Over the last few years, I have visited numerous breweries around the world, sampling many a tasty craft beer along the way. It was the breweries in Canada that first transformed me from a dedicated cider drinker to a real ale fan and I’ve developed a particular liking for full-bodied porters. So, having visited breweries as far afield as Slovenia and India, I thought it was high time I stopped by to check out what was on offer locally. I’ve been delighted to discover that the craft beer revolution is just as well represented in Sussex as it is anywhere else in the world!
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Langham Brewery, Lodsworth
If I had to sum up my visit to Langham in one word it would undoubtedly be passion. I’ve never met such a friendly bunch of people with so much passion for what they do. Using only the finest of hops and mainly UK sourced malts, their beers are cask conditioned, a more traditional method which gives a longer shelf life and more importantly better beer. Coupled with their dedication and drive this all translates into some pretty impressive beers. The awards they have accrued over the years are a testament to this, most notably they recently beat the fierce competition from other local breweries in the South East of England to become… Overall GOLD Winner of the regional Society of Independent Brewers – South East.
Going back over the years, it all started in the garage of James Berrow. Together with his friend Steve Mansley, he spent some 25 years brewing beers and they gained quite a reputation for their home brew. Eventually, the time was right to take their hobby to the next level.
above: Owners James and Lesley in their brewery in Lodsworth on the Cowdray Estate in West Sussex
James’ partner Lesley Foulkes, whose background in business proved invaluable, joined the team and, with the support of the Cowdray Estate, they set up their 10 barrel plant in an 18th-century granary barn in the village of Lodsworth between the historic market towns of Petworth and Midhurst.
The first of their cask conditioned ales, Sundowner and Halfway to Heaven, were a great success. But it was their third beer, Hip Hop, that proved to be the first in a long line of award-winning beers when it was named ‘Beer of the Festival’ at Western Sussex CAMRA in both 2007 and 2008.
Steve has since retired but, together with James and Lesley, today’s team consists of Head Brewer, Saulo and his assistant Scott, Jim the drayman and sales supervisor, Martyn, and last but definitely not least, Alfie… the boss (aka the brewery’s dog, a friendly black Patterdale!).
If you are in the area, I strongly recommend you pop by and visit their beer shop or, if you know in advance you’ll be that way, why not book a tour of the brewery? The tour lasts a couple of hours and gives you plenty of opportunities to taste the beers. I’ve not tasted them all (yet!), but LSD (Langham’s Special Draught 5.2% ABV) is my favourite to date. Glenn, from My World of Beer, described it as “a lovely copper coloured beer with sweetness from the malts being the dominant force. There was a little richness to it making it quite warming as it went down with a spicy bite to it in the dry finish. A lovely beer.”
I was delighted to see bottled LSD in my local Co-op, together with their hoppy Hip Hop and their golden ale, Sundowner.
Live at Langhams this August
The brewery regularly holds events, the next being ‘Live at Langhams’ — a music and beer festival on Saturday 26th August. It’s free to attend, but there will be plenty of opportunities to donate to this year’s charity, The South Downs Way. There will plenty of great beer, a few ciders, wines and soft drinks and some fabulous local food, including a hog roast as well as vegetarian options. And of course, music from over 10 bands including the superb EMMAY, a family trio from Liphook who I’ve been lucky enough to catch a number of times and I’m really looking forward to seeing again. Aimée Mackenzie’s beautiful voice and guitar may take the lead, but she is most aptly supported by sister Freya’s exquisite violin playing and delicious vocal harmonies. Brother Ross on Cajon completes the siblings’ huge skill set throughout their repertoire of mainly self-penned songs.
Bonkers for Conkers in October