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Bars & Breweries

Brewery Review : Dorking Brewery, Surrey, UK

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A couple from the UK with a passion for exploring the world, and enjoying a drink or two while we’re at it!

We want to share our travel experiences to help you plan your next trip, and let you know the best places to enjoy a cold one when you get there!

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If you’re a fan of ale, or lager, or stout, or IPA… just beer in general really, you need to check out Dorking Brewery! The brewery is one of the largest in the area, and their knowledgeable team of brewers produce an ever-rotating range of top-quality beers.

Based on the Sussex/Surrey border just a stone’s throw from Epsom, Dorking Brewery has a vision to be the best brewery in Surrey, and as far as we can tell they’re doing a great job so far! From humble beginnings in a small facility on the town’s high street, the brewery has undergone serious expansion over the last few years. They even had to move to a bigger place!

We were invited to visit the brewery for a tour and tasting of their core range, as well as some new seasonal draughts fresh from the tanks. Needless to say, they didn’t need to ask twice!

History

Dorking Brewery started brewing in 2008 out of their small premises on Station Road in Dorking.

Over the following years, the brewery steadily grew and began to supply local pubs and bars in Surrey as well as further afield.

In 2016, the brewery was bought by Neel Singh, a former reservist Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Navy, who had a vision to take the brewery to new heights. The demand for their beers was so high at this point that they relocated at the end of 2018 from the original site in Dorking to a larger space at Aldhurst Farm in Capel, a short 15 minutes down the road.

The new brewery, taproom, shop, bottling facility, and its capacity to brew up to 20,000 litres of beer a week, has helped Dorking grow from strength to strength, producing an ever-growing range of beers.

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More recently, the brewery has partnered up with local food vendors for their ‘Thursday Supper Club’ and ‘Saturday Session’ events. Unfortunately, these have taken a back seat for a little while during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they’ll be back as soon as they can!

As well as consistently brewing new high-quality beers, Dorking Brewery are really keen to minimise the environmental impact of their business. The brewery is actually carbon negative, and 97% of their grain is sourced here in the UK from East Anglia, with their spent grain being sent 15 metres down the farm to be fed to the local dairy herd.

Dorking brewery are becoming a household name locally, and although they have firmly stated that Surrey will forever be their home, some Dorking brews might be making their way into your local soon enough.

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Location

Dorking Brewery is located on Aldhurst Farm in Capel, Surrey. It’s very easy to drive to the brewery as it’s only 20 minutes from junction 9 of the M25, but then you can’t try too much of their delicious beers!

The closest train stations to the brewery are Ockley, Holmwood and Dorking. Trains from Epsom to Dorking take less than 20 minutes, and services from Central London (Waterloo) will have you there in around 1 hour and 20 minutes.

It is possible to walk to the brewery, and hikers are some of the taproom’s main clientele. However, if you don’t feel like getting your walking boots on, a taxi from Dorking town to the brewery cost us around £22.00.

Beers

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Dorking have become well known around Surrey for their traditional style ales which can now be found in several nearby pubs. However, they also produce a range of craft style beers such as IPA’s and Rye ale. We tried a variety from their range during our visit and talk a little more about each one below. You can find more information about Dorking’s range of beers here.

Surrey XPA – Extra Pale Ale (3.8 %)

A very easy drinking session ale. Surrey XPA might be extra pale, but a combination of English and American hops makes up for that with its refreshing citrus flavour and slightly bitter, dry aftertaste that keeps you coming back for more.

Nice and light at 3.8%, Surrey XPA is easy to drink all day long.

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Pilcrow Pale - Modern Pale Ale (4.0 %)

Dorking’s flagship brew, now found in pubs all over Surrey! Named after the Pilcrow symbol (¶), which represents a new start or new beginnings, Pilcrow Pale was the first beer Dorking Brewery produced.

Five different malts come together to make a very traditional English pale ale. Auburn in colour with a well-rounded, slightly bitter but fruity finish, this is another beer which you could quite easily find the empty pint glasses mounting up.  

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Five Claw – Hazy West Coast IPA (5.1%)

Moving into more crafty territory now with Dorking’s take on a classic California style IPA.

Five Claw isn’t too heavily hopped or hazy, which is a refreshing change from some of the exceedingly bitter, dry IPAs that fall under the West Coast umbrella.

Strong tropical fruits, perfectly balanced hops and bitterness make Five Claw hard to put down!

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Ryesing Sun – Seasonal Rye Pale Ale (3.8%)

First brewed as a limited run in 2019 to accompany the Rugby World Cup in Japan, this session pale is back by popular demand (at the time of writing anyway)!

Made with malted rye sourced from Germany, this ale is initially sweet with that spicy, dry rye aftertaste that you’ll know and love if you’re a fan of rye whiskey.

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Winter’s Coming – Ruby Ale (4.5%)

For all of the Game of Thrones fans out there, Winter is here! Luckily though, this doesn’t mean the imminent arrival of the White Walkers. But it does mean that it’s time to put down the cold lagers and pull a pint of dark ale!

This dark, ruby ale has rich caramel malty flavours that keeps you coming back for more. The perfect pint for Christmas sitting by a warm fire with your feet up, and our favourite beer we tried during our visit. There’s a keg already on order!

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Black Noise – New Age Porter (4.5%)

So, here’s a little bit of beer education for you. Porter as a style of beer was invented in London in the early 18thcentury and was made with brown malt because this made the beer darker, which in turn disguised the colour of the water. Nice.

Thankfully, times have changed, and modern porters aren’t made with dirty river water.

Seven different malts combine to make Black Noise smooth and toasty with hints of chocolate to round out this beer’s very moreish finish.

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Defaulters Lager – British Lager (4.0%)

A modern British unfiltered lager with a well-rounded, sweet finish. Defaulters Lager was influenced by the rigours of life in the services.

Due to Mr Singh’s former Navy connections, Dorking’s flagship lager is made in partnership with the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, with 5% of profits going to support servicemen, women, and their families.

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Tours & Events

The brewery run tours every Saturday at 11:00am and 16:00pm. During the 45-minute tour, you will be taken through a brief history of the brewery, as well as learn how they brew all their signature beers, finishing up with a tasting session. Tours are priced at £15.00 per person at the time of writing.

As well as tours, the brewery also run regular events such as their ‘Thursday Supper Club’ and ‘Saturday Sessions’, which see them team up with local food producers. Periodically, they also hold one-off themed events such as Bonfire Night drinks and an Oktoberfest themed party.

For a full calendar and tickets, check out the link here.

Beer Club

For those passionate craft afficionados out there, the brewery also has an exclusive membership scheme, aptly named the Beer Club.

There are two levels of beer club membership. Standard membership costs £0.00 (yes, its free!) and gives 10% off orders collected from the brewery, as well as offers, rewards and benefits via email. If you live close by and like your beer, this one might be a no brainer.

The premium membership is a lot more comprehensive and will give you 10% off all orders whether online or collected from the brewery, 1 mini keg delivered to you every month (worth £25.50), 4 x tour vouchers, 2 x branded glasses, £30.00 drink in vouchers and exclusive invites to members only events.

There are two subscriptions for premium membership. The first is £30.00 per month for a 12-month subscription, and the second is a one off £299.00 payment for 12-months membership.

For more information on Beer Club membership or to sign up, check out the link below.

https://dorkingbrewery.com/our-beer-clubs/

We really enjoyed our visit to Dorking Brewery! They make great beers and have a sustainable approach to producing their products that should be an example to all medium sized brewers.

The brewery have kindly provided us with discount code BACKPACKS for 10% off online purchases and a FREE PINT for readers who book a brewery tour.

Cheers Dorking, we’ll be back soon!

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