UPDATE – this show first aired on Brighton’s Radio Reverb on Sunday 25 March 2018. To listen to it, you can catch up iTunes or Podomatic
Having lived in Sussex for 25 years, Harvey’s Brewery holds a very special place in my heart. Referred to locally as ‘Lewes Cathedral’, the brewery has dominated the centre of the county town since 1790, casting a faintly sepia-tinted shadow across the ground on which it stands. Together with legendary Head Brewer, Miles Jenner, who himself has a lifelong connection with the brewery, Harvey’s represents a reassurance and continuity seldom seen in today’s brewing world.
But that certainly doesn’t mean that the brewery is standing still. The contemporary brewing scene in Sussex is currently displaying rich seam of local talent, and Harvey’s is assertively engaging with all the opportunities that this brings. From packaging some of the old favourites in cans, through to a new range of keg beer, to a highly acclaimed collaboration with Burning Sky, this is a brewery that has survived for nearly 230 years for one very good reason: like the wisest of all our elders, it recognises the value of tradition but does not turn its face away from progress.
And, of course, another reason Harvey’s Brewery has survived is the fact that it makes some great beer, including one of my absolute favourites: the multi-award winning Harvey’s Imperial Extra Double Stout. In common with all the best beers, this stout has a magical story behind it, one that draws together the wonderfully-named Albert Le Coq, some of the best brewers in England, and the Russian city of St Petersburg. If you can’t get inside the ‘Lewes Cathedral’ itself, this is the next best thing: from the Nautilus-like coppers to the churning fermenters, this beer shouts out the tale of it’s year spent conditioning in the brewery from the moment you crack the lid. It pours with an oily viscosity, glints like high-polish ebony, and fills the mouth with rich, dark fruits, a savoury wash, and just enough sweet funk to remind you that this is something very special.
So, you can imagine my excitement when Miles Jenner invited me and Fermentation’s resident beer sommelier, Jane Peyton, to join him in the brewery for a very rare brew of the Harvey’s Imperial Extra Double Stout. You can find out how we got on, and hear an interview with Miles Jenner himself, on this month’s show.
And here’s that Imperial Extra Double Stout, running straight off the mash tun. Compare the colour to the Harvey’s Best Bitter running off behind it. Black gold!
Also, on this month’s show:
- Continuing the Sussex theme, Good Things Brewing have opened up a tap room in central Brighton focussing on all the great beers coming out of the county. You can expect to see the likes of Burning Sky, Unbarred, Brighton Bier, Lost & Found and more on tap there over the coming months. Chris Drummond – one of the co-founders – is also a sustainability expert and I caught up with him on the opening night to talk ethical brewing and local drinking.
- South London’s Brixton Brewery hit the beery headlines late last year when it was announced that global giants, Heineken, had acquired a minority stake in the family-run business. At last month’s Craft Beer Rising, I caught up with one of Brixton’s founders, Jez Galaun, to find out all about the new developments.
- The month of March sees the return of International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day – an event started up five years by British brewer, Sophie de Ronde (now of Burnt Mill Brewery) to unite and celebrate women in brewing. Resident beer sommelier, Jane Peyton and I joined hundreds of women around the world in brewing a very special collaboration beer. Hear more about what we brewed on the show and see a 40 second version of our brew day right here:
- And Newport’s Tiny Rebel Brewery are seldom far from the spotlight – and they brew some great beer to prove why that should be the case! Earlier this month, I chatted beer, writing and cheese with Alice from Tiny Rebel over a couple of beers at The Brunswick.
We taste three beers on air:
- Brixton Brewery – Atlantic APA (American Pale Ale)
- Harvey’s Brewery – Imperial Extra Double Stout
- Tiny Rebel – Sugar Rush (Sweet Shop Stout)