While finalising some bottle labels and pump clips, we took the chance to ask David a few questions about his brewing career, the beers he brews, and his his exciting new Southsea Castle-based brewing venture.
What’s your history with brewing — how long have you been doing it, and what got you into it in the first place?
I’ve been homebrewing for quite a few years, since university, doing it in my kitchen. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I moved into a house with a garage and it became a bit more serious, because the garage became the brewery.
At that point I was working up in London and not really enjoying my job that much, so I took a bit of a gamble and got a job working in a brewery. I worked in a few different breweries, just helping out for a few days here and there, and then one of them offered me a full-time position, which I pursued.
Since then, I’ve been working there part-time whilst building Southsea Brewing Co., and recently I decided to take it full-time. I found the premises through Portsmouth City Council, and the council have helped a little bit with getting it all set up.
Now we’re here, and we’re ready to open!
What’s unique about Southsea Brewing Co. — the beer, the brand — and how does Southsea Castle lend itself to your brewery?
Portsmouth is really such a great place for beer — it’s a densely-populated city and there’s lots of people who like beer, and there are loads of pubs. But there aren’t too many breweries, though there is a big history of brewing in Portsmouth.
Setting up a brewery in such a richly historical place as Southsea Castle feels like I’m bringing back a bit of Portsmouth history. By doing this in Southsea Castle, it’s like we’re putting another page in the story of the castle itself, which is cool.
It’s a very unique place to have a brewery, and the surroundings have influenced the beer as well — we have beers that are good for chilling out on the beach, and relaxing on the common with a barbecue, and some for when it’s not so nice outside and you’re hidden away in the pub to escape the weather.
What’s unique about the beers is, I put a lot of effort into finding the best ingredients from around the world. We always use natural ingredients — we don’t use corns or syrups or anything like that. All of the hops are from around the world. We find new varieties of hops which people aren’t really using that much, and we can experiment, because we’re such a small brewery.
The beers are full of flavour. We don’t use any finings — so we don’t put in any fish guts! — because we prefer to keep beers as natural as they should be. We think it gives it a better flavour, and everyone who’s tried our beers agrees.
Going forward, after the launch, you’ve mentioned plans to create limited-edition beers, partnering with local artists for special labels — can you tell me a little bit about that?
The great thing about Southsea is, there’s a huge amount of creative people, and lots of other businesses are starting up, and I really love the idea of working with people who are doing unique special things like restaurants and menus with really interesting menus.
People who are making artisan products, for example, such as BREAD Addiction on Elm Grove, or some of the places which focus on just making really good coffee. I want to work with people like that to get a bit of the best of both, and I think beer is a good medium for integrating flavours.
You can take on a lot of other flavours and influences and put them into beer, and the actual label for the beer can be the perfect platform for putting forward people’s artwork. If an artist has an idea for what a beer could look like, they can design it, and we can make the beer that suits their taste. Collaborations like that are what we’re all about as a community-focused brewery.
We’re quite keen to work with chefs to integrate different flavours into beers that can then belong to their menus, matching the beers to the food.
We also want to help anyone who needs beer for an event, like weddings — we’re excited for people to come down to the brewery and get involved in the process of creating beers for their events or intimate celebrations.
Stay in the know about Southsea Brewing Co. over on their Facebook page, and RSVP to the launch event on July 17th to let your friends know you’re going »