When Powder Monkey Brewery Co announced its market day to be held on the 5th of March, I looked at the list of independent traders going to be there and thought it would be a cool little venture across to Gosport. I didn’t expect the amazing day that I had travelling to get there and the experience of the market, as well as seeing so many familiar faces. Although I expected the brewery premises to be cool I wasn’t prepared for just how cool and the surrounding area where it sat. The fact there was good beer and food on offer kept me smiling!
Setting off on my travels, I caught the Gosport ferry over from the ferry terminal next to Portsmouth Harbour train station. The running times were approximately every 15 minutes which was perfect for me and the price for an adult return was only £4.00 so I think that was a good choice instead of taking a car! I went over with my son and we felt excited as we have never done this before. If I had thought about it we could have taken our bikes across and will think of this next time. It literally took 5 minutes to cross the Solent to get there!
When we arrived on the other side, we walked to the brewery and although it is around a 25-minute walk, it is a lovely view and you get to stand back and look across at Portsmouth in a picturesque way. The view is stunning and is well worth the trip just to see this landscape. As you get closer to the brewery there is a bridge to cross over that has a real holiday feel about it.
Arriving at the brewery, I hit the Powder Monkey Tap House bar first as I was thirsty from my travels and I tried a guest beer from Crafty Brewing Co which was an amber ale called Blind Side and was rich in both colour and flavour. Shaped like a boat, this long wooden bar has a diverse range of beers including impactful hop-forward pale ales and IPAs, dark porters and stouts but then a nod to the lager world with refreshing choices on hand. The food menu was interesting as most things on it you could imagine sat nicely with beer. From the hotdogs to the pies, it had a comforting feeling about it. I concentrated on the hot dog selection and bought myself a Powder Monkey Dog consisting of; a bacon-stuffed frankfurter, crispy onions with classic American mustard and ketchup!
I did find that I was quite confused as to where the market was but was pointed very quickly towards the brewery building which is a little walk, maybe like 2 minutes. Standing in the courtyard were food stalls like South Coast Bagel Company waiting for guests and flags showing the way inside. Through the historic doorway, I could see lots of fab stalls set up and indies I knew from Southsea. There was actually a little bar in here selling more Powder Monkey beer which was cool and places to sit and drink while pottering around the stalls. Island Hampers were there and said they loved this market for the wide range of traders that come and the visitors too. I caught up with Grate Catering who were selling meat rubs and condiments to help entice customers with their cooking. RE5 Customs were at the end of the market and had a wide range of trainers that had been custom-built and up for sale. They are specialists in refurbing old trainers and can personalise a style to suit your needs. Wandering around the old historic Naval Gunpowder store in Priddy’s Hard, I felt a sense of excitement around the fact this must be a great setting in the Summer. With seating outside the main bar and dogs and families welcome, it has an easiness to the place.
Powder Monkey was founded by Andy Burdon in 2019 and you can tell he has worked incredibly hard to bring back the lustre to this historic site. This place had been derelict for over 50 years which means all the love poured into the building was worth it when seeing all the customers asking for beer and settling down to enjoy the surroundings. All the restoration was finished and the site opened in 2021, it has a brewery building and also contains a production facility as well as a visitor centre, shop and tasting bar. I love how the name Powder Monkey draws back to its original focus of being a gunpowder store and that the name relates to the boys who carried the gunpowder to the guns on board ships. Holding such profound history as regards to the navy and the fact that Lord Nelson’s HMS Victory will have been supplied with gunpowder from here and how over 3 million bricks were used to make the walls 8 feet thick shows the interest of the place. Having been closed to the public for over 200 years and it being such a secretive space means that local residents didn’t know the ins and outs of the Naval Armament Depot, and this proves this historic naval site has appeal. Head brewer on-site Mark Hamblin puts all his attention into developing new ideas with beer and makes you feel that you could try so many beers that have been carefully selected and brewed to perfection. Brewing over 2000 pints a week means this venture takes its beer very seriously and you can order online to be delivered if you fancy a taste but can’t physically make it to the brewery site.
Regular markets are planned for the rest of the year and you can also look at the brewery tours that look like a fun experience and start at only £20 for an exclusive look behind the scenes that run on Saturdays. I would definitely recommend a hop over to go visit this location and with the Naval Museum of Firepower called ‘Explosion’ on-site next to the Powder Monkey Tap House it means you could make an entire day of it. The museum has a quaint little cafe and offers a hot drink and cake for £5.00. I think that with such a short ferry crossing and the investment planned in Gosport shows there is quite a bit to see on this side of the water now. You can visit the Yellow Edge Gallery which sits at the top of the High Street and holds more exhibitions than any other local gallery. You can also look forward to a creative space built by the Makers Guild that will allow for lots of artisan, creative elements in this town. I see a huge amount of growth here over the next 5 years and think there will be more tourism as the town develops more unique, interesting businesses to reside here. Just as you step off the ferry there is a cool beer shop called 33 Green Bottles that’s an intricate bar and Off Licence of craft ales, wine and spirits. So on your way to or back from the brewery, you could visit this independent joint. Check out the social icons for more info on Powder Monkey Brewery Co.