County Stat Attack Week 42 - West Sussex

Back to our final visit to the South Coast and the county of West Sussex. Created in 1974 when the county of Sussex, South Saxons, was split in two in the reorganisation. The oldest human habitation remains in Britain were found in the county at Eartham Pit, Boxgrove. There are other prehistoric monuments include Devil’s Jumps, Cissbury Ring and Chanctonbury Ring hill forts. The Romans built villas and roads throughout the area including Stane Street. Sussex was first noted in AD477 in the Anglo Saxon Chronical, a noted publication of its day presumably. The Kingdom of Sussex was later absorbed into Wessex.

The English Channel is to the south of the county and the Weald runs across it with the rivers Arun and Adur which flow Southwards. Much of it is chalk and clay but with some areas of sandstone.

The economy was largely agricultural with cattle particularly suited to the grasslands. The county has the highest sunshine record of any English county.
The largest settlements are Worthing, Crawley, Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Shoreham by Sea and Horsham.

On Ratebeer we have a total of 49 Breweries listed with 37 currently active and 12 closed. Of these just 3 are Client / Commissioner breweries. The brewery we have with the largest range is Weltons Brewery of Horsham (Est 1995) with 183 beers listed.

The oldest Brewery we have listed is King & Barnes of Horsham (Est 1906). Initially the brewery was called Satchell & Co established in 1800 but bought out by James King in 1906 and named King & Sons. This was immediately merged with another Horsham brewery G H Barnes & Co forming King & Barnes Brewery. The company was taken over by Hall and Woodhouse (Badger) and the brewery closed, it is now a housing estate. The pub estate is also now run by Hall & Woodhouse.
The oldest currently active brewery is Gribble Brewery of Oving (Est 1987), a brewpub also owned by Hall & Woodhouse at one point but now run by independent owners.

The 2020 Ratebeer awards gave best Brewer award to Dark Star Brewing Co. of Partridge Green (Est 1994), owned by the Japanese Asahi co. The Best beer award was for Dark Star Trail Ridge IPA. No award was made for new Brewer.

The Top 10 beers for West Sussex are –

  1. Dark Star Hophead Citra R
  2. Sussex Small Batch Tiramisu Stout
  3. Dark Star Green Hopped IPA
  4. Dark Star Imperial Stout
  5. Little Monster Squash Court
  6. Dark Star 1910 Porter R
  7. Dark Star Victorian Ruby Mild
  8. Dark Star Belgian IPA R
  9. Dark Star Critical Mass
  10. Ridgeway Imperial Russian Stout

The Top Bars / Pubs in West Sussex are –

  1. Anchored in Worthing, Worthing – 77
  2. Brooksteed Alehouse – 76
  3. Brewery Shades, Crawley – 76
  4. Gribble Inn, Oving – 74
  5. Selden Arms, Worthing – 72

The Top 5 Raters of beers from West Sussex are –

  1. @fonefan
  2. @harrisoni
  3. @imdownthepub
  4. @Leighton
  5. @madmitch76

You will require a healthy 65 beers to get into the West Sussex Top 50.

The person who resides in West Sussex with the most ratings is –
@TheKernOwl who appears to have ceased rating with us in 2018. The person who is rating currently living in West Sussex with the most ratings is @sam_uk93


When I first saw this come up, I thought, not been there much, but as it turns out we have done a few trips to the county. Firstly we stayed near Arundel then more recently Worthing and Chichester. When I was a bit of a lad, me and a mate worked at the Butlins at Bognor Regis for a season, what happened in Bognor stays in Bognor mostly, but I was employed as a Waiter (My Mate on the never ending Teas and Coffee’s!), after a week I got promoted to a Wine Waiter, ‘Butlins Red or Butlins White Sir, would you like to taste’. The wine was so rough that many would leave it and if they hadn’t marked the bottle for serving the next day it was ours. The best parties at Butlins were in the wine waiters chalet that summer, just saying.

