We had the pleasure of escaping the daily grind of the warehouse and cyberspace to hop down to Partridge Green in West Sussex for a visit to the Dark Star Brewing Co. Born in the Evening Star pub in Brighton, Dark Star has been brewing award winning cask ales and craft beer in the heart of Sussex for 20 years. The guys quickly moved from the pub (a pub they still own) as demand outstripped supply, first to Ansty near Haywards Heath and then on to today’s bigger operations in Partridge Green, outside Horsham.
The brewing team, led by head brewer Andy Paterson, were at the end of a massive brew of Hophead a perennial favorite and just getting ready for the 2nd brew of the day. They we’re kind enough to give a quick tour, let us taste the current seasonal brews (wow that Critical Mass was awesome!) and answer some questions, before we adjourned to The Partridge Pub in the village (which by the way is effectively the Dark Star tap room) for a proper meeting.
How Big Is Dark Star?
Currently we brew about 5 million pints a year. We have about 30 staff and we run 2 pubs. We’re starting to out grow the current brewery site and are looking to move to a bigger location.
What’s The Range of Beers?
We normally brew 25 different beers throughout the year. This includes the permanent range, a seasonal range and monthly specials. For Christmas this year we have a new brew available Crème Brulee and the Critical Mass. [btw - you see can the range here.]
What Style of Beers Do You Produce?
The majority of our beer is in cask, but we also do kegs and bottles. We also supply mini-kegs, which are popular in the brewery shop and we will be looking into craft cans later in 2015.
Looking Ahead to 2015, What New Stuff Can We Expect?
We’d like to do collaboration with one of the US craft brewers and also brew again with some old friends, maybe the likes of Magic Rock. And there’s the new brewery location, maybe canning and thinking up some new recipes – as always!
When You’re Not Drinking Dark Star, Who’s Beers Do You Like?
Well there are a lot. To name a few we like drinking Magic Rock, Downland, Surrey Hills, The Kernel and Burning Sky.
Is there any rivalry with Burning Sky (Mark is the ex Dark Star Head Brewer)?
No, not at all, Mark’s a great guy, brewing and blending the beers he is passionate about. We’ve been really impressed with every beer we’ve tasted of his since leaving us.
Can People Get Brewery Tours?
Yes, those are on Saturdays. You need to book in advance. All the details are on the website.
Dark Star also have a great shop, where you can get fresh growlers of beer to take home, bottles and merchandise. It is open Monday – Saturday [Here’s the map].