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Go for your Gun - The phenomenal rise of Heathfield’s microbrewer

Published on 2nd November 2017 - Last update on 5th September 2018

Beer is back in style. But while today’s drinker has tried and rejected the offerings of the big brewers, he (and she) has developed an unquenchable taste for craft beer, AKA real ale.

This is, of course, very good news for Britain’s growing army of microbrewers, and none more so than East Sussex’s Gun Brewery, which led the sector with an astonishing 655% growth.

Based on a 140-acre organic mixed farm in the Sussex Weald, Gun Brewery is a small batch brewery using sound ecological principles with traditional brewing skills. The brewery generates much of its own power from a solar array and heating comes from a wood powered boiler.

Plus – as all brewers know – water is the key to a great craft beer. Gun Brewery draws its water from its own spring source, deep below the organically farmed land. The water is microfiltered and UV treated to ensure its purity without the need for chemicals.

As well as quality ingredients, Gun Brewery’s growth is based on the simple principle of giving customers what they want. The brewery produces a range of ales, from the traditional Scaramanga 3.9%ABV Extra Pale Ale to a never-ending range of specials, including a whiskey stout, ensuring that even the most jaded drinker always has something new to try.

Catering for growing demand

Gun Brewery may be enjoying the fastest growth of all, but microbreweries are springing up everywhere from Scottish crofts to abandoned dairies in Cornwall. New breweries continue to open every month around the country – but it is East Sussex that seems to be setting the pace in microbreweries, and shows more growth than any other region in the UK.

What’s behind this focus?

Why is East Sussex home to the greatest concentration of high growth beer companies in the UK, rather than traditional brewing areas?

It looks as though there are several reasons. East Sussex has many farms that have been producing quality hops and barley for generations. Top quality and organic ingredients are easier to source, while the local water, naturally filtered by the chalk downs, is ideal for a quality brew. The low cost of suitable premises means that space for slow traditional brewing and beer conditioning is affordable.

But of course, drinkers come first

But the success of Gun Brewery is based on enthusiastic drinkers. Sussex is a predominantly rural area, with a population that is spread among Wealden villages as well as towns like Lewes and Brighton. As well as keen locals, the area is a major destination for tourists who enjoy a local ale as part of their visit.

Plus of course, the huge potential marketplace of London is only a few hours away. Gun Brewery beers are already being featured in specialist retailers and selected bars in the capital.

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Richard Mitchell

Richard Mitchell

Content writer
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