Breweries

The Rock Brewery – smashed apart. The Anchor Brewery – dropped to the ground. The Phoenix Brewery – unlikely to be rising from the rubble. The long list of the great breweries of Brighton, Hove and Portslade is a series of obituaries.

Whilst preparing to research the history of the Duke of York’s Picture House recently, I remembered that the site had once been home to a massive brewery. The brewery must have been large for it also encompassed the land on which Preston Circus Fire Station stands today. There was once a number of breweries locally and I’ve inadvertently written about many of them previously whilst focusing on what the sites are used for now.

Even at the top of my road in Hove, there was a brewery. It stood at the top of Osborne Villas (Osborne Street at the time) and extended into Church Road like a ‘bunion’. It was demolished to aid traffic flow. Another example, Portslade Brewery, is a towering yellow brick building in the Old Village that is today home to Le Carbone, a French manufacturer of specialist electrical products. Thankfully, the entire main building remains intact. In Brighton, reminders remain of the Phoenix Brewery which was just off the Lewes Road behind Richmond Terrace. Tamplin Terrace, Malthouse Lane, Phoenix Place, and, indeed, the Phoenix Brewery Halls of Residence were all named after the successful business when the site was ‘developed’.

Although Cologne is four times the size or Brighton & Hove, it is interesting to compare the two. With Germany third in the world and the UK sixth in terms of beer drunk per capita, one would expect similarities in scales of production. On a recent trip to Cologne, however, I discovered the city boasts fourteen brewers of Kölsch, the local brew, alone. I’m not aware of any breweries operating in Brighton & Hove today.

Much alcohol is consumed in Brighton every night but where does it all come from? The award-winning vineyards of Sussex are now competing internationally and Harveys in Lewes is, of course, a local success story but the majority of what is drunk locally is by no means local.

At a time when Brighton’s industry is pretty much all gone and local produce is, on the surface anyway, desirable, it would be great to see more local producers. Is it red tape, competition law, health & safety law or just consumers’ drinking habits?