Ah, Sussex by the sea, my second favourite county and the home of possibly my favourite UK beer – Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter. Add in the impressive contributions from Dark Star of Brighton and Hepworth of Horsham, among others, and you have a brewing scene in rude health. Sussex beer is on the up!
So it is that I turn my eyes to the south again and found a number of local brews at Lewes on my way through to the Seven Sisters (pictured) recently. So, here goes:
Franklin’s Brewery Brighton Rock (4%)
This Bexhill-on-Sea brewery has named its session strength bitter after either the iconic tourist confectionary or the Graham Greene novel of the same name. Either way, this beer is indeed both sweet – and bitter – like its eponymous icons.
There’s an enthusiastic, effervescent start to the Brighton Rock. It looks like a session ale: moody, copper, woody brown. There’s a caramel, biscuity nose to boot.
I registered sharp raisin hits which linger and I denoted a little cheeky ginger in there.
It’s very light bodied and, without being spectacular, it is extremely quaffable.
Arundel Brewery ASB (4.5%)
Arundel Brewery’s Arundel Special Bitter (ASB) is a near-premium strength 4.5% and certainly delivers a real old school bitter experience. This copper-brown beer comes with a balanced nose with a little raisin and bitter hop in the mix.
The nose follows through to the flavour, where the ASB delivers a bitter hop hit coupled with raw maltiness late on the tongue.
This one appears in bottle format only, but taste-wise it’s definitely a bitter for the purist!
Arundel Brewery Sussex Gold (4.2%)
Coming into season, the Sussex Gold is an enticing deep amber colour, like the fields of barley that undulate across the county. There’s an enticing rich, malty, tangy nose with hints of orange. The taste is tangy, with a subtle bitter hop balance. I didn’t get any of the “citrus finish” I was promised – perhaps a shake-up of the aroma hop content could deliver that. It’s just a quite average blonde/golden – very easy to drink but could be more exciting, in my view.
We’re always on the hunt for new beer, so what’s your Sussex beer recommendation?