About Us 2018-02-19T14:30:20+00:00



Established in 1997 Darwin Brewery has grown steadily to become one of the most respected micro-breweries in the north of England.

Darwin’s first beers were produced on a very small 18 gallon system based at Brewlab at the University of Sunderland. Three years later the brewery expanded to Crook, County Durham with the acquisition of the Hodge’s Brewery and brewed there until 2002 when two factors resulted in a move back to Sunderland.

Firstly continued growth and popularity of the beers meant space was a problem at the Crook plant with production stretched almost to capacity. Secondly, and perhaps even more important was that the recent closure of the Vaux brewery had left the city without a brewery for the first time in over one hundred years.


At Darwin we like to think that the ‘good’ our Charles referred to is some damn good Darwin beer!

With both managers and staff having close links to the city the time seemed right to move back to Sunderland, this time with the purchase of Butterknowle’s award winning 12 barrel plant. Darwin pride themselves on the wide range and quality of their beers. This has only been possible thanks to the brewery having access to it’s original 18 gallon test plant.

The Darwin Brewery has always supported training courses at Brewlab with students gaining placement and development experience in brewing, marketing and sales. Today after further developments of Brewlab to a new dedicated location Darwin has moved to make best use of the advanced facilities available at West Quay Court in Sunderland.

Regular and unique beers are produced and our recently appointed brewer, Victoria Thomson, is ably assisted by Brewlab staff and expert resources. Our beers are produced to a high quality specification and are increasingly diverse including lagers, continental styles and historic creations.

Meet The Team


Keith was co-founder of the Darwin Brewery in 1994 having previously brewed with the Flag Brewery from 1986 when Brewlab began.  He developed his interest and skills in brewing as a microbiologist and has applied these to developing novel beers for Darwin as well as for historical recreations.

Keith also teaches microbiology at the University of Sunderland and believed that there is a great future for applying a wider variety of microbes in the brewing industry. He looks forward to seeing these develop in future Darwin beers.

Meet the Team


Victoria studied International Business at Edinburgh University. It was during her third year studying in Leuven, Belgium for a year that She discovered her love for beer.

After spending a couple of years travelling in Australia, Victoria returned with the idea of learning how to brew. She looked up brewing courses in the UK and found Brewlab. Victoria completed the Certificate course at Brewlab in October 2014 and was luckily offered the job of head brewer at Darwin Brewery after her course. She loves the creativity that brewing provides.