Micro breweries and pubs have taken hold of a new market for craft and real ales in Essex over the past five years.

Following the closure of some longstanding free houses in Basildon, Southend and on Canvey, small brewers have become a popular alternative to the chain pub.

The Echo spoke with the owners of Southend and Basildon’s growing breweries on what has made the trend into a major part of modern drinking culture.

Mark Springham, 56, is the co-director of the Leigh Brewing Company in Progress Road.

Although new to the industry, by recognising the past of Leigh the business has thrived since it started.

He said: “We felt it was important that we recognise the best of Leigh in our branding.

"We took some of the historical moments from the town and we are using those landmarks to be the centre of our beers.

"The six ships that sailed to save our troops at Dunkirk, “Six Little Ships”, “Cockle Row Spit”, named after the buoy in Old Leigh, they bring some excitement to the drinkers and the people who recognise them.”

Personalisation and ownership has become a key part of these businesses success since the revolution of micro breweries in Essex.

Mark Mawson, the owner of George’s Brewery in Common Road, Great Wakering and Mawson’s Micropub in Southchurch Road, Southend has seen the industry grow into more than just a passing trend since they opened in May 2011.


At George's brewery - Mark Mawson, Sam Martyn, and James Reeve

He said: “I think small breweries are providing something different from the run of the mill Greene Kings and the like.

"Real ale drinkers like variety and brewers like us can produce ten or 12 beers of different styles.”

Mr Mawson started the business after a long career working in construction.

He took to brewing beer as it was the “only thing he knew how to do” Mr Mawson believes that its popularity has grown hugely amongst young people.

He said: “There are sports like rugby and cricket where when you go to a game, you associate them with real and craft ales.

"The image of these drinks have changed and the designs of the bottles and pump clips on the bars are now much more interesting for young drinkers to try.”

The breweries’ independent image has become a huge selling point in the wake of many smaller pubs being taken over by companies such as JD Wetherspoons and Hungry Horse.

The small businesses are mainly made up of close friends or families who run the business with help from a small team or brewers, micropub staff and salesmen.

Trevor Geoffrey, 53, the owner of the Billericay Brewing Company in Chapel Street, Billericay, said: “We have a great team of eight people who are all passionate about beer and that was important when I went to pick the team.”

Mr Geoffrey feels that even though the town has lost some long-standing pubs in the last few years, it can only mean good things for independent brewers.

He said: “With pubs shutting in Billericay, we feel we offer something a little bit different and it means we can give our visitors something that other places cannot.

"We care about what we put into our beer and people can see where it comes from right in front of them.”