, and that’s
when you know you have a healthy scene, one that Beer No Evil is keen to
support. They’re getting the support too, having only been in business for six
weeks (at time of writing), they already have regular, friendly faces making
the effort to travel to the shop and that’s something that has felt heartening
to Gareth and Gemma, and in turn gives the shop more heart, with the table
acting as the center for larger conversation, a community feel is blossoming.

Community, it must be said, is a key part
of what Beer No Evil is all about and becoming a part of the local Worthing
community as well as the local beer scene was always a part of the dream,
Gareth and Gemma say, “Even though we are relatively new to Worthing we
love it here and we wanted to spend our time and energy in the location we have
chosen to live. We also wanted to do something we could feel passionate about
that can be part of the local community. So, it seemed like the right time to
put our five year plus dream into action, leave our corporate world
careers behind and open our craft beer shop and taproom.”  They look at home here in the space that
they’ve created, it all seems to come naturally to them, completely relaxed
chatting about future events that are in the pipeline and excitedly discussing
the potential the space has to offer, such as being the hub for a new homebrew
club. Gareth is just as at ease as he clears the keg lines ahead of the
afternoon’s trade, whilst he talks about the beers that they’ve had on, or
shows off the incredibly flashy counter pressure bottle filling system they’ve
had installed. This system has allowed them to be the first in Worthing to
offer glass bottle refills, meaning the beer will stay fresher for longer. It
also helps to reduce their reliance on plastic which is another important
aspect of the Beer No Evil plan. “We want to be part of the local community. We
plan to  work with local artists and
community led initiatives which are important to us, particularly focusing on the
environment. The environment is important to us, as it should be to everyone,
and we really want to ‘do our bit’ and be as environmentally friendly as we
can. We are trying to reduce our reliance on plastic. This is why our growlers
are glass and if a customer needs a bag it will not be plastic. We will also
operate as energy efficiently as possible.”

On a sunny day the draw to head to Beer No Evil,
fill up a glass bottle with a session strength beer and head to the beach will
be a strong one. It’s starting to drizzle outside as I purchase a can of the
Tiramisu Stout and a bottle of Kernel London 1840, I say my goodbye’s and make
my way out of Worthing. I spy that little sign again, ‘I Heart Sunny Worthing’,
and I think I do, it may not be sunny but there’s a lot to love about the
seaside town, Gemma and Gareth’s shop alone is a great reason to, and even on
these grey days, the future looks very bright for Beer No Evil.

This article was originally published in Beer Imbiber magazine January 2019