Dark Star Brewery is to develop its own pub estate – with a target of growing it to 20 sites in the next five years.

The new venture will be headed up by experienced pub entrepreneur, Heath Ball, who currently operates two sites in London - The Wenlock Arms in Hackney and the Red Lion and Sun, Highgate.

The company said it would be looking for small town free of tie and new license sites across the South East.

Dark Star currently has two pubs - a private lease of the Evening Star in Brighton and a lease with Enterprise Inns of their brewery tap, The Partridge in Partridge Green, close to the brewery. Both these sites will remain within the existing management structure at a local level.

Managing director Paul Reed said: “We have always wanted to have a few pubs but we were put off by bloody experts telling us how important return on investment and ‘exit strategy’ is. I don’t know what a craft brewer is and I’m not sure if we are one, all I know is that we want to share the beers we make with everyone who loves beer, and pubs give us another platform to do that, that’s the business plan – simple as that.”

He added: “We’re delighted that Heath is as enthusiastic as we are to roll this out. We’ve known Heath for a long time and seen the passion that he brings to making great pubs.”

Ball said: “I’m really looking forward to working with the team at Dark Star. The creation of a small group of pubs with Dark Star above the door appears to be a no-brainer – they will all have a great beer offering and no pretensions, where the traditional ale lovers and the beer enthusiast can all feel at home.”