Twenty breweries: Dark Star

Some breweries make their name on the strength of two beers - one light, one dark - that become a toper's turn-to whatever the time of year. Others achieve it by a depth and breath borne of imagination, experimentation and collaboration. It took me a few years to realise, but Dark Star have made their name both ways.

Their Sussex goodies used to escape rarely into my Midlands drinking heartland. When - if - they did, it was one of two brews; Hophead or Espresso. And on finding them I would drink deep and long. For they were the fruitiest sub-four-percenter and the most-rounded-choc-and-coffee beers that I could drink. And you know what? They're still the best golden ale and coffee stout on offer, on cask, in the UK.

And there's more. Perhaps it's the pubs that now offer a wider range, perhaps I'm now drinking in better pubs, but the seasonal and special Dark Star beers are becoming a common site round our way. And what beers they are - none of your dodgy re-tweaked seasonals here but styles old, new and re-interpreted; saison, smoked porter, Mai bock, green-hopped IPA. Add in collaboration ales with the likes of Thornbridge and Kernel and it's clear that Dark Star are at the zenith of the contemporary English brewing scene.

Their new website is kick-ass too. And their clothing range is stuff that you may actually want to wear. Even me. Brown hoodie in extra large, please, if anyone's feeling generous.

Why try? The regular beers redefine 'regular beer' and the specials are, er, special.

What to look for? Hophead, Espresso Stout, Summer Meltdown

Where to buy? Consult their beerfinder; not only where they've delivered to but what beers and how many barrels. An outstanding innovation. And there's always the Evening Star in Brighton, birthplace of the brewery in 2001, which I will finally get to visit this year. Honest.