It’s no secret that Brighton and Hove is a hotspot for beer; it’s the UK city with the highest ratio of pubs per person and is home to many a craft or limited edition brew. But what’s most striking about the beer scene is the overwhelming amount of love people have for locally produced drinks, and you can’t get more local than a beer that was born in a Brighton-centre basement. James Cuthbertson, Foundation Chair of the ever-popular Dark Star Brewing Company, chatted to us about all things hoppy and malty.
Named after the eponymous Grateful Dead song, Dark Star was born beneath the Evening Star pub in Surrey Street in 1994. Within a few short years, the pints were so popular that demand soon outstripped the size of the brewery. The newer, larger Dark Star brewhouse is equipped with a whopping 45 barrels and sends beer out across the county from its base in sleepy Partridge Green, West Sussex.
The Brewery, which was once barely bigger than a home-brewing kit, now crafts more than 20 different beers annually. James’ favourite is the American Pale Ale, which was one of the first brews of its kind in the UK. “Our APA is a nice little 4.7 per cent blend and a standout beer in its class with a massive hop hit. Personally, I’d pair it with something barbequed, or better still, another pint. I can really picture myself drinking it in the summer.”
While some of the beverages like the APA are permanent fixtures, quirky seasonal and special brews are also on the menu. The January special, Espresso, was much-loved at the World Beer Awards and offers a powerful caffeine kick. For those who love to savour a pint in the sunshine, a light elderflower brew will emerge from Dark Star in a few months. “It really is a beautiful and floral drink for the summer,” said James. “To keep doing inventive new beers along the way, we started doing more pubs.” There are now four Dark Star pubs dotted throughout Sussex, still including the Evening Star.
It’s clear that this brewhouse is about more than just beer; it’s got bags of character, a cult following, and a clear message. “Lots of pubs keep closing and I would like to do more for free houses. I guess if I could sum it up, Dark Star is about getting the great British pub back on its feet.”
For more information, visit the brewery website.