Worthing has become a decent place for micro pubs and Chichester is always worth a visit. Not much else though that I can find in my records.

I have walked the South Downs Way across the county, which was excellent, particularly around the Devil’s Dyke area, it is high and breezy across much of the county. Do they have football in West Sussex?

To the beer. I am 3rd in the county with a current total of 276 beers. My 25th highest county with an average rating of 3.28, it’s okay. Rather surprisingly I have tried beers from 37 different West Sussex Breweries which makes me top of the most breweries chart.

The Breweries I have had most beers from are –

  1. Dark Star Brewing Co (Asahi) – 65
  2. Arundel Brewery – 31
  3. Ridgeway Brewing – 26
  4. Downlands brewery – 18
  5. Hepworth Brewery – 16
  6. Weltons Brewery – 16

I have awarded scores of 4 or more to 19 different beers in W.S, the highest being –

  1. Dark Star Golden Gate – 4.6
  2. Dark Star Six Hop Ale – 4.6
  3. Dark Star Indian Summer IPA – 4.5
  4. Ballards Duadekademon – 4.4
  5. Dark Star India Pale Ale – 4.4
  6. Dark Star Hophead Galaxy – 4.3

The West Sussex Breweries with my highest averages are –

  1. Dark Star Brewing – 3.638
  2. Kissingate Brewery – 3.383
  3. Downlands Brewery – 3.361
  4. Naked Beer (Closed) – 3.32
  5. Arundel brewery – 3.319

I have reviewed 25 different places in West Sussex, my 20th highest county, my favourite places are –

  1. Anchored in Worthing – 82
  2. New Inn, Littlehampton – 76
  3. Belle Isle, Chichester – 70
  4. Selden Arms, Worthing – 70

The one place I will never visit in West Sussex again is, you guessed it, Bognor f’ing Regis, but Worthing would be worth another go.


This isn’t looking like a very popular county! I’ve amassed 5 rates: 1 each from Dark Star (with another 1 pending entry), Downlands & Laine and 2 from Missing Link, and all were pretty decent to be fair. Far too far away for a flying visit, but I have been a few times, have friends in Steyning and have stayed there twice as a base for a Goodwood revival visit and also for an old fogey birthday party - couple of pubs were nice, but beer choice was a bit pants. Beyond that, it’s not somewhere I’m particularly familiar with, beyond the novels of Peter James, and actually think they’re predominately East Sussex anyway!


I have amassed only 13 ratings for West Sussex and were it not for Dark Star it would be far less. Here are my top 5
|Dark Star Espresso Stout (Cask)|3.8
|Dark Star Bock|3.7|
|Downlands Root Thirteen|3.5
|Dark Star Festival|3.4|
|Downlands Does Contain Nuts|3.4|
I don’t believe I have ever visited. I may have been put off by reports that George V on his death bed was reminded by his secretary that he was scheduled to attend an event in Bognor Regis. “Bugger Bognor,” he declared and some how the instruction has stuck.


Have 34 rates from West Sussex, the highest at 4 is Stopham Mimi Sparkling Sussex Cider

There are 8 active cideries in West Sussex, the most prolific is Wobblegate from Bolney with 10 entries which includes their new Rebel Root Craft Cider range.

The top 5 lists for West Sussex Ciders and Cidery raters are:

West SussexCider Ratings

West SussexCideries


I think I feel about West Sussex the way many people feel about Bedfordshire. For me, W Sussex is the epicentre of dull. They really only have two things going on: Dark Star and Gatwick.

My 38 rates are painfully shy of the number required to get on the leaderboard. Still, it can’t be all bad as there are six at 4 or higher:

Downlands Cam-Raa 4.3
Kissingate Six Crows 4.2
Dark Star Imperial Stout 4.2
Dark Star Revelation 4
Dark Star Rockhead 4
Kissingate Murder of Crows 4

I’ve tried 8 breweries, 7 still active. The most-rated breweries are Dark Star (26) and Kissingate (6), with no other brewery at more than 3. Luckily I am quite fond of both Dark Star and Kissingate.

Dark Star were especially seminal in my beer journey. I was working the South Devon CAMRA festival in about 2004/5 and Hophead won Champion beer of the festival. We normally went out to the brewery to present the award - generally not a problem as most winners were local. It was a long drive out but we went there anyway, the details are very blurry! The shine has been taken off them since the takeover, and to be honest I can’t remember the last time I saw them in the Midlands, but I imagine there are many of us who remember their first sip of Hophead.

I’ve rated three places when either going to Gatwick, coming back from Gatwick or at Gatwick. The only standout was the Brewery Shades is Crawley, which I generously and probably alcoholically gave an 80.

In conclusion it’s a county I don’t really know at all. Despite its dullness I wouldn’t mind having another cracking at it sometime to see if there are any hidden gems. Perhaps the coast?

West Sussex is somewhere over there. Hit Guildford and keep going. 97 ticks gets me to #25. So there are plenty of people who’ve ticked beers from West Sussex but they’re too cool for these threads.

My top beers are 3.8 or 3.7:

Quite surprised to see Laine at the top. Most of their output is average at best.

28 breweries puts me in joint 6th place. My top rated breweries being:

Dark Star/Weltons - 13
Hammerpot - 11
Firebird/Langham - 7
Hepworth/Missing Link/Sussex Small Batch - 4
Chapeau/Ridgeway/Wingtip - 3

A couple of years ago some relatives in West Sussex gave me some local beers which were all new brewery ticks. Since the they have given is gin so fuck 'em.

West Sussex does have some up and coming breweries: Brolly, Little Monster, Merakai and Missing Link. Sussex Small Batch have their fans boys but I find their beers to be way too sweet. And Arundel have managed to get people to forget that they used to be twig pushers.


One of the few counties I’ve never seen Grimsby Town lose in, as I’ve not watched us at Creepy Crawley (yet). Stayed in the town a couple of times overnight, before flights out of Gatwick, but otherwise the county is blank to me.

53 different beers rated, my 31st lowest county, 15 breweries sampled, 3 of which are now closed. Average score is 3.28. No Cider, Mead or Sake taken.


Ridgeway Imperial Russian Stout 4.3 3.62 12/11/2015
Ridgeway Imperial Barley Wine 4.3 3.21 10/5/2019
Ridgeway Bad King John 4.1 3.24 4/9/2012
King and Barnes Christmas Ale 4 3.43 1/13/2015
Ridgeway Reindeers Revolt 4 3.05 12/31/2018
Ridgeway Very Bad Elf 4 3.02 1/17/2019
Weltons Churchillian 3.9 3.2 4/20/2015
Firebird Christmas Ale 3.9 3.23 6/21/2017
Dark Star Over the Moon 3.8 3.53 4/5/2012
Dark Star Oktoberfest 3.8 3.34 4/9/2012 emphasized text

Worst beer was a shunked bottle of Ballards Wassail.

The 15 breweries have a leader board like this:
Ridgeway @ 15
Dark Star @ 13
Hepworth @ 6

My one and only place review is the Spoon’s before security at Gatwick. Can’t remember the last time I’ve flown out of Gatwick to be honest, but it’s the only reason I’ve ever visited the county.



I’m never sure where East Sussex Ends and West Sussex starts, so I was interested to see which beers and places ended up in this list.

I have tried 60 West Sussex beers, just ahead of Rutland. The top rated beers of the bunch are:

Beer Rate
Little Monster Frost 4.3
Arundel Cherry Stout 4
Arundel Dragonfly 4

The Arundel Cherry Stout, again shows my love and chocolate and cherry.

I have had the most West Sussex beers from:

Brewery Beer
Ridgeway 15
Dark Star 9
Langham 7

The top rated of these is Dark Star with an average 3.42

The only 3 places I have rated are:


Continuing my county catch up…

I’ve been to West Sussex plenty of times, but mainly with family so my beer rates aren’t that high. I’ve had 30 rates from the county - in the bottom half of my counties, and miles away from getting in the top 50.

My fave brews so far have been:

My rates have come from from 8 breweries, with most rates from Dark Star (10) and Ridgeway (6). Dark Star is also my highest rated brewer in the county (5+ rates) with a modest score of 3.39.

Place-wise, I’ve only rated one place, which I visited this summer - the Bison Beach Bar at Level One in Worthing. Level One’s a lovely streetfood venue overlooking the beach - we really enjoyed our evening there, I’d recommend it.

Beery things aside, I’ve found West Sussex to be another county where it’s hard to pin down a specific feeling to it. It’s hard to link the grottiness of Crawley, Horsham and Gatwick; the tranquility of the Sussex Downs and their oldey worldey, forgotten towns; and the busy resorts that string almost the entire coast.

We’ve visited all the resorts now I think, as you can do them in a day trip from Buckinghamshire. Worthing and Littlehampton are the nicest (if unremarkable), and even Bognor is better than its reputation suggests. None of the coast is particularly stunning though. I had a week’s holiday in Selsey with the in-laws, and it’s a most peculiar place - it feels like a retirement village that hasn’t noticed that it’s next to the seaside. It’s the least seasidey seaside town I’ve ever visited!

Away from the coast, Arundel is a nice little town (if expensive), and we really enjoyed Chichester planetarium. Apart from that, I don’t think we’ve found anywhere of interest in the rest of the county - it’s definitely an understated county!

The highest point is on Blackdown Hill, just south of Haslemere, at 280m high. Couldn’t remember this one, probably because my hillbagging notes describe it as a “surprisingly dull hill”. Quite like the rest of the county then - never quite as memorable as you feel it should be.

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I just gained a West Sussex score. Ridgeway Bitter Gluten Free. And I feel guilty. The label says Ridgeway of Oxfordshire and the back label insists that South Stoke Oxon was its place of origin, but it is certainly listed as W Sussex on RB and I welcome it to join the meagre throng of 13 others. All I would say is that the review page does have an uploaded picture of the bottle with Oxfordshire quite visible. So I plead mitigation.

Sssh! Don’t tell the admins or you’ll get some of my rare W Sussex ticks moved to my already darkest blue Oxon…

ah the weight of a guilty secret!

Ridgeway were one of the early problems we took on. They have always claimed to be brewed in Oxfordshire, the South Stoke address is an office. The beers are most definitely brewed at Hepworth, they even claimed at one time to have built their own micro brewery within the Hepworth site, this turned out to be less than the truth too.

If Gatwick is in West Sussex, as per previous comments, then I’ve been to West Sussex. There’s a slim chance that I might’ve dipped into it on the way from London to the West Country but I wouldn’t lay money on that. I definitely have not had any beery adventures there though!

In the early Ratebeer days, Dark Star was the only show in town (at least in terms of my reviews). It looks like subsequent to that, I picked up a fair bit of Ridgeway, mainly from cask or Beers Of Europe.

In the last year, I finally made it into the top 50 list with an order from REDH, which provided a few 50cl bottles from traditional breweries, most of which had ‘caramel’ mentioned in the tasting note. I have rated 90 beers from West Sussex which puts it in the middle in terms of counties being 23rd most rated. This gives me a comfortable, if not totally impressive, 34th on the list.

There are 3 beers from West Sussex that deemed worthy of a score of 4.

Dark Star Dark Star 4.0 (on cask @ Guildford Arms, Edinburgh)
Ridgeway Reindeer Droppings (4.7 %) 4.0 (Bottle from Beers Of Europe)
Langham Aegir 4.0 (Bottle From REDH)

No excuse for a trip to West Sussex anytime soon, put at some point, I’m sure!