The Producers: Dark Star Brewery
PUBLISHED: 01:16 06 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:09 20 February 2013
The Dark Star Brewing Company was born in 1994 in the cellar of The Evening Star pub, in Brighton. Today it is located at a much bigger site in Partridge Green, just south west of Horsham, West Sussex. Kate Eastman checked it out
No onereally wanted to leave the cellar of the pub, but apparently more and more people liked drinking the same beers as us, so we needed to brew more, explains Paul Reed the Managing Director. It was probably in 2001, when we moved to an actual brewery site, that we had to admit that the hobby had indeed become a business, only defined by the fact that we had to buy the kit required. We all had to cash in any savings, endowments and have a rummage around behind the sofa to make it happen.
Initially, Dark Star Brewing Company was the brainchild of three real ale nuts who wanted to turn the Evening Star into a brew pub; Rob Jones, Peter Skinner and Peter Halliday. In 2000, they were joined by Mark Tranter, now Head Brewer and myself, now MD and fueled by beer and the love of beer, it grew into a mission to share our love of hop obsessed-beer with the rest of the world well, Brighton in the first instance. In terms of inspiration, we have some fantastic neighbours like Harveys and are situated in a county that frankly is a centre of excellence for real ale with over 20 brewers.
There are now 11 people who work in the brewery, five of which are involved with the production side. In the business in total we have 50 staff which includes four pubs; Evening Star, Brighton, Duke of Wellington, Shoreham, Stand Up Inn, Lindfield and The Partridge, Partridge Green.
This year Dark Star will be producing 22 different beers, three in bottles Espresso, Sunburst and Imperial Stout the rest in cask. It can take quiet a while to get the right quantity of ingredients and at the beginning of creating a beer, you can experiment with some strong ratios, describes Paul. A few years ago, Mark the Head Brewer, set about making the coffee beer, but used the same scale that hed make his morning coffee, well he had to start somewhere. Long story short, it was a little strong, in fact, I think some of those who tried the first brew are still awake now!
Each year theres a healthy debate over the coming years beers; the sales guy wants just the favorites, the brewers want the extreme and esoteric. Its inspired by beers weve loved and admired during that year, we consider ourselves great plagiarists as well as listening to feedback from our drinkers, explains Paul. Our most popular product by far is the Hophead, this session beer represents circa 60 per cent of all production.
Three million pints
It can take from two weeks to three or four months to produce their darker and stronger beers like the 10.5 Imperial Stout. With a production of over 3 million pints brewed last year, business is extremely busy. Having just acquired our latest pub, The Partridge in Partridge Green which is our Brewery Tap (closest outlet) now, there may be a new pub or two to come in the future but the truth is thats probably down to our customers and how much beer they drink, explains Paul. Personally I have two favourite beers, dependent on my mood, either the great session beer that is Ranmore from Surrey Hills, or Harveys Best, the same as my father and grandfather used to drink.
To find out which local pubs sell Dark Star Brewing Companys beer look at www.darkstarbrewing.co.uk and use their Beer Finder to locate their nearest pub. Under Shop theres a link to buy beer alternatively, drop in at the brewery in Partridge Green.
Harveys, Lewes, East Sussex
Bridge Wharf Brewery, 6 Cliffe High Street, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 2AH. T: 01273 480209. www.harveys.org.uk
A large, family-run brewery on the banks of the River Ouse. Its popular beers win numerous CAMRA awards
Hammerpot Brewery, Unit 30, The Vinery, Poling, Arundel, West Sussex BN18 9PY. T: 01903 883338 www.hammerpot-brewery.co.uk.
Set up in April 2005, based in The Vineries just south of the A27.
The FILO Brewery at the First In Last Out pub, High Street, Hastings, East Sussex TN34 3EY.
T: 01424 425079
You can see the brewing area through a window at the back of the pub in the Old Town.