New micro-brewery offers unique Haywards Heath beers in a laid-back environment

A new micro-brewery that creates and serves its own beers has opened in Haywards Heath.

The Hop Sun, owned by Heathen Brewers, is based in a Victorian barn in Triangle Road, and features a taproom where people can enjoy their drinks in a laid-back environment.

It has been open for three weeks but an official opening ceremony was held on Wednesday (August 4) and attended by Haywards Heath town mayor Howard Mundin and Mid Sussex MP Mims Davies.

“We cover the whole spectrum of beers,” said Ed Perfect, 42, one of the directors of the business.

From left: Mayor Howard Mundin, MP Mims Davies and Ed Perfect officially open The Hop Sun. Picture: Steve Robards, SR2108062

“We’ve got a NEIPA, which is a New England IPA, and we’ve got a light, fresh, crisp and more traditional IPA and a West Coast Pale beer,” he said.

Ed, who lives in Haywards Heath with his wife and two children, said Heathen Brewers also has a stout and, in total, the taproom offers more than 12 diverse beers on draught.

Half are Heathen Beers, he said, and half are guest beers from other breweries, and The Hop Sun serves locally cooked Piani Italian pizzas too.

Ed said the building has a lot of character as well, and the team kept many of its historical features like its exposed bricks, which contrast with their shiny new stainless steel vessels.

The official opening of The Hop Sun in Haywards Heath. Picture: Steve Robards, SR2108062.

“Really the beers are down to Mark Balcombe who’s our head brewer,” said Ed, adding that Mark is a beer mastermind who studied chemistry at university.

“He always had a dream of becoming a brewer and came to work at Grape & Grain (Ed’s wine shop in The Broadway) when he heard we had a little brewery underneath,” he said.

“He brewed this stout, which was absolutely incredible.”

Ed thinks the company’s most accomplished beer is the NEIPA because it has all the flavour of a fuller beer but with only five per cent alcohol.

MP Mims Davies, Mayor Howard Mundin and Ed Perfect officially open The Hop Sun in Haywards Heath. Picture: Steve Robards, SR2108062.

“To get that kind of fullness in a beer, which is relatively light, is an achievement,” he said.

Ed explained that the term ‘micro-brewery’ simply refers to the scale of the operation.

“We’re ten brewers barrels, shortened to BBL, which is the imperial scale for brewery sizes,” he said.

This equates to 1,700 litres or 3,000 pints and is ‘pretty much as small as commercial breweries get’.

However, Ed said Heathen Brewers did start life in the Grape & Grain cellar, which was ‘technically commercial’ and four times smaller than The Hop Sun, so that could be called a ‘nano-brewery’.

Ed has always worked in restaurants and bars and wanted to explore the beer side of the businesses after working in the wine trade for so long.

He said the process of making beer is rather simple.

At its most basic, you put the malt of different grains, mainly barley, into a mash tun and steep it in hot water for an hour.

You then boil the resulting sticky liquid (wort) for an hour before cooling it and fermenting for a week.

The most challenging part of this process is the precision involved, said Ed.

“Timings have to be really precise if you’re going to get good beer,” he said, adding that correct temperatures and cleanliness are vital too.

The most rewarding part of the process, said Ed, is the final product and it is a process that people can try at home too.

“You can start of basically with a malt extract pack where you add hot water and yeast and brew a classic beer,” he said.