This page focuses on the brewing operations that have existed in Portsmouth since the 1960s but have since ceased production. By 1969 just a single company, Brickwood’s, remained of the many breweries that could once be found around the city. Very little evidence of these now remains, with just a handful of pubs still displaying once-popular names such as Jewell, Phœnix, Pike Spicer and Long’s. The latter company’s former bottle store still stands on Hambrook Street, Southsea.
Queen Street, Portsea
Portsmouth’s most celebrated and well-known former brewery, Brickwood’s, is a name that is familiar far beyond its former trading area. With its origins in London, members of the Brickwood family from Surrey began brewing in Portsmouth around the mid 19th century and soon established themselves as one of the largest local brewers and pub owners. In 1953 their presence became dominant with the purchase of their largest rival, Portsmouth United Breweries and the company’s estate swelled to well over 800 pubs throughout Hampshire, West Sussex and the Isle of Wight. In 1971 Brickwood’s sold up to national brewer Whitbread and a subsidiary company Whitbread Wessex was born. Brewing continued on Queen Street until 1983, at which time Whitbread pulled the plug and the brewery ceased production, with brands transferred to other Whitbread sites, such as Cheltenham (now also closed). Readers can find plenty of examples of Brickwood pub liveries elsewhere on these pages.
The bottom right-hand photograph shows the brewery’s office building that stood on Admiralty Road, at its junction with Queen Street.
Pitcroft Lane, North End
Housed in the former Lion Brewery buildings behind the newly-opened Brewery Tap pub on London Road, North End, this tiny venture became operational in 1982 and brewed a small portfolio of four ales. Sadly by 1985 owner and brewer Paul Edeson ceased brewing and now operates a Working Men’s Club in Leicestershire. The Brewery Tap was renamed simply The Tap and began stocking interesting ales from the Uley, Ringwood and Glenny breweries, among others.
Southsea Brewery’s portfolio: Bosun’s Porter (3.2%), Captain’s Bitter (3.8%), Admiral’s Ale (4.8%) and Sealord Old Ale (5.8%).
The Raven, Middle Street, Somerstown
This short-lived operation was set up at much expense by publican Tony Winfield in the back yard of his free house, The Raven in late 1995. Various brews were produced by the plant, which were only sold at the pub itself. Winfield had a perculiar policy of choosing not to promote his ales to anyone other than his regular customers – even posting a chalk board at the pub entrance proclaiming “CAMRA members – no real ale“. This selective form of doing business invariably meant that brewing became sporadic as, presumably, not enough ale could be sold to his predominantly lager-drinking regulars (the pub served no other cask ale). Brewing has long since ceased.
Beers included Winfield’s Bitter (3.7-3.9%), Winter Mild (3.9%), Stout (3.8%) and Best Bitter (4.0%).
The Wine Vaults, 41-47 Albert Road, Southsea
A four-barrel brew plant set up by local entrepreneur Mike Hughes within the Wine Vaults ale emporium in 1994. The brew line was scaled back to a two-and-a-half-barrel plant in 1996 and brewing ceased by 1999, despite plans to produce bottled ales for the export market. Beers were mainly sold at the Wine Vaults.
Beers included Impaled Ale (3.6%), Best Bitter (4.0%), Bitter ‘n’ Twisted (4.8%), Golden (5.2%).
The Fuzz & Firkin
2 Albert Road, Southsea
Part of the once prolific Firkin chain of brewpubs, this operation set up shop in the former Southsea Police Station in 1996. Unlike the majority of Firkin breweries, the brewer at this pub, Ed Anderson, produced a large number of high quality seasonal beers and one-off specials, served with no blanket pressure (unlike the method used across most of the company’s estate). A number of awards were forthcoming and when the parent company sold the chain and the brewery was closed, the brewer took his skills to the Buckland Brewery nearby (see below) and in 2000 co-founded Oakleaf Brewing in Gosport, of which he remains co-director and head brewer.
Selected beers: Truncheon Stout (3.5%), Bobbie’s Best (3.8%), Wild Oats (3.9%), Coriander Ale (4.2%), Mad Ed’s Orange Sinner Man (4.3%), Sea Mist Stout (4.5%), Brown Ale (4.6%), Aussie Ale (5.0%), Boudicea Brew (5.0%), Cuffed Ale (5.0%), Jolly Roger (5.0%), Vanilla Ice Cream Beer (5.0%), Bailed Ale (5.6%), Inspector’s IPA (6.0%),
Marco’s Wicked Winter Willy Wilter (8.4%).
5 Somers Road, Somerstown
Opened in Southsea in 1998, at the rear of the Grantham Arms pub, this company was born out of the former Packhorse Brewery from Ashford, Kent. The brewing kit was obtained from the defunct Flamingo & Firkin brewpub in Kingston-upon-Thames and produced a small number of regular ales as well as a high gravity winter beer. In 2003 the brewer retired and the company was forced to close.
Beers included Southern Star (3.5%), Best Bitter (3.8%), Donkey’s Nob (3.5%), Old Pompey (4.8%), Rudolph’s Revenge (7.9%).
The Winchester Arms, 99 Winchester Road, Buckland
Inaugruated in 1999 by local soft drinks entreprenuer Geoff Hartridge, this tiny brewery was housed in the newly-refurbished Winchester Arms, in Buckland’s terraced back streets. Formerly a run down local, the first class conversion of the pub breathed new life into the property and proved an instant success. The beers were devised and produced by the former brewer at the Fuzz & Firkin in Southsea, but unfortunately the brewing operation lasted little more than a year. The brewplant was sold to Cole’s Brewery in Carmarthanshire
Buckland beers – Best Bitter (3.8%), Invincible Stout (4.5%), Old Anvil (3.4%), Old Chapel Bitter (4.1%), True Blue (5.4%), Freckled Ale (4.5%), Stoker’s Stout (5.0%), Coriander (4.0%).