Friends Toby Smallpeice and Mark Berry have created something really rather good somewhere really rather special with Gun Brewery. Situated on a 140-acre organic mixed farm in the Sussex Weald, the brewery is housed in a converted barn. To say that it’s a labour of love (or at least toil) is an understatement. It took Mark and Toby the best part of 18 months to install all the pipework and kit in order to get the brewery up and running.
There’s a strong environmental ethos throughout their operation. The water for the beer comes from a spring source deep below the farm and a solar array lends much of the power needed to make the beer. Additional heating comes from a wood powered boiler and the spent grains are used to keep the local livestock happy. If the outdoor clothing company Patagonia were a brewery it might look a lot like Gun.
Brewing expertise comes in the form of “Pete the Brewer”. Pete spent time learning to brew in the crucible of brewing that is Sheffield, with time at both Thornbridge and Magic Rock. Pete has beer for blood and rumour has it that he sleeps in a bed made entirely of malt sacks.
If Pete strikes you as a bit of a hobo character then that might go some way to explaining the curious brewery symbol. Mark explains;
“It’s an old hobo sign that means Man With Gun Lives Here. A hobo was simply a migratory labourer: he may have taken some longish holidays but sooner or later he returned to work. To help cope with its uncertainties, hobos developed a system of signs, which they would chalk on walls to provide directions, information and warnings to others.”
Tonight’s beer, Dunkel Weisse is the Sussex based outfits take on a traditional German beer style. Dunkel Weisse translating from German as dark wheat is characterized by its smooth malty flavour. Guns interpretation turns things up a notch with no less than seven different malts going into the brew. The wheat adds notes of banana and clove, helping to balance the richer flavours of the roasted malts. A subtle spiciness on the finish makes this beer perfect for a brisk January evening.