Place of worship for the modern ale lover based near Billingshurst
A new landmark has appeared on the West Sussex landscape and it is one which looks certain to remain there for many years to come.
Now, after five years in the planning, the £3.5m site, which is home to four breweries, has finally opened its doors and is now producing thousands of pints of real ale and lager each week.
Although now very much in the heart of the countryside, it is an enterprise which can trace its roots to Horsham.
The Hepworth brand was born in the town in 2001 after a band of former King and Barnes employees, including chief brewer Andy Hepworth, noticed a gap in the market a year after that brewery closed.
Ever since then the new company’s output has grown at an impressive rate, meaning that it began to look for a new home away from its traditional Horsham Railway Yard site.
At the official opening of the new Stane Street centre, which includes a shop, Mr Hepworth told invited guests, including officials from Horsham District Council and local MP Jeremy Quin, that his was a local venture.
The managing director said: “It really was a huge undertaking and we used local businesses which has kept the investment in the local economy. This is our future - it is our future for the long term.”
The two acre plot, which offers room for expansion, was bought from Brinsbury College and could soon have an upmarket car dealership as a neighbour.
Mr Hepworth told his guests that the investment was in the land and building as the equipment had been moved from Horsham. The site, which is manned by 30 staff, can produce 40,000 bottles a day for a wide range of customers including Waitrose, Tesco and Marks and Spencer as well as its popular ales such as Sussex and Pullman.
The company exports it beer to countries such as the USA and India.
Mr Hepworth expects the site, which includes three self contained smaller breweries for exporter Ridgeway, Brighton’s Laines Brew Co and the Goodwood estate, to produce nearly 4.4 million pints a year.
Much of the barley and hops used in the production of its brews is grown in Sussex, meaning that this operation really is at the heart of its community.