FRANKLIN’S, an award-winning Pebsham-based business, is one of hundreds of microbreweries in the UK which is catering for the country’s growing appetite for real ale and craft beer.
The brewery, which supplies to pubs and bars across Sussex and London, including The Dolphin Inn and the White Rock Hotel in Hastings, was called Whites until 2010 when it was bought by Garry Doel and turned it into Franklin’s.
The new owner and head honcho is Steve Medniuk, a passionate brewer who joined the business as a partner in 2012 but has since bought Garry out.
The 42-year-old used to work in the music business but five years ago he undertook a course at Brewlab in Sunderland, and within eight weeks he landed a job at one of the county’s top breweries, Dark Star. It was there that he continued to hone his craft, but Steve’s passion for beer began more than a decade earlier while he was travelling in the USA.
“My wife’s American and she has family in California and I have come across a lot of proper microbreweries that are in pubs and restaurant settings. There’s absolutely loads of them and I fell in love with the idea as a concept and at the time when we were travelling in the States, the craft beer revolution was taking off and so I was trying all these amazing beers and I was like ‘if I am ever going to own my own business pub or bar that’s what I want it to be like.’ That hasn’t quite happened, but I have a brewery, so we’re on the way!
“When I got back to England I wanted to learn more about beer in good, very beer-centric pubs in London and I started developing my taste for anything that wasn’t lager and that was about 15 years ago and I haven’t looked back since.”
Franklin’s core beers include the Pudding Stout, a dark, silky ale with notes of coffee and vanilla, and the popular English Garden, a hoppy brew with a biscuity malt and a touch of sweetness. And Steve has now set his sights on making his first lager.
“I am going to make it the way it should be made and not with forced carbonation. Unfortunately it is very expensive to make lager the way it should be made because you’re not adding corn syrups, not adding lots of stuff you don’t need to, which is added to speed the process up. But that’s what I am going to do and I am actually in the process of buying tanks and I will be endeavouring to make a British Pilsner.
“I am actually off to the Czech Republic to take in a few breweries, pick up some tips, look for some ingredients and bring them back with me.
Steve also thinks that developing a lager will give Franklin’s an edge, a unique selling point.
It’s boom time for breweries in the UK, the 1970s stereotype of the middle-aged, red-faced ale swilling men has been lost and new generations of younger drinkers are developing a taste for real ale and craft beers. According to Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) estimations, there are some 1,147 breweries in the UK.
However despite the industry’s growth, Steve says that as the market becomes saturated, breweries are also closing down as quickly as they are opening.
But the ambitious brewer is confident Franklin’s can hold its own and by the end of the year he hopes to be offering lager and canned products. “Canning’s not common. Not many breweries can in the UK but they do in Australia and the States, which is where I got the idea from. It will open the market out to the corner shop and I want Franklin’s to be seen, to become more recognisable.”