Four years ago while sat drinking in a Canadian bar, Guy Lymn mulled over the idea of brewing his own beer for a living.
Those thoughts continued when he returned to the UK – and never went away.
So with the blessing of his partner Hayley Wise, Guy decided to act and together in 2013 they set up their own brewery – the Urban Island Brewing Company.
Based in an industrial unit in Limberline Spur, Hilsea, Portsmouth, Urban Island is the latest in a line of breweries to emerge in the city as demand for real ale grows.
Guy, 45, and Hayley, 41, of Southsea, have poured more than £100,000 of their own cash into kitting out the space with state-of-the-art machinery to get the beer flowing.
Guy brews up to 1,600 pints a week, while Hayley spends her time visiting different pubs across the region urging them to buy their brews and serve it up to the punters.
They launched their first beer this summer, called Dolly’s Special Beer (DSB) – in homage to Guy’s nan Dolly who turned 100 this year.
And Guy, who grew up in Horndean, says another inspiration for getting into the trade was the fact his late grandfather George Lymn was a cooper at the village’s former Gales brewery. Guy explains: ‘I grew up around brewing and the brew industry.
‘One of the things that really inspired me was the takeover of Gales, and the fact HSB was turned into something that just wasn’t the same afterwards.
‘It’s not like the old HSB when I was younger, and so it inspired me to set up my own brewery and produce local beer.’
Hayley, who formerly worked as a buyer at IBM for 10 years, is equally passionate about good beer.
She says; ‘We both love real ale and we drank in places like The Hole in The Wall and The Leopold Tavern.
‘We love the variety you can get these days.
‘I was always used to drinking Stella, but with ale, I realised it doesn’t all taste the same.
‘It’s great there has been a rise in real ale drinking.
‘The beers we make are very hoppy and very malty.’
Urban Island currently supplies about 30 pubs in the area – from the New Forest up to Petersfield.
But the couple hope that through a lot of hard work, the number of boozers on the books will rise to 100 and three brewing sessions each producing 1,600 pints will occur a week in their Hilsea headquarters.
Hayley says: ‘We want to be become one of Portsmouth’s most renowned breweries, with exciting, new beers.’
The brewery has found it a challenge however, as demand for hops has forced them to try and seek other varieties to stay current.
Hayley says: ‘It’s not been an easy ride.
‘Plus all the money we have earned, every last penny, has gone straight into the brewery.
‘It’s worrying there are so many breweries now.
‘However, if you start as you mean to go on, and produce a variety of beer, I don’t see why we should worry what the future holds.
‘We have only been brewing since June.
‘We want to get out into our community and show them what we have to offer.
‘There are so many pubs in Portsmouth, Southsea and further afield that we want to see.’
The brewery currently produces three beers – High and Dry, DSB and Amarillo – and another one called Citra is also due to be brewed soon.
High and Dry is a West Coast IPA brewed to a 5.5 per cent strength containing American hops.
DSB is 4.6 per cent strength and Amarillo is brewed with American hops at five per cent.
Citra will also feature US hops and be about five per cent.
DSB and High and Dry featured at the recent Portsea Island Beer Festival, run by Irving and Co Brewery at the Groundlings Theatre, in Portsea.
DSB also ran through the taps at this year’s Victorious Festival, and the brewery is to supply DSB for the upcoming Portsmouth Beer Festival: Christmas Sessions at the Guildhall on December 18 and 19.
So what else is in store for the family brewers?
Hayley says: ‘In 2016, we’re hoping to brew more beer.
‘In January we’ll be getting a new order of hops, and it’s going to be an exciting time.
‘We’re hoping to arrange some brewery tours, sell some beer from the brewery and have a bar there.’
You can find the brewery on Facebook by searching for Urban Island Brewing Company.
Follow the brewery on Twitter by searching for @UrbanIslandBrew.
For all beer enquiries, call the brewery on (023) 9266 8726.
ANOTHER SUCCESS STORY
HE’s been brewing beer from his garage - and now David Eastwood is gearing up for life as a brewer within the grounds of Southsea Castle.
David is the owner of The Southsea Brewing Company and can’t wait to see his business take off in 2016. He’s producing four beers – two IPAs, one stout and a porter – but wants to be producing 16 different varieties once he’s all set up in his new home.
The move came about thanks to Portsmouth City Council.
David, 30, of Devonshire Avenue, Southsea, is looking forward to seeing where things go. He says: ‘As soon as I saw this place, I thought it was perfect. It’s such a historical location with so much character.
‘It’s amazing - I probably wouldn’t have thought a historical monument would be the best place for the brewery, but for the brand it’s fantastic.
‘The amount of support I have received is fantastic.’
David, who has won a couple of home brew awards for the quality of his beer, prides himself on using the finest ingredients.
He says: ‘I definitely focus on the craft-style beers and focus on the ingredients.
‘The flavour is just amazing, you don’t get beers like this in a lot of other places.’
It comes as figures from the national Campaign for Real Ale reveal the number of UK breweries has increased by more than 10 per cent for the third consecutive year, bringing a huge increase in the choice and availability of cask beer to drinkers.
A total of 204 new breweries have opened in 12 months, taking the total number to 1,424 – the highest since the 1930s and 1940s.
And of the UK’s 53,444 pubs, 37,356 now serve real ale, equivalent to 70 per cent.
Southsea Brewing Company has already had beers showcased at the Portsea Island Beer Festival and Hampshire’s OctoberFest, held in Basingstoke from October 9 to 11.
Brewing came back to Portsmouth city centre for the first time in years in 2013 when Brewhouse & Kitchen turned The White Swan into a pub with its own brewery.
And beers from the Oakleaf Brewing Company, in Mumby Road, Gosport, and Irving and Company Brewers, in Walton Road, Drayton, Portsmouth, can be found in many local pubs. The Southsea Brewing Company is on Twitter – @southseabrewing