Miles Jenner keeps the beers coming as we drink our way through the cask ales.
I notice that every time he gets a round from the bar, he gets a little glass of the beer first.
“I’m just making sure it’s in the condition I’d like it to be.”
The beers all look and taste amazing. I’m most impressed by the gravity-served Sussex Best. It forms a wonderfully creamy head. It’s obviously in wonderful condition. Reminding me of some beers I served at the GBBF years ago. M & B Springfield of Matthew Brown Mild and Bitter. They had similar levels of condition. Not sure how many beers do any more.
Miles Jenner explains why the beer is so well conditioned:
“We used to send it out straight after racking. After we realised pubs were selling it too soon we started keeping it in a warehouse for a week.”
There are many breweries that could do well to follow the lead of Harvey’s.
After a couple of pints we head upstairs for a bite to eat. Just for variety, I have fish and chips. It’s rather nice, with Sussex Best batter. The talk, unsurprisingly, is mostly about beer and hops and very entertaining.
Once we’ve drunk our coffee we head back over the road to the brewery. This is so exciting. It’s somewhere I’ve always dreamt of visiting. Let’s hope it isn’t a disappointment.
I’m surprised to learn that the current building wasn’t all constructed at once, the tower being added later. You’d never know from looking at it. The join is seamless.
We start at the top of the brewery, as usual. Where they have, as is logical, the malt and hop store. Plus a couple of little steam engines. They’re still in working order, but aren’t connected up to any belts or anything. They run them once a year.
Seeing the malt piled up in sacks isn’t a surprise. It’s how everyone stores their malt. The hop store would have been a shock, if Mike hadn’t forewarned me. I’ve been telling people for years that Victorian brewers knew how to preserve hops and kept them in cold stores. Harvey’s have them at room temperature. Though, to be fair, they did say that bulk storage was offsite in a temperature-controlled space.
Did I mention all their hops come from Sussex? And they’re still in pockets. In a way, getting ingredients locally is both very traditional and very modern. Is that ironic or weirdly logical?
On the way out of the stores we see the blocks of No. 3 invert sugar and sacks of flaked maize. A sure sign they brew the old-fashioned way here.
Moving on, we admire the pair of coppers. One is grandly copper, the other more discrete stainless steel. But they’re functionally the same. And therein lies the key to Harvey’s. It isn’t a museum. As equipment wears out, it’s replaced. With something that performs the same function. The material might have changed, but the way it operates is unchanged.
It’s the same story with the mash tuns: one copper, one stainless. There are rakes at the bottom, but purely to aid cleaning out the spent grains.
I’m pleased to see a very specialist piece of equipment that you don’t see much anymore. It’s a sugar dissolver. Not glamourous, I know, but this sort of shit excites me.
You can’t imagine how excited I got in the fermentation room. But I’m saving that for next time.
Disclaimer: my trip was paid for by Goose Island as part of my consultancy fee.
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