And with a new brewery opening every other day in the UK, there’s plenty to try.
Look hard though and you’ll also find lots of beers to try from established brewers. One of these is Sussex’s Franklins brewery.
Previously known as Whites, it changed moniker to Franklins in 2010. Since then it’s switched ownership a couple of times.
Steve Mednuik is the current head brewer. After leaving a career in the music industry while still in his 30s, Steve cut his brewing teeth at the well-known Dark Star brewery, also in Sussex.
Franklins brews five core beers, including a pale ale (Franklins Pale) and a golden ale (English Garden) as well as several seasonal ales and a pilsner.
With a little help from my wife Tiff, I recently sampled three of Franklins’ bottled beers over a weekend – “Citra IPA” (5.5%), “Mama Knows Best” (4.1%) and “Old Smokey” (5%). All three of these beers are available in casks too, where available.
I’m clearly biased. But a lot of my favourite beers are from my home county of Hampshire. I was keen to try some brews from over the border in Sussex to broaden my horizons a bit.
Citra IPA (5.5%)
I think pale ales go nicely with fish and chips. So I cracked open the Citra IPA with a Friday night takeaway.
As the name suggests, this beer is an IPA flavoured by American Citra Hops. Hardened craft beer fans will know that Citra Hops, which have a fruity aroma and flavour, are hard to come by at the moment. Franklin have managed to secure a batch to see them through the rest of the year.
The first thing I noticed about this beer was the gorgeous smell, which included a hint of elderflower and caramel. Tiff remarked that it “smelt like summer”. I can certainly picture myself sitting in the back garden on a warm evening sipping this beer.
Its colour – a light ruby – was also different to what I expected to find when I poured this beer. It tasted good too – refreshing with a mild bitter aftertaste.
Mama Knows Best (4.1%)
Mama Knows Best is Franklins’ traditional best bitter. It’s quite dark with a smooth, malty aroma. Tiff described it as a woody smell.
Taste-wise, it’s quite refreshing for a best bitter with a nice sharp aftertaste. I reckon it would go well with a juicy beef burger or a rich beef stew. It’s definitely a beer that could rival well-known favourites like London Pride.
Old Smokey (5%)
I’ve never been very keen on porters and stouts. Recently though, I’ve come across a few interesting ones that have been fun to try.
Old Smokey is another to add to that list. Like the “Smoggy” I sampled on my recent visit to the Red Cat Brewery in Winchester, it’s made with beech-smoked malts. And while the smokiness isn’t as apparent as with the Smoggy, it’s there in the smell and taste along with the richness you expect in a porter.
After each sip, you also get a tingle on your lips and a warmth radiating from your chest thanks to the addition of chipotle chillis.
I’d love to try this porter with some venison sausages or a venison burger. I’m not sure I could drink too much of it though. It’s definitely not a session beer.
Tiff wasn’t keen on this one!
I really enjoyed sampling these Franklin beers.
My favourite was the Citra IPA, which I’m hoping to break out again now that summer’s on the horizon.
My only gripe about these above average beers was the simple labelling on the bottles. I reckon some branding that aligns with the cool logos on the brewery’s website would enhance the experience.
After all, these beers are easy on the nose and tastebuds. Make the bottles easy on the eyes and they’d be the complete package.
Info: Franklins Brewery is at Pebsham Farm, Pebsham Lane, Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, TN40 2RZ. Phone: 01424 731066. You can get Franklins beers on cask (and a few on keg) at various pubs throughout Sussex, London and Kent including the St Leonard Pub in Hastings and Anchored in Worthing.
Disclaimer: Franklins Brewery sent me these beers for free. Yes, free beer – the dream.