by Camden Ford, Nov. 24, 2017
With Aleks, Assistant Manager & Brewery Liaison @ North Laine Brewhouse
"They've actually kind of made a job for me"
I ambled into the pub looking for someone to interview and was lucky enough to bump into Aleks, who promptly grabbed us a tea and let me quiz him for a while. A self-professed ‘beer nerd,’ Aleks has what is arguably one of the best jobs in the world—brewery liaison at the North Laine Brewhouse.
‘We love putting weird things together’
Brewing at the North Laine is all about interesting experiments. Lemon and thyme beer? Go for it! Cardamom and orange? No problem! Want to sample a pineapple, ginger and scotch bonnet IPA? It’s already in the cask! Aleks and the rest of the staff love their beer, and they have a lot of freedom in deciding what to brew and how to brew it. As a result, the Brewhouse has the most interesting collection of beers I’ve seen yet, with a vegan beer always on tap (it is Brighton, after all), and a selection that changes all the time.
Nor are their experiments limited to just beers. After grudgingly allowing his staff member, Sheldon, to put together a single bottle of ‘hopped gin’, Aleks has ended up ordering 18 bottles of it a week to keep up with demand. So what does hopped gin look like? ‘Oh, it’s green. It’s real green. It’s cloudy. It looks like it shouldn’t be good. It’s got a real kryptonite quality to it.’ Yet in spite of its odd appearance, it’s been a huge hit. ‘It’s unreal how well people have responded to it,’ Aleks told me; ‘I’m nearly selling as much of that as I am of the house gin’.
‘Oh, it’s green. It’s real green. It’s cloudy […] It’s got a real kryptonite quality to it’
If you’ve got an idea for a new beer you’re keen to try out, the pub runs a Nano Brew on the first Wednesday of every month, giving customers the chance to come and brew for themselves alongside the North Laine’s own brewer, Joe. If you can’t make it along in person, pop by the pub’s Facebook page and leave a suggestion. The weirder it sounds, the better they’ll like it (and you can take a recommendation from both me and Aleks on the cardamom and orange beer—cards on the table though, he did bribe me with a free sample).
‘We just literally open the doors and throw fistfuls of glitter at people, and people seem to like that’
Brighton is a city that Aleks is proud to be a part of, and the Brewhouse embodies much of the quirky style and strong sense of community that is at its heart. The pub is on the Pride parade route—‘we just literally open the doors and throw fistfuls of glitter at people, and people seem to like that’—and regularly organises pop ups that showcase local artists and performers. Their Facebook page has new events almost every day: come by on Mondays for their Pop-Up Cinema (running until Christmas) and enjoy discounted food and drink while you watch, or swing by on Thursday evenings for Drag Queen Bingo.
‘We’re just all beer nerds…we will literally talk your damn ear off about it’
Aleks got into brewing as a hobby he shared with his grandad, and I got the sense during my visit that most of the North Laine’s staff have a real love for what they do. These are the kind of people who will tear across town in a Citroen Saxo with two bin bags full of fresh hops straight off the vine to make sure they’re fresh enough for a green hop beer (this is a true story—ask Aleks). They can tell you not only what all their beers taste like, but also what’s in them and exactly how they’re made.
‘Wine is vinegar waiting to happen… I mean, obviously I’m biased’
…Just don’t ask Aleks about the wines.