Two local men have embarked on a campaign to beat the big, impersonal brewers and wean Sussex drinkers away from the fizz onto fine, locally produced beer.
360 Degree Brewing is run by John Shepherd, 44 from West Sussex and Mark Grady, 43 from Wadhurst. They moved into premises alongside the Bluebell Railway six months ago and have now started delivering their beers to pubs and clubs across the county.
Without stating the obvious, both are beer enthusiasts, although both came into brewing from entirely different business backgrounds. They withdrew savings and borrowed some cash in order to invest in stainless steel equipment designed and built in Britain.
They have now overhauled the building, installed kit and refined recipes. After months of test brewing they launched their first beers this October.
John said: “What makes us different is that we want to brew the beers that people tell us to brew. We believe that is what makes us a craft brewer; that we listen to what people want to drink and how they want to drink it and then we craft beers that meet that need.”
The pair test-brewed and tasted different beers then sought the opinions of friends to find out whether their products were heading in the right direction.
Now on the market are Sussex 42, described as ‘the closest beer to a traditional British ale;’ Pale 39, ‘a lighter bodied but still fully flavoured pale ale;’ Pacific Pale 49, ‘a beer unashamedly rooted in the North American craft brewing scene brewed with hops from the US, New Zealand and Australia’ and seasonal specials.
Beer is available in both cask and bottle which means it is bottled as a living product with a small amount of yeast in suspension. This creates a natural carbonation - there is no pasteurisation or filtering.
This collaborative process is important to them, they say. They want to break down the wall between drinker and brewer so they plan focus groups to find out what people want. And they hope to get their beers into other parts of the country and have a couple of London plans too. This month 360 Degree Brewing launches its members’ club where people pay a small subscription, get special offers and are invited to special events.
Local venues have also placed orders for the new beers. They include The Brunswick in Hove, The Ginger Dog in Brighton, The Seal in Selsey, The Egham Beer Festival and The Bluebell Railway.