Bedlam Brewery, Benchmark
Established in 2012 by the owners of the Albourne Estate, the Bedlam Brewery began life as more of a hobby; a means of getting some of the locals involved.
Enter Dominic Worrall, owner of The Bull pub in Ditchling, and the official (re)launch of Bedlam at Craft Beer Rising last February. Ably assisted by their new head brewer, the twenty something Fabio Israel (pictured below), formerly of London Fields Brewery and Bavarian beer behemoth Warsteiner. Bedlam are set to up their production threefold this year.
We got a chance to ask Dominic a few questions on Bedlam. Starting with the location...
In this day and age of craft breweries popping up in every conceivable space, what made you decide to take over an existing, albeit young, brewery as opposed to build your own from scratch?
“I was inspired about 15 years ago to create a small collection of pubs. Having witnessed the rise of the craft beer movement in the USA and its subsequent impact on the new breweries here we simply thought we could bring something else that wasn’t being represented enough in the style of beers we like to enjoy.
I met with the founders of Bedlam as part of some research prior to launching a new brewery and found that we shared the same ambitions, ethics and credentials. They were lacking in some areas, but crucially already registered as a commercial brewery, although they were not really trading at that point. The end result was that I took over the existing brewery and started transforming it into a more viable proposition.”
The brewery shares the same site as an already established vineyard / winery. How does this work?
“We have been able to share so much, from equipment through to a tasting room and event space. We hosted a small festival together last Summer and our hops are grown adjacent to the grape vines on the farm. We also installed solar power across the roof of both the winery and brewery, that supplies enough electricity to power both businesses.
We made a conscious decision to embrace the environment we live and work within. This led us to using the natural south facing roof to supply all our energy needs through our solar panels. We are able to grow some of our hops right next to the brewery, and we recycle all of our grains for free to a neighbouring farm who feeds it to his cattle. The principal being that we make as small an environmental impact as possible whilst supporting the community around us.
Lastly, we provide a unique setting at the foot of the South Downs National Park, where you can tour both an outstanding winery and Bedlam Brewery in the same visit. I don’t know anywhere in the UK that can offer the same.”
What can you tell us about this week's beer, Benchmark?
“The Benchmark is inspired by a classic Sussex ‘best bitter’, but with our own twist. This means using five separate malts including a German Melanoidin and two English Hops including Whitbread Goldings, which offer a mild clean bitterness.
When it comes to food matching the freshness of the beer offers a variety of options, but I would suggest classic Fish & Chips or lighter meats such as Chicken and Pork. It also works really well paired with mild cheeses.
As for where to drink Benchmark at its best, well it has to be at The Bull in Ditchling, our own pub and Bedlam ‘taphouse’, just a couple of miles from the brewery, with views over the South Downs.”
Who says you can’t mix beer and wine? Pah.