Brighton Bier is the result of three friends coming together with a combined passion for beer and a shared ambition to play a lead role in the revival of the city’s once proud and independent commercial brewing heritage, and put Brighton firmly back on the brewing map. Brighton Bier are embracing the attitude, ingredients and flavour profiles of the progressive beer styles from Belgium, North American and beyond but in a way that respects the character and historical integrity of British ale. All in all, it’s a simple plan: brew great beer!
Who are you and what do you do? I’m Gary Sillence. Head Brewer and founder of Brighton Bier.
How did you get into this line of work? Apparently “aspiring snowboard bum” wasn’t considered a career by my friends and family. I had spent a lot of time exploring my passion for beer in Belgium and the USA so decided to train professionally as a brewer with the ambition to bring brewing back to Brighton.
What was the inspiration for starting the brewery? Historically Brighton had enjoyed a rich brewing heritage with brewhouses and malt stores all across town. But like so many cities this had been eroded to zero by the power of national and regional brewers. A lot of brands were masquerading (and still do) as being from Brighton but no one was actually brewing beer in the city. I felt that a city as independent and vibrant as Brighton deserved and would support an independent craft brewery.
What’s the story behind the brewery name and logo? The unusual spelling of “Bier” is a nod to our Flemish inspiration and an obvious play on Brighton Pier. It also allowed us to successfully apply for a trademark which gives us some protection from outside breweries attempting to exploit the Brighton “brand”.
As well as the brewery name (in two proprietary fonts) the brewery logo also includes a seagull’s head, a Brighton architectural detail and a mountain landscape. The latter is a nod to the South Downs as well as my love for the mountains and snowboarding. (Although most people think it’s just the seagull’s wings!)
Where do you see, or hope to see, the brewery in 5 years’ time? Demand for and interest in craft beer has accelerated way beyond my expectations when we started brewing in 2012. Brighton has an extreme shortage of commercial property (it took us 2 years to find our existing site) so growing the brewery organically is going to be a big challenge. With our local distribution and existing national and export sales we are already at maximum capacity. I’m wary of the current arms race to raise as much money and produce as much beer as possible (often to the detriment of beer quality) but at the same time obviously we can’t stand still. The provenance, quality and integrity of our offering have always been of absolute importance so hopefully we can find the right location and partners to develop the brewery in the future.
Looking ahead, what new things can we expect from Brighton Bier over the coming months? Hopefully more and ever better beer.
Are there any other breweries which have influenced you? Of course. The list is endless. From the simple perfection of Duvel Moortgat or Weihenstephaner, to the eccentric creativity of De Dolle, or the myriad American craft breweries who’ve built sizeable businesses without compromising their beer quality or brand integrity.
What do you think makes a great beer? Balance and creativity (in that order).
What drink can you no longer face having had one too many? Alcohol free beer. (I had one.)
What is your favourite style of beer? I’ll respectfully plead the Fifth.
What is the silliest thing you’ve done whilst drunk? Many years ago, whilst looking for the bathroom in the dark, I locked myself out of a hotel room in the Hilton Brighton Metropole. Halfway through urinating in a hallway plant pot the lift on our floor rang which was awkward enough. Then I had to go to the lobby in my pants for a replacement key only to find a massive queue at 3am! Whilst waiting in line an attractive hen party returned to the hotel. I remember thinking “…this could be interesting”. Optimism personified!
You are stuck on a desert island, what three things are you taking with you? Malt, hops and yeast.
Thanks to Gary! Browse and purchase Brighton Bier here.