Portsmouth has a long brewing history and has been home to a number of sizeable brewing operations over the years. Sadly, the city’s last substantial brewhouse, Brickwood’s of Queen Street, Portsea, was closed by Whitbread in 1981, though Portsea Island has seen a number of microbreweries come and go in more recent times (see the Lost Breweries page). After an absence of any production for a few years, 2007 saw Portsmouth once again become a brewing city with the opening of Irving & Co in Farlington. Since that time we have seen a resurgence of interest in quality cask beer in the city and a growing number of brewing operations are now emerging.
Irving & Co. Brewers Ltd.
Unit G1 Railway Triangle, Walton Road, Farlington, PO6 1TQ
023 9238 9988
Portsmouth’s largest current brewing venture was the brainchild of former Gale’s employee Malcolm Irving following his departure from the defunct Horndean-based company. After many months attempting to secure a suitable site for the brewery, a small unit on Farlington’s Railway Triangle Industrial Estate was found in the Autumn of 2007 and Irving beers appeared on the bars of pubs in the local area in early December of that year. The first beer to leave the brewery was Red Plum, a 5% Christmas Ale that has since gained something of a cult following. Regular brews Invincible and Frigate were launched soon after. A third permanent ale by the name of Type 42 was unveiled in July 2008 and Admiral Stout completed the core range of beers. In the intervening years a large number of seasonal ales have been rolled out of the brewery, with virtually all being linked by a naval theme. As well as these, Irving teams up with Southsea-based organization Strong Island on an annual basis to judge the latter’s home brewers’ competition, with the lucky winner having the opportunity to have their ale commercially produced at the brewery for distribution around local pubs.
In late 2011 Irving, together with its collaborating graphics company (IG Designs) won a prestigious award for the brewery’s pump clip designs from the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA).
Irving beers are now sold to pubs across five counties and a good number of houses within the city boundary take the ales regularly. Beer swaps with other companies also means that Irving ales are sometimes found as far away as the north west and even Scotland. Off-sales are available at the brewery (see website). Brewery tours can also be taken, by prior arrangement. The company hosts the popular annual Portsea Island Beer Festival, held each October at the Groundlings Theatre in Portsea, which raises a good amount of money for deserving local charities.
Brewhouse & Kitchen
The White Swan, 26 Guildhall Walk, Portsmouth, PO1 2DD
023 9289 1340
Set up in the bar of the White Swan on Guildhall Walk following the sale of the pub by national pub chain J D Wetherspoon, Brewhouse & Kitchen operates a compact, three barrel brew plant, on which is produced a number of cask ales that are sold in-house. Opened to the public in March 2013, this was the first in a chain of sixteen brewpubs that now cover an area from Dorchester in the south west to Chester in the north.
The names of the core beers were originally influenced by Portsmouth-related people or companies and are generally only available at the White Swan and at local beer festivals. Up to four brews are available at the pub at any one time, with occasional and one-off beers regularly seen on the pumps. Take-home beer is also available in a variety of different sized containers including five litre mini kegs. The company also offers ‘Brewer for a Day’ events whereby a small group of people can pay to produce their own beer at the pub.
The regular beers include a range of pale ales, bitters, milds, stouts and porters.
Staggeringly Good Beer
Unit 3, St George’s Industrial Estate, Rodney Road, Fratton, PO4 8SS
023 9229 7033
Shop/tap room opening hours: Thu Fri 14:00 ’til 19:00; Sat 10:00 ’til 18:00.
Staggeringly Good was set up in 2014 as a brewer and mail order supplier of small batch bottle conditioned craft ales. The house style is of characteristically well-hopped beers, such as American pale ales. Beers are available from a small number of Portsmouth pubs, including the Leopold Tavern, ABarBistro, Admiral Drake and Hole In The Wall. The company also produces cask versions of the beers to order.
Not owning its own brew kit, Staggeringly Good started out as a ‘cuckoo brewery‘ producing all its beers on Brewhouse & Kitchen’s plant at the White Swan, Guildhall Walk. In the summer of 2015 the company acquired its own unit on Rodney Road, Milton, with the brewery becoming operational in early 2016. The site is open to the public and includes a brewery shop and tap room (see times above).
Urban Island Brewing Co.
Unit 28, Limberline Spur, Hilsea, PO3 5DZ
023 9266 8726
This family-run venture launched in June 2015 from an industrial unit in Hilsea and is the first stand-alone commercial brewery on Portsea Island for many years. The first brew to be released was DSB (Dolly’s Special Bitter), a 4.6% IPA, brewed to commemorate the 100th birthday of the brewer’s grandmother. A second ale, High & Dry (5.5%) was introduced soon after and is already gaining critical acclaim from drinkers across the city. The third brew, Amarillo (a 5.0% American style pale ale) was launched in October 2015, followed by 28 Porter (5.0%).
A small bottling plant shall be introduced in due course and the company plans to offer visitors to the brewery the opportunity to drink on-site, with patio-style seating at the front of the premises.
Southsea Brewing Co.
Casemate 7, Southsea Castle, Clarence Esplanade, Southsea PO5 3PA
This tiny 18 gallon brewery was set up in 2014 by keen home brewer David Eastwood, operating from a private address on Devonshire Avenue, Southsea. The first beer, High Tide IPA (5.4%), was launched at the Portsmouth Beer Festival, held at the Guildhall in May 2015, with a bottled beers also supplied for the Americas Cup sailing event that took place on the Solent in July of that year. Mango Wheat Bier was launched at the 2015 Portsmouth CAMRA Beerex and was the first ale to sell out at the event. A third beer, SSB – a premium, well-hopped bitter – was showcased at the Portsea Island Beer Festival in October. A milk stout and a porter have since followed. All beers are unfined and therefore suitable for vegetarians.
On 30th October 2015 Southsea Brewery secured a lease on Casemate 7 within Southsea Castle, where the public are able to purchase take-home beer in bottles and mini kegs. The shop is open on Saturdays and Sundays throughtout the Spring and Summer months from 12:00 ’til 16:00 (2017 season starts 25th March).