I’m Gary Sillence, 47 – I think –, and I’m the brewer and founder of Brighton Bier.
When was Brighton Bier founded?
Apparently ‘aspiring snowboard bum’ wasn’t considered a career by my friends and family so I had to look at a proper job.
I’d spent a lot of time exploring my passion for beer in Belgium and the USA so in 2011 I decided to train professionally as a brewer with the ambition to bring brewing back to Brighton.
There was an amazing old brew kit sitting idle in the Hand In Hand pub in Kemp Town. I did a deal with the owner to renovate the brewery and brew some house beers for them and use the spare capacity to launch Brighton Bier with our first beers pouring in 2012.
We also had a great little pilot brew kit (literally) in a shed down the side of the pub on Marine Gardens and would occasionally annoy the neighbours with the aromas.
How has Brighton Bier developed?
After years of searching, we finally found a suitable site near Brighton Marina to build our own brewery in 2014 and are still brewing there today albeit with a shiny new brew kit which allows us to expand our range of beers.
We also operate two pub – the Brighton Bierhaus on Edward Street and the Haus On The Hill on Southover Street. Shortly we’ll be opening a beachfront shop near the i360 selling cold beer and merchandise.
How has the craft beer scene developed over the past decade?
The local craft beer scene in Brighton – like everywhere else I guess – continues to go from strength-to-strength. I think there are now around seven active breweries or brew-pubs in the city alone and many, many more elsewhere across Sussex.
To be honest this isn’t really something I anticipated at the outset. There wasn’t really a craft beer scene and it certainly wasn’t considered cool. I just had a desire to make and drink better beer.
Do you work with other local craft brewers?
Collaboration in the craft beer scene has always been a big thing. At the outset it was about helping source raw materials or bouncing ideas around about new recipe ideas. Now it’s also a great way to help promote your brands in a crowded market and compete with the big guys.
What’s your proudest business achievement?
Last year one of our Fat Boy Stout won overall best Milk Stout at the World Beer Awards. That was a pretty big deal. We’d won a few UK Golds before but never the overall title. It’s a super credible competition and the beers are blind-tasted by some of the top people in the industry.
Tell us about the taproom at the brewery…
Our new taproom is a great way to engage with customers and for them to see the brewery and taste the freshest brews. We’ve done a total renovation of our site and it’s a really cool looking space inside and out. Beer lovers can join us every Thursday and Friday from 5pm - 10pm and Saturday’s from 1pm. It can get busy so we recommend you book in advance via our website www.brightonbier.com.
Brighton Bier, Unit 10, Bell Tower Industrial Estate, Roedean Road, Brighton BN2 5RU