TThe best place to own a brewery? East Sussex microbreweries experienced a 1,500 per cent growth year on year, outperforming every other UK county.
A study, by business finance specialist Rangewell, found that the craft beer industry in East Sussex showed 25 per cent better revenue growth than Greater London. With a combined turnover of £2.5m, high growth areas include Heathfield, Brighton, Forest Row, Rye and Bexhill-on-Sea The single highest revenue growth was 655 per cent, in Heathfield.
East Sussex is fast becoming a beer enthusiasts paradise. The county currently has a total of 33 breweries, which equates to 6.4 breweries per 100,000 people. In comparison to London’s 0.4 breweries per 100,000 people.
Cllr Rupert Simmons, East Sussex County Council lead member for economy, said: “Helping small businesses such as microbreweries to set up is a key part of our work to boost economic growth and job creation. We have made funding available through our East Sussex Invest and South East Business Boost schemes for this purpose, and through Business East Sussex we offer a ‘one-stop shop’ providing business advice and support services to small businesses.”
“In the last four years, £180,000 grants or loans has been provided to help six micro-breweries start up or develop in East Sussex, helping them to grow and to create 20 new jobs. Some of the breweries we’ve supported have won international awards and we’re delighted with their success.”
“In largely rural areas such as East Sussex, helping small businesses to develop and thrive is vital and the rapid growth of this sector in the county is a real economic success story in which we’re proud to have played a part.”
Mark Berry, Co-Founder and Director of Gun Brewery in East Sussex, says “East Sussex has a long history of brewing and a long established beer culture. Craft beer is really just the latest chapter. Any brewery starting out here is entering a market that’s comfortable trying new beers and supportive of new enterprises. At the same time, it is also demanding when it comes to quality.”
He adds, “Entering a strong local market that demands quality makes sure that brewers are on their game. This, in turn, is a great platform for national growth. Once you’ve tried an IPA, made from Sussex Spring water, alive with lip-tingling tropical fruit and citrus flavours, or a complex warming stout, why would you drink anything else!?”
Wild growing hops were discovered in East Sussex in 2005. Named the Sussex Hop, they were found to be ideal for brewers thanks to their resistance to both mildew and wilt. Local brewery, Harvey’s, uses the Sussex Hop which boasts earthy, grassy aromas in its award-winning Wild Hop beer. Local breweries are also catering to more specific tastes, such as Bartleby’s Brewery which offers vegetarian brews and Gun Brewery which caters to the vegan and gluten-free market.
In 2015, the number of breweries in the South East Region grew from 133 to 192, a 44 per cent increase from 2013. 153% more than those that opened in London.
The South East is the second most affluent region in the UK, after London, with an average household disposable income of between £35-40k,and with accessibility to London, it is attracting young people, often those who leave good paying jobs to start their own small business ventures.