Brighton’s beer & food scene is great, with many and varied options and always something new to hunt out; there are a couple of aspects to the local scene that have really helped create the buzz around beer that exists in the city – The last couple of years has seen the rise of free-of-tie pubs, where landlords have the control to offer their own kitchens and any beer of their choice, meaning large macros can be pushed to the curb. Also, the offering of bottle shops has grown significantly, with many more beers to be found on our seaside shelves.
To help anyone new to the city (or old to it and curious to try something new!) I thought I’d list some of the pubs, bars, bottle shops and restaurants that have me excited about Brighton – my list is by no means the full story, and you might have some hidden gems I’m missing – if you do I’d love to hear about them!
So, if you live in Brighton (like me), or are just passing through, the following places are well worth a visit.
Opened in early 2017 the Bier Haus is the Tap House for local brewery Brighton Bier. The pub is free of tie and in its former incarnation sold pints under the name of The Jury’s out. A short stroll from Grand Parade, the look is sleek and simple, and they’ve done a great job keeping some of the pub’s original features. It’s clear though that the focus is on good quality beer, with a healthy helping of both cask & keg. There’s no cooked food on offer, but you can get local favourites PizzaFace delivered to your table along with bar snacks! I know I’ll be back to try more of its offerings!
I’m a frequent visitor to the Beer Dispensary, often lured in for an award winning Sunday roast courtesy of Dizzy Gull – who serve food all week long; including my particular favourites, the beer gherkins; deep fried, salty gherkins that go perfectly with a bold IPA. This is very much a traditional boozer, with a spin on the food and an interesting, ever changing beer selection. Another strength of the pub is in its relationship with some great breweries, with recent past tap takeovers / meet the Brewers with DEYA, Northern Monk, Squawk & Fourpure. They’ve a large cask and keg offering, as well as many bottles stocked in the fridge for drink in or take out – I’ve often treated myself to a lovely bottle of Cantillon. The pub has traditional features, lots of old wood & many friendly faces.
Formerly half pub, half gigantic turquoise Thai restaurant, the Pond has reopened after a full refurbishment. The Thai has been replaced with Baby Bao in the kitchen; Japanese Bao Buns & Street food, and a Sunday roast with a twist. As well as the changes in the kitchen they’ve got a new bar and look, and the pub is in a lot better shape for it. The pub is free tie and has a sweet selection on the taps, with recent beers like Cloudwaters v13, Beavertowns Bloody ‘Ell, Wylams Jakehead on cask and not to forget their own Pondwater a fantastic fruity soft pale coming in a 3.5% all day long kinda beer – I could harp on but I won’t, just pop in for a pint to see for yourself!
Sitting close to the Brighton Bier Haus makes it easy to kill two beers with one stone with a visit to Brewdog, and I’ve found with Brewdog there’s always something I want to try, or already know is a solid beer – true, their beer list has become more own brand heavy, and seems less “special” as a result, but I don’t think this is because they’ve given up; I think now there are so many spots in the city pouring quality beer, the responsibility for providing such a range no longer falls as squarely on BrewDog shoulders. The space is large with an industrial vibe, but even when busy it’s manageable and has a friendly buzz, especially on a Friday & Saturday evening. Their food is dirty but good – The last thing I ate there was for a Brewers brunch arranged by their very own Alice (Alice Likes Beer) – Waffles with fried chicken, hot sauce & maple syrup; it was a lovely plate of happiness.
These guys have an ever changing range of beers; the interesting, hard to find and unusual, as well as some nippy cider if that’s your thing. There’s a strong bottle selection for takeout or enjoying in, and as well as the downstairs bar they have an upstairs area and side room, which can be hired for events. Craft Co offer food from Sam’s Kitchen who serve up burgers & Sunday roasts that go perfectly with a pint. Although not the top of my list I do still enjoy popping in, and they’ve offered some great tap takeovers – Cantillon being the most recent example; So, if you’re looking for an interesting beer it’s worth swinging by.
The Watchmakers Arms (Hove, actually)
Technically not in Brighton, but just down from Hove train station – I couldn’t write this without mentioning them, so it’s close enough, right? The Watchmakers is a Micropub owned and run by two couples Dave, Ally, Rick & Ruth. They offer real cask ale along with wine, soft drinks, bar snacks & Mcstrongs sausage rolls. The Micropub vibe of the Watchmakers is to encourage conversation, whether with your friends or some of the friendly locals, and here you’ll soon get to know everyone! (if you’re interested in the Micropub format you can find more out about that HERE.) The Watchmakers don’t offer hot food, nor do they play music, have TVs or open all the silly hours, BUT they do offer free cheese on a Sunday afternoon – if you’re not sold now then I’ll be damned. These guys recently turned 2 years old and to celebrate they were pouring 10 rotating beers over the May bank holiday weekend, so make sure you are around for next years celebrations.
Open just over two years this little bottle shop (run by duo Nick & Jack) has come far; as well as the shop itself there have been numerous pop ups, events, and other collaborative work. The bottle shop offers a massive selection of UK, European & worldwide beers, as well as draught take outs of 4 beers at a time. If the sun’s out and you want to grab a beer and head straight to the beach – just off the seafront, these guys have you covered.
From the outside not somewhere that would immediately strike you as a specialist bottle shop, but behind the traditional off licence frontage is a mass beer offering – alongside everything else you’d expect to find in a well-stocked off licence. Steve who runs the shop manages to get hard to come by and limited edition beers, and I’ll often swing by if I’ve been looking for a special occasion beer or gift.
Hidden just over Fiveways is Hollingbury Wines, another off licence that in recent times has started to specialise in beer – stocking a solid core range and from time to time some slightly harder to come by beers.
Primarily a bottle shop selling wine, but with a twist. Seven Cellars has two keg lines for takeout -Interestingly these aren’t on the wall, but use a free standing key dispenser to offer the instore beers. The beer selection is small in comparison to the wine options but still solid, and a couple of times Seven Cellars have managed to get their hands on beer no one else in Brighton has – for example recently they had a neat selection of beerbotek cans. They have also hosted some beer tasting evenings, with a recent on being a Scandinavia brewery based night.
All the bottle shops listed here have friendly staff who are enthusiastic about their beer – and It’s good to have a selection of shops, as while they mainly stock similar beers you will find they each have something to offer the others don’t.
Need some food to balance out all the beer? I’m a big fan of good pub grub, which is easy to come by in Brighton, but if you’re looking for more of a restaurant style…
I can’t add much about these guys that’s not already been said, and if you’ve hit google for food tips around Brighton this place will be popping up. A great setting for lunch or dinner, I’d say if you’re on your own or as a couple, then try to sit at the pass; you’ll get to see the creative work of the chefs as they prepare the small plates of delicious food. One other tip when eating here – finish your meal off with a Rum Bear, a large (and delicious) gummy bear filled with… you guessed it, rum! As well as the excellent food & presentation they also have a local selection of beers to wash it all down with. You’re best to try & book to save disappointment, it’s busy!
Great Pizza, great Negronis & local beers – need I go on? Fatto Mano’s original restaurant is on London road, a couple of doors down from the Hare & Hounds pub – with another recently opened on Church Road, Hove. The staff in Fatto Mano, are friendly, caring and knowledgeable on all things Pizza – their Pizzas are simple, high quality ingredients affairs, and as well as eating in you can grab a takeout – though you’d be missing out on that Italian charm & crisp white decor.
Finally, they don’t fall into a “restaurant” category, and if you wanted to be picky I’d say they are more small pop up – but they are local and super tasty for sure.
Hungry Monkey is a Thai food pop up – Young, who’s from Thailand, used to own a small shop where she ran cooking classes, sold Thai produce and cooked up her traditional Thai dishes. The Hungry Monkey shop is no more sadly, due to a neighbour & the council, but Hungry Monkeys has found a new home – the pop up Thai restaurant opens on Portland road on Thursday, Friday & Saturday nights. I’ve written about this lovely lady & her food before HERE. The venue may not be the polished article, but Young makes good of the place considering it’s a cafe during the day – she always gives a warm welcome, wants to chat, ensures you eat something you will enjoy & is eager to please. The food very much reminds me of that I experienced when I went to Thailand, and friends we’ve taken have never been disappointed.
Trolls Pantry used to have a home within the Hobgoblin pub, London road, but no longer have a residence. Instead Trolls have set up shop in a shack next to the railway arches of Brighton Station; one thing’s not changed though – they’re still serving up local, sustainable and tasty burgers. You will also find them at local markets and events. I like what they stand for, I also like their burgers so I’d say, go!
There are many more fantastic pubs, shops, restaurants & pops ups – If I kept on I’d be writing for days so I’ll stop there, but I hope above you can find something to suit your days or nights out in the city, cheers!