Since Locate East Sussex spoke to Brewing Brothers in 2018, a lot has changed for brothers Charlie, Ned and Billy.
Originally settled into The Imperial, winning fans with its distinctive brother-named beers to go with authentic Italian pizzas, Brewing Brothers have expanded from brewhouse to a second site in The Courtyard at Source Park, the one-of-a-kind independent food destination that recently opened on Hastings Seafront with the support of Locate East Sussex.
We caught up with the brothers to find out the journey from small-batch brewing to 2,800-litre brewery on Ivy House Industrial Estate to serve not only its premises but an entire community.
‘We increased our production capacity ninefold, and the positive word of mouth seems to have spread. We are nearly meeting capacity with every brew, we didn’t anticipate this!’Ned BraxtonCo-Owner of Brewing Brothers
As you filter through SourceBMX skate shop, making your way down the stairs of the restored former Victorian baths, and taking a right, you are leading yourself to the newest worst kept secret in Hastings. The Courtyard is a new collection of hip and upcoming businesses offering fried chicken (Bok Shop), juice and kombucha (Nelly’s) and even a coffee and barbers (Goodman’s), with European style open space and comfortable interior space for all seasons.
Today, we’re here to discover Brewing Brothers Courtyard, an oyster bar and taproom that is fast becoming one of the trendiest places to go in the area, with a wide courtyard and great interior ambience. ‘It’s a great space regardless of the weather,’ Charlie said, ‘the courtyard is sheltered from the sea, and it’s like its own climate and acts as a bit of a suntrap!’
When we first approached them to write this, there was a sense of amused surprise by Ned, ‘Wow, that was a long time ago,’ he admitted, ‘we have a lot more set hours now, but we still have time for some fun.’ Wiser but still with the spark in their ambition, the journey to create the new venture was the result of grit and growth experienced in the last few years, and an opportunity offered by one of its regular patrons.
‘What’s changed since?’ Charlie said, ‘Well, we’ve got a new brewery for starters.’ The Brewing Brothers earned the name by putting the beer in the spotlight, not just because the brewery could be agile in its experimentation but creating consistently popular brews of a high-quality right in front of its customers.
Originally, Brewing Brothers was based on the American model of the brewhouse, where pub-goers could watch both the beers and the pizzas being made (by resident brewer Billy and Italian pizza master Dan), but when the company saw how many Hastings residents and people far and wide came to support the brewery, the thought of growing Brewing Brothers was never off the table. Formulating a strategy to open more taprooms and develop its wholesale market, the company’s new ambitions could finally be realised.
As the company started making moves to expand the brand in 2020, COVID hit, but ever enterprising, Brewing Brothers walked out to the outside of the pub to take over the streets of Hastings, delivering pizzas and brews directly to old and new customers alike.
‘Honestly, Hastings has been fantastic’, Ned said, ‘and everyone really came out to support us through when we started up through to now. The word only grew and we got orders that proved that us investing into our canning line was not only feasible but necessary.’
Charlie believes a lot of the success was not just down to the beer, but rather its growing team, going from 5 to nearly 20 in the last few years across the two sites and the brewery: ‘The whole team was incredible over this last year, so much so that we gave the entire team holiday when restrictions were taken away as a way of saying thanks.’
With people requesting the Brothers’ beer at outlets across the town, and to have a supply of beer to supply both competitors and future Brewing Brother locations, Brewing Brothers discovered the opportunity to set up a 2,800-litre brewery in Ivy House Lane, Hastings, as joinery Johnson Bespoke found another property to move into.
‘We increased our production capacity ninefold,’ Ned said, ‘and the positive word of mouth seems to have spread, we are nearly meeting capacity with every brew, we didn’t anticipate this!’
With honorary brother Billy Eriksson at the helm, Brewing Brothers have expanded the variety of beers produced and exploring different flavours. Now offering kegs and cans as well as growlers, Brewing Brothers have built up the brand within and even beyond Hastings before another opportunity knocked: The Courtyard.
Local entrepreneur and frequent visitor Rich Moore, co-owner of SourceBMX with his brother, was already building the pieces to create The Courtyard as a permanent fixture after an experiment over Summer 2020, and approached Brewing Brothers.
‘Rich had, this vision around two or three years ago, and we would talk about it in a jokey fashion ‘Would you be keen (to join)…?’’ Charlie laughed, ‘It was only until the end of 2020/21 that the conversations with Rich became more serious, particularly as he and Marc (Moore) were putting together their bid for the Hastings Town Deal. It was a no-brainer, we decided to join the Courtyard.’
‘We were originally thinking of setting up another Brewing Brothers in London,’ Charlie explained, ‘We were ready to go for it, but then plans changed when the first lockdown came. I think the Courtyard is way better for us, and the space is only getting busier as word gets around.’
Brewing Brothers contacted Adam Berger from Locate East Sussex, seeing his insight as an asset over the years as the company reached significant milestones. Assisted by Adam, the brewery was able to find access to East Sussex Invest programme to make The Courtyard launch at the right place, at the right time, creating over six jobs.
Courting the right concept
The Courtyard is not a repeat of the Imperial concept, but rather an innovation for the company. As Charlie and Ned explained it to us, the Imperial is your traditional pub, where you can meet your friends and catch up with a pizza, meanwhile, The Courtyard is: ‘a destination. The Courtyard has a different, younger vibe, where the customer wants to have fun, have a cocktail and a small plate to share, and have a good time. A couple of beers, a couple oysters, and you’re on your way.’
Oysters? ‘Yeah,’ Ned explained, ‘we thought that this part of town needed a good, unique seafood offering, and Hastings never really had an oyster bar near the town centre. It’s fun, and also as seafood goes oysters are truly sustainable’.
‘I think it just strengthens Brewing Brothers to be part of a great community,’ Charlie said, ‘and certainly, we are looking at what more we can offer. What motivates us is that we don’t have time to think about what we want to do, we just do it, and while there have been challenges, I think what you see here has been worth it.’
Brewing Brothers recently hosted a launch party for the entire Courtyard, with a great party atmosphere and more events plans, Brewing Brothers are currently enjoying the success of the expansion and that we will be keeping an eye on what is up next.