Saturday, 7 December 2019

Let's Brew - 1889 Harvey X

Here’s a recipe I never thought I’d write. A Harvey’s beer from before WW I. As it was thought none of their brewing records from this period had survived. It appears that at least one brewing book has survived, just miscataloged as being from another Lewes brewery, Beard.

It doesn’t contain a huge number of different beers. Two Milds, a Stock Ale, a Pale Ale and a Stout. Quite a small range for a Victorian brewer. Then again, they weren’t that large an operation. The maximum brew length was around 50 barrels. They couldn’t have been brewing more than around 10,000 barrels a year.

If you had asked me to guess the gravity of this beer, I’d have said 1050º at the absolute maximum, and more likely 1045º. Why? Because beers tended to be weaker outside London. In 1889, both Barclay Perkins and Whitbread X Ale were 1058º. Or about the same strength as Harvey X.

There’s nothing very complicated about the recipe. It’s just pale malt and invert sugar. Interestingly, it’s No. 2 rather than the No. 3 invert you might expect. Even so, No. 2 is enough to change the colour of the finished beer to what I would call semi-dark. About 20% of the base malt is described as “Smyrna”, that is from the Middle East.

Unusually for the late Victorian period, when huge quantities were being imported, all the hops are English. A combination of Kent from the 1888 harvest and East Kent from 1887 and 1888.

At the bottom of the fermentation chart it says “Run into Puns”. Puns, I assume, standing for puncheons. At 84 gallons, those are pretty large casks. Not usually the sort of size you’d be delivering to pubs.

1889 Harvey X
pale malt 10.00 lb 83.33%
No. 2 invert sugar 2.00 lb 16.67%
Fuggles 85 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings 60 mins 0.75 oz
Goldings 30 mins 0.75 oz
OG 1057.5
FG 1014
ABV 5.75
Apparent attenuation 75.65%
IBU 29
SRM 10
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 85 minutes
pitching temp 57.5º F
Yeast Wyeast 1332 Northwest ale


Martyn Cornell said...

I wonder if the "puns" were what the beer was "cleansed" in after the initial fermentation, to be run into "trade" casks later …

Good to see the classic combo of Fuggles and Goldings in operation so early. Fuggles had only been around for 18 years at that point, of course.

Ron Pattinson said...


it's quite possible that the "puns" were being used for cleansing.

The hop varieties are a guess. They're listed as Kent and East Kent. I usually interpret the former as Fuggles and the altter as Goldings.