In 2021 a home-brewer from New York bought a struggling seaside brewery. He kept the name, and changed pretty much everything else. Fast forward a bit, and Loud Shirt has a very much different reputation. Their modern, largely US inspired craft beers are available to drink in the place they are brewed at the Bell Tower Industrial Estate in Kemptown.
The Bell Tower Industrial Estate may not sound like the most glamorous location, and it’s not, but breweries aren’t spoiled for options when it comes to Brighton. Yet Loud Shirt have done a very decent job of making their little unit feel incredibly welcoming.
The out-door area feel much more pleasant than a car park should. On busy summer days the team put out loads of benches and dividers decorated with plastic leaves. It’s subtle but gives the car park setting a softer, more comfortable feel.
Once inside the gaping shutter door, the bar is just to your right with the brewery space beyond it. The bar staff here give off some of the friendliest vibes you will get behind a bar in Brighton. There are splashes of arty colour and character in the bar area, but It’s pretty industrial feeling on the whole as the machinery that produces the beers on offer is pushed up against the surrounding walls. There is ample space for rows of bench seating so loads of capacity for groups and the taproom is incredibly popular on Saturdays when Whitehawk FC are playing at home.
Now there is only one reason you would choose to frequent an industrial estate in stead of a pub, and that is because you want to drink great modern craft beer as fresh as it gets. That is exactly what Loud Shirt offer here.
With the owner and head brewer hailing from the US, the beers coming out of Loud Shirt Brewery tend to focus on kegged, new-world, specifically US hops. Like Clockwork, at 4.3%, and Hazed & Confused, their flagship session NEIPA at 4.5%, are two great core pale ale options, massively sessionable with great hop flavour. Core beers like El Dorado showcase a single hop, impressively extracting loads of character and interest in the process. And their American light lager is an addictive thirst quencher, and a proper example of what American lager can taste like, when it isn’t mass produced like all the American lagers on the supermarket shelves.
A thoughtful process and a no compromise approach to good ingredients are key to why Loud Shirt beer has gained a following in a crowded market. Head Brewer Elias’ engineering background means he’s a thinker & tinkerer, and their EXP series of experimental short-run styles give him the licence to offer drinkers something in the taproom that might test their palettes. The brewery team constantly engage their audience over the bar, looking for feedback to take their brewing forward and perhaps launch their next core product. For instance EXP01 is a darker pale ale which started as an experiment, but after consistent acclaim became a regular.
There’s no kitchen on site but they do invite food trucks down to provide sustenance to the masses. Probably best to message them in advance to make sure if you’re planning to eat here.
Friday evenings the tap-room hosts an open mic night and the first Saturday of the month you’ll find live DJs.
Loud Shirt have very quickly injected themselves into the local East Brighton community, and not just because that makes good business sense. You get a genuine feeling that the Loud Shirt team are a big happy family, and they only want to grow that family large by befriending as many people as possible. From lower-league football fans to DJs and acoustic musicians, everyone feels very welcome in this little industrial unit. Of course It helps that their beers really are impressive and I have become a big fan of their brews as well as the people behind them.
Trust the people of Lewes – whose appetite for burning authority figures is displayed every November – to name a pub after a once outlawed, 18th century political treatise. Thomas Paine, the revered writer in question, liked nothing more than a good muse about the merits of rising up in arms against overbearing Governments. The Rights of Man Lewes is named after the 1791 paper he penned, and also celebrates an ex-Lewes resident. Yes, Mr Paine once resided up the road in Bull House, and attended meetings and moulded his philosophies at inns such as the White Hart over the Road.
The Rights of Man Lewes really is colourful addition to Lewes High Street these days, with it’s green tiles and burgeoning baskets of flowers above the entrance. As you might expect from a Harveys pub with a historical reference, the aesthetic is traditional alehouse, totally wood clad with dark panelled walls throughout. There are a couple of tables catching the light through the windows, but otherwise the pub is fairly dimly lit throughout, and this makes the booth sections of seating across from the main bar feel dusky and intimate.
I hear that this pub got a total makeover in 2012. Having not visited before I expect the current look and fixtures of the pub are not very old at all and not until you get to the rear dining room of the pub do you feel the pub is more original. Apparently this was a separate back bar for a while before being joined into one pub and now the rear room is reached through a little corridor chicane. This back room feels like a dining area with lots more tables and chairs and room for larger groups.
In this room is a mural of a court room by local painter Julian Bell, apparently added because the pub is next door to Lewes Crown Court, but Julian also painted the mural of Thomas Paine in a passage near Lewes’ market, so this ties in neatly both local art and history.
The real niche of this pub is it’s fantastic terrace space upstairs. The first time you discover it is like finding a hidden Lewes gem; few pubs offer you an elevated sun-trap quite like this and it even comes with partial views of Lewes castle down the road. There are plenty of tables and chairs and it understandably gets very popular on sunny days.
Being a Harvey’s pub there are no prizes for guessing what you’ll find in the lines. There’s an impressive 6 cask pumps on the bar, so even on a bad day you should have a decent selection to choose from on the trad ale front. Being just uphill from the brewery should always have the current month’s special seasonal beer on as well.
On the taps you can get hold of Harvey’s keg options such as their Wharf IPA and their really very good Polish hopped Pilsner which Harvey’s started making in recent years. Other options include mass brands such as Camden Hells and Guinness.
The pub also specialises in Gins as well, with a number of tonics and garnishes to suit.
Over various visits I have been really impressed by the consistency of the food at The Rights of Man Lewes. Whether it’s Sunday Roast, the tapas menu, burgers, sandwiches or the pub classics, the Menu is crammed full of options you cannot go wrong with and portions are reasonably priced.
There’s a lot to like about this pub. Service is friendly, the aesthetics are nice and the roof terrace is a massive plus. The historical nod to a Lewes resident, who stood up for everyday people’s rights, is a nice touch and it inspired me to do a bit of reading. In fact I’m half tempted to pinch a quote from Mr Paine as the slogan for this pub exploring blog; “Ignorance is of a peculiar nature: once dispelled, it is impossible to re-establish it.”
59 Queens Road
An independent tap bar with an easy-going charm
There’s an unassuming bohemian, almost Parisian vibe at the Idle Hands Brighton. It’s a good use of limited space with a variety of seasoned Chesterfield sofas, low sitting tables, some booth seating in the windows plus a few stools surrounding large barrels inside and out to perch your pint on. The all-important bar sits at the back, tucked into the corner, surveying proceedings.
If you’re looking for keg craft concoctions, you’ll be very happy here: there are ten taps with a rotating array of local brews and out-of-towners. These are poured by friendly and knowledgeable bar staff who seem happy to chat about their favourites and offer tastings. There are bottles and cans available as well, but no cask ale on pump.
There are no food options on our visit; we will update if we hear that a new kitchen has moved in.
If you’re picking a night to visit Idle Hands Brighton then we can strongly recommend the off-kilter, gypsy rock live music Thursdays, hosted by The Jones Street Boys.