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Bev Robbins - Brewer & Landlord

The 29th Festival will be held on Fri 22nd - Sat 23rd March 2019 once again at Brighton Racecourse.

Bev Robbins lost his battle against cancer of the oesophagus on July 20th 2006, robbing the world of one its genuine characters. He had been due to celebrate 21 years as owner of The Hand in Hand in Upper St James’s Street, Kemp Town, Brighton, but will mostly be remembered for bringing brewing back to Brighton when, in November 1989 he established “the world’s smallest tower brewery” there.

He began his ‘pub career’ in Brighton by helping his then father-in-law Norman Russell and first wife Jill run The Battle of Trafalgar before he and Jill were offered The New Inn at Charminster near Dorchester, then returned to Brighton to take management of The Withdean Sportsman. After the break-up of his marriage he moved to West Byfleet in Surrey where he met his second wife Brenda, to whom he was married for 23 years.

He came to most of the local CAMRA members with his involvement with the Eagle, Gloucester Road, Brighton, and then in 1986 Bev and Brenda took over The Hand in Hand, which was voted Brighton & South Downs CAMRA Branch ‘Pub of The Year’ in 1995.

Bev was a founder member of CAMRA, although he and the local branch did not always see eye to eye, especially when his pub was no longer included in the Good Beer Guide after a long run from 1988 to 2004. Despite any differences he was happy to act as licensee for the Sussex Real Ale & Cider Festivals. He was also the longest-serving chairman of the Sussex Society of Licensed Victuallers, spending about seven years at the helm until four years ago, fighting to preserve the traditional pubs in the county. As such he was always ready with an apposite quote on any topic to do with pubs, beer or brewing.

Friend Roy Skam, who used to run The Lamb and Flag in Cranbourne Street, said: “He was a great campaigner for the ordinary person, the ordinary licensee. He was a doer.” In 2000 he was involved in a campaign for a better Brighton, and regularly complained about the litter and drugs problems in St James’s Street. He was also fond of cricket – often sponsoring the cricket balls for a match at the County Ground – and of jazz music, being a big fan of Harry Strutter’s Hot Rhythm Orchestra who were based in the local area.

To commemorate his services to Real Ale, the Brighton & South Downs branch of CAMRA decided in 2007 to award a Trophy to the Sussex Brewery that scores the most votes for a single beer in the Sussex Beer Festival Beer of the Festival competition.

Paul Free
Manager, Sussex Bar



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