One brewery that is often seen around these parts but seems to get little recognition is Dark Star of Sussex. Their 'Hophead' is often to be found in the Kings Head and they now have a dedicated pump in The Grove. In addition a couple of their beers have been guesting in The Star in the last few days. So what do we know about them?
The brewery started in the cellar of the Evening Star pub in Brighton as a hobby but soon demand was such that they needed larger premises and they moved in 2001 to a purpose built 15 barrel plant in Haywards Heath. Earlier this year they tripled their capacity after another move, this time to an industrial estate in Horsham.
Like most breweries they have a core range with seasonals and monthly specials. Many of their beers are widely available, and in my opinion, rarely fail to impress. The Good Beer Guide lists six, all of differing styles, and their website lists many more.
The aforementioned 'Hophead' is one of their more popular beers. Described as having 'a fruity/hoppy aroma' and a 'citrus/bitter taste' it covers most bases that the hoppy drinker requires. I am more interested in their less common beers though. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, their 'Tripel' is a superb beer but a bit hefty at 8.5%, but if you want something a little less taxing then they brew 'American Pale IPA' at 4.7%, full of American hop flavour as would be expected from Chinook and Centennial.
At this time of year 'Hylder Blonde' makes an appearance; a 4.2% elderflower beer, delicate and lightly hopped, ideal for a warm evening. This is backed up by 'Espresso', again 4.2% but dark and rich and enhanced with real espresso coffee beans, and has previously been voted 'The World's Best Speciality Beer'. 'Winter Meltdown' will also be around soon, which has a subtle ginger and spicey background taste. If you want the full list of available and upcoming beers, their website is more than informative.
The brewers are certainly not afraid to experiment with hops and styles either. Their beers cover the whole range of hops currently available, from the English to the New World and they mix malts to recreate old forgotten classics. They also use foreign yeasts to brew authentic style foreign specialities. All in all, a very consistent brewery, whether the beer be light, dark or something in between. Long may they prosper.