Merakai Brewing Co is a taproom based in Standford Square, next to Pizza Express, off Warwick Street.
Run by award-winning brewer Olly Parsons and Emma O’Neill-Parsons, it has a focus on community and inclusivity – as well as serving delicious beer.
Emma said: “From our perspective, our ethos is making sure we are standing for something and supporting our community, and that we’re not just here to make great beer.
"The brewing industry is predominantly white, male and we want to do our part in opening this industry up to others, to make sure people from all communities feel included, safe and accepted here.
"We know our privilege to be able to open up a brewery and a taproom. We have been really supported by people in this community and we want to give that back.”
As part of Emma and Olly’s commitment to inclusivity and tolerance, they have produced a code of conduct for customers to observe. It can be viewed by scanning a QR code on the table, next to the QR code for ordering.
Merakai was founded in November, 2020. The couple had wanted to set up a brewery before Covid, but when lockdown was imposed they saw it as the catalyst to make it happen.
Emma had been working in marketing in London, and Olly for another brewery, but they found a venue in Uckfield to house a brewery and went from there.
They immediately gained popularity, and as well as selling their beers all over the world through their website, Merakai beer is sold in taprooms and pubs across Worthing.
The Uckfield brewery did have a tasting room, but Emma said the location was trickier for people to get to because it was in the middle of the countryside. Because the couple live in Worthing, they knew they wanted to open something in the town centre, and immediately loved this venue when it became available.
The taproom had a soft opening over the Easter weekend, and Olly said the reaction so far has been good.
"It was nice to meet people and have them enjoy the bar in front of us. It was a relief to open, and to finally be in the community.
"We had a tasting session on Saturday to say thank you to our Crowdfunders who helped us raise £7,500 towards this project.”
One of the beers being served at Merakai is Brave Noise. It advocates for safe spaces and inclusive environments by requesting breweries be transparent with their policies and commit to long-term work. By brewing that beer, a bar has committed standing in solidarity with those who shared their stories about mistreatment and who are survivors of gender discrimination, racism, sexual assault, and harassment within the industry.
Emma said it is important to them that they make this commitment, and for the profits from this beer to go towards providing ‘wellness officers’ in the industry.
Going forward, Emma and Olly hope to hold events at the bar, and to provide a limited food menu.
They are currently open Thursday to Sunday